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Flevy Management Insights Q&A
What strategies can be employed to foster collaboration between employees from different companies within a co-working space?


This article provides a detailed response to: What strategies can be employed to foster collaboration between employees from different companies within a co-working space? For a comprehensive understanding of Co-working, we also include relevant case studies for further reading and links to Co-working best practice resources.

TLDR Strategies to promote collaboration in co-working spaces include creating a collaborative physical environment, organizing networking and social events, and implementing collaboration-focused programs, drawing on successful examples like WeWork and Google Campus.

Reading time: 4 minutes


Fostering collaboration between employees from different organizations within a co-working space presents a unique set of challenges and opportunities. The goal is to create an environment that not only encourages interaction but also facilitates productive collaboration. This requires strategic planning and implementation of specific initiatives designed to break down barriers and build connections. Here, we explore several strategies that can be employed to achieve this objective, drawing on insights from leading consulting and market research firms.

Creating a Collaborative Physical Environment

The design of the co-working space plays a crucial role in promoting collaboration. According to Gartner, the physical workspace can significantly influence employee engagement and productivity. Organizations should focus on creating open, flexible spaces that encourage spontaneous interactions. This includes shared workstations, communal lounges, and multipurpose areas that can be used for both work and relaxation. The layout should facilitate visibility and movement, making it easier for individuals from different organizations to mingle and engage in casual conversations. Additionally, incorporating elements such as whiteboards and communal tables can encourage teamwork and brainstorming sessions among members from different organizations.

Another aspect to consider is the use of technology within the space. Providing access to high-speed internet, shared printers, and digital collaboration tools can remove barriers to working together. For example, digital screens displaying project updates or upcoming events can keep everyone in the loop and foster a sense of community. Technology can also facilitate virtual collaboration, allowing members to connect and work together even when they are not physically present in the co-working space.

Real-world examples of such environments include spaces like WeWork and Impact Hub, which have successfully implemented these design principles. These co-working spaces are known for their vibrant, open layouts that encourage interaction and collaboration among their diverse member base.

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Organizing Networking and Social Events

Events are a powerful tool for building connections between individuals from different organizations. Hosting regular networking events, workshops, and social gatherings can help break the ice and foster relationships. According to a report by Deloitte, events that focus on professional development, such as skill-sharing workshops or industry talks, can be particularly effective in bringing people together. These events provide a platform for members to share their expertise, learn from others, and identify potential collaboration opportunities.

Social events, on the other hand, such as happy hours, cultural celebrations, and sports activities, can help build a sense of community and camaraderie. These less formal gatherings allow members to connect on a personal level, which is often the foundation of successful professional collaborations. It's important that these events cater to the interests and preferences of the co-working space's members to ensure high participation rates.

Examples of organizations that have successfully implemented this strategy include Google Campus and Factory Berlin, where a strong emphasis is placed on community events. These spaces regularly host a wide range of activities, from tech meetups to yoga classes, fostering a strong sense of community and collaboration among members.

Implementing Collaboration-Focused Programs

Beyond the physical space and social events, implementing structured programs can further enhance collaboration. Mentorship programs, where experienced professionals offer guidance to newcomers or individuals from other fields, can facilitate knowledge sharing and foster professional relationships. Similarly, innovation challenges or hackathons can encourage members from different organizations to team up and work on projects together, promoting teamwork and creative problem-solving.

Another effective approach is the creation of interest groups or clubs based on common professional interests or hobbies. These groups can meet regularly to discuss industry trends, share best practices, or work on collaborative projects. This not only helps in building professional networks but also in creating a supportive community where members can seek advice and feedback.

Co-working spaces like TechSpace and Galvanize have implemented such programs with great success. They offer a range of initiatives, from business mentorship to coding bootcamps, encouraging members to collaborate and learn from each other. These programs have not only enhanced the sense of community within the space but have also led to the development of innovative projects and startups.

In conclusion, fostering collaboration between employees from different organizations within a co-working space requires a multifaceted approach. By creating a collaborative physical environment, organizing networking and social events, and implementing collaboration-focused programs, co-working spaces can become vibrant communities of innovation and partnership. Drawing on the insights and examples from leading consulting and market research firms, as well as successful real-world implementations, it's clear that these strategies can significantly enhance collaboration and contribute to the overall success of the individuals and organizations involved.

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Best Practices in Co-working

Here are best practices relevant to Co-working from the Flevy Marketplace. View all our Co-working materials here.

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Explore all of our best practices in: Co-working

Co-working Case Studies

For a practical understanding of Co-working, take a look at these case studies.

Co-working Strategy Development for Infrastructure Sector

Scenario: A firm specializing in infrastructure development is grappling with the challenge of optimizing its co-working spaces.

Read Full Case Study

Educational Platform's Coworking Space Expansion Strategy

Scenario: A leading educational technology firm is seeking to extend its market reach and enhance collaborative opportunities by establishing a network of coworking spaces targeted at professionals and students.

Read Full Case Study

Coworking Space Optimization for Professional Services in Education

Scenario: A professional services firm specializing in educational consulting has recently expanded their Coworking space to accommodate a growing team.

Read Full Case Study

Cooperative Workspace Strategy for Education Sector in North America

Scenario: The organization is a network of coworking spaces catering to professionals in the education industry, specifically targeting educators, tutors, and edtech startups.

Read Full Case Study

Co-working Efficiency Enhancement in Life Sciences

Scenario: The organization is a mid-sized life sciences company specializing in R&D co-working spaces.

Read Full Case Study

Explore all Flevy Management Case Studies

Related Questions

Here are our additional questions you may be interested in.

What metrics and KPIs are most effective for measuring the ROI of co-working space investments for large corporations?
Effective ROI measurement of co-working space investments for corporations involves Financial Performance, Employee Productivity and Satisfaction, and Strategic and Operational Excellence metrics, emphasizing cost savings, engagement, innovation rates, and operational efficiency. [Read full explanation]
How is the rise of digital nomadism influencing the evolution of coworking spaces?
The rise of digital nomadism is driving Coworking Spaces to innovate by offering flexibility, advanced technology, community engagement, and Strategic Planning to cater to the evolving needs of a mobile workforce. [Read full explanation]
In what ways can organizations ensure data security and protect intellectual property when utilizing coworking spaces?
Organizations can ensure data security and protect intellectual property in coworking spaces by implementing comprehensive Digital Security Measures, establishing Physical Security Measures, and fostering a Culture of Security Awareness among employees. [Read full explanation]
How can companies measure the ROI of implementing coworking spaces versus traditional office spaces?
Assessing the ROI of Coworking versus Traditional Office Spaces requires evaluating Financial Metrics, Productivity, Employee Satisfaction, and Operational Flexibility to make informed business decisions. [Read full explanation]
How are digital nomadism and remote work trends influencing the evolution of co-working spaces?
Digital Nomadism and Remote Work Trends are transforming Co-Working Spaces through enhanced Spatial Design, Technological Infrastructure, Community Building, and Flexible Membership Plans to meet diverse workforce needs. [Read full explanation]
What are the long-term implications of coworking on corporate real estate portfolios and space utilization?
The rise of coworking spaces is transforming Corporate Real Estate Strategy, Lease Structures, and Space Design, emphasizing flexibility, collaboration, innovation, and sustainability, while impacting Operational Excellence and Culture. [Read full explanation]

Source: Executive Q&A: Co-working Questions, Flevy Management Insights, 2024


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