I came to work at Hatch in May freshly equipped with the knowledge that my junior year of college had brought me. I had known for awhile that my parents and older sister had been working on opening a coworking space in downtown Wake Forest, but I had been at school and was unaware of the work that had been going on. My initial thoughts on what a coworking space was came from the name itself. It must be where people work together. However, my first understanding of coworking came when I walked into the front doors of Hatch when I had come to help my family move the furniture in. This “understanding” that I had did not come from surfing the web, but rather the vibe I got when I walked inside. Coworking is a feeling, it has a certain je ne sais quoi.
However, as I did continue to research it since a vibe cannot be described to potential clients, I found the constant keyword that seemed to surface was “innovation.”
This made sense to me. You are around other people, who each do various things, and each has their own strengths and weaknesses. You might share a couple tactics whether related to marketing, business strategy, or logistics while working in close quarters with one another. Although, I will admit that I kept doubting that people would actually take advantage of this. I imagined a scene of a few people working next to each other making small talk every once in awhile to be friendly and occasionally converse about what they are working on. Was innovation really going to occur more so than working at home or in a normal office space?
I continued to delve into articles, Google Groups, and books, and I found the answer to the question I posed was yes.
Here is why coworking leads to innovation….
History tells us it does.
Most all things have a history. History is proof as to what has worked, what hasn’t, and what has come of it. There is a history of coworking spaces just as one studies the history of America.
During the 15th century, there were these things called the Renaissance “Bottega” and “Bottega” translates to workshops. These workshops were generally lead by a master artist or sculptor and this master would take in budding artists or thinkers. Unlike a company though, where everyone in the same company is also working in the same industry, there would be an artist like Andrea del Verrocchio who would take in pupils that were interested in engineering and architecture. The mind of an artist is the antithesis of the mind of an engineer. They each see things differently. So imagine being in a Bottega in 15th century Italy working in close proximity to an engineer, an artist, an architect, and a goldsmith. A problem that is impossible to solve to your mind is a five-second thought train to “solution” for the person sitting next to you.
Instead of sitting at home, trying to do work by yourself with the only platform for innovation being one mind, therefore offering one-sided solutions, how about a multi-faceted platform with each facet holding the solution of a thinker completely different from yourself. A thinker whose mind might align with someone of your customer segment, a thinker who might possess a skill you need, a thinker who might just want to share an experience that could lead to a spark. Multi-faceted almost always trumps one-sided.
Another perk of the Renaissance was the rising popularity of coffee houses and how it leads to the great thinking and innovation during the Renaissance period. Coffee houses allowed a place for people to come together and discuss new ideas. They could almost be referred to as the coworking spaces of the 15th century. However, coffee shops have grown and while they are great places to hang out with friends and feed the addiction of many coffee lovers, it is not the same environment that is conducive to innovation like it was during the Renaissance.
Now, instead of meeting in the chatter and chaos of coffee shops. Coworking spaces are the results of the innovation that once took place in coffee shops and “Bottega's.” They are the next step in history. The new platform for innovation. They turn ideas into action, they foster dialogues, and they create a holistic approach to creativity. Look up coworking spaces and watch the following phrases pop up: “building community,” “fostering creative serendipity,” “quirky and unique,” and “supportive network.” It is here where passions, projects, and dreams are able to intertwine.
So, pick up your coffee from the Wake Forest Coffee Company because let’s face it, coffee shops are still essential for all the caffeine addicted just as co-working spaces are essential for all the change makers addicted to innovation; and then, walk on over to Hatch. You now have the history. All that is left is the je ne sais quoi.