Coworking Space

Will We Cowork in the Future?

Nowadays our working habit has changed from what our grandparents used to – not all of us have to go to the office to work. The term “working” is not anymore associated with office. It’s rather associated with high mobility and flexibility. It’s not anymore done on the desk. Some even do it on the bed, putting their headphones on while conveniently visit the kitchen when they just feel bored or hungry. Working is about passion, not necessarily about prestige and payday.

Some people will say this is post industrialist era. Human are moving into the information era, where exchange are made in the form of bits. We are not buying things, we are buying satisfaction. You maybe ever heard the phrase “home is where the internet be”. This is true as nobody feels comfort when they lost contact of the world from the internet. We’ve been networked through the fiber and our lives depend on it.

Let’s think back what some of the baby boomer era said about our generation. Do we really getting anti-social? If you look up in the tube, train, or bus it might be true. People ignore the presence of the people beside him/her , busy replying message, while the true love of their lives might be just beside him/her. Mobile phone make us addicted to information – we want to know what is happening in the Europe creative industry, travel in Turkey, gambling in Marina Bay, or latest entertainment from Korea. But trust me, those information sometimes doesn’t make any sense if you just end up knowing; a mere knowing.

Fortunately we got the youth mind who understand how to make the best of communication and information through the internet. Architectural Record on February 2014 issue on “Renovation, Addition, Adaptation” stated that ,”the tech start-ups are not only making their mark in the economic terms, they’re redefining the workspace.” Most of the working space in the IT industry offers a great flexibility and sense of openness; thus change our perception in working culture as something which isolate us to avoid distractions.

Comma Id is one of the commercial coworking space dedicated for public in Jakarta, Indonesia

Comma Id is one of the commercial coworking space dedicated for public in Jakarta, Indonesia

Coworking Culture

Ask your friends where did he/she work. Some of them might be reply,”sometimes I work in the cafe A. It depends my mood and the internet speed.” Yeah, the majorities who has this answer are them who work with the laptop – writers, programmers, graphic designers, and etc. Due to their flexibility of space, they go freelance, enjoy a flexible working schedule, and looking for different environment to boost up their mood.

I read a Master report from Katy Jackson (suninthecorner.com) about Making Space for Others. She wrote about the home workers who always look for the coffee shop + (yes, she wrote the plus sign) which offer “best wifi, small tables, and sockets-a-plenty.” What’s interesting is that she described the coffee shop as a transition from working alone at home to getting social in coworking space. Now that you heard it, do you wonder about coworking space?

While it could be categorized as a new trends, coworking itself is not a new word. My friend Fauzan Alfi (www.makemac.com) found that coworking word used since 1628 (the earliest he could find). But at that time coworking is not about gathering together to work from different hardware shop (if you talk about medieval trends). Coworking is about how human should interact with Jesus Christ. Ok well I seemed get out of the topic.

Coworking becomes a trend as people urged by the needs to build their own enterprise while they need social interaction. Although the internet ease them in working, looking for clients, spread their working portfolio, and marketing their product, a physical interaction is seen as a must. Human in its nature need a physical presence to ensure they are not really alone and they have someone to talk to. Well, is it only about talking? I could skype. But it’s still different. Let me show you a statistic.

Statistics shown by Desgmag inform us how casual small talk build up a coworking environment

Statistics shown by Deskmag inform us how casual small talk build up a coworking environment

People really soon found their needs to find the best of both worlds – a social interaction found in the traditional office and the flexibility of working alone. Voila! A coworking space is born. What they do love the most is casual small talk, followed by knowledge and contact sharing. It’s like you put the catalyst to your project. You could get people to talk to and brainstorm ideas together, and may be collaborate in a bigger project! Doesn’t it sounds amazing?

Collaboration Value

Adi Panuntun from Sembilan Matahari (www.sembilanmatahari.com) state that great work comes from collaboration. Although he’s not a coworker, but his video mapping company taught us the value of collaboration. Through collaboration he made himself and his brother (his working partner) to be acknowledged internationally through exhibition and public installation. Doing collaboration “open his way to learn something new and future working partners”.

As a student major in architecture, I could say that architectural strategies play a great role in making the collaboration atmosphere. You could see a huge difference when you look at the office built during the industrial boom and in our contemporary era. People at the industrial era see office as a closed space to let your focus on your work. Space are made as cubicle to let you – again – keep focus on the paper. Interaction, eventually chattering around, is considered as non-productive activity that doesn’t flow money. A tight schedule was made to ensure you work around the clock and you get paid for the hours you spent.

But then during the beginning of 20th century people start to realize about the need of being open. Carl Benscheidt commissioned Walter Gropius to design (redesign to be exact) his new factory for the shoe last company Fagus. Monocle on December 2013/January 2014 issue told its reader that this factory is “still as people-friendly as it was 100 years ago.” This sense also being realized through Johnson Wax Building design by Frank Lloyd Wright. Besides being famous for its mushroom-like structure, this office also offered open plan design. Both of this office design realize an important aspect of light that make it sound.

Architectural strategies on collaboration and sense of openness

Architectural strategies on collaboration and sense of openness (I did this diagram, but I download the vector of working man from side by Juan Pablo Bravo from thenounproject.com)

But not until 1974 collaboration takes place to be considered as design. Central Beheer in Apeldoorn by Herman Hertzberger brought the value of being in small group as the idea of arranging the working space. When open plan is criticized because people lose the sense of place (imagine you are in the middle of vastness and wide space), his design grouped the workspace into a space of 6-10 people. It allows people to mark their own space (maybe decorate it) but still interact with the others.

Small groups become the idea for Herman Hertzberger to arrange the space

Small groups become the idea for Herman Hertzberger to arrange the space (source:www.dezeen.com/2011/12/06/key-projects-by-herman-hertzberger)

So will We?

So think back about our present days. Coworking has been said to be getting more popular as the cafe hoppers and home workers find their society and community. If we are talking about community making, it’s right that technology contribute most of it. As the energetic youth prefer a fresh and brand new idea, coworking helps them to get the creative side out. A vibrant environment with passionate souls fill the entire room to boost up their days.

“Will we cowork in the future?” is a contextual statement, rather than rhetorical question. We are talking about what will the graduates do after they struggle their way out of the college and universities. Being in an office might still offer a good alternative, but we need more deliberate options to suit their kind of mobile lifestyle.

As the end of the texts, I would like to give my opinion on the future of technologies. As we are building our future, it’s only a matter of time we would realize that technology only a complementary. The euphoria may be hasn’t finished yet, it’s okay. We just love something’s new. We just need to adapt on the changes and prepare the best of the transformation. As problems arrive, it’s because human will always be forced to think and solve new problems – just like your teachers did in your school. [GIE_2014]

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