It’s been an industry buzzword for a couple of years now but collaborative working seems to have exploded in popularity in the last year; with new co-working centres being set up in Bath and London and in many other cities across the UK.
According to Deskmag.com, there are over 1,800 collaborative working centres across the globe in countries including Australia, the US and – of course – the UK.
However, for something that is becoming so popular amongst entrepreneurs, small business and sole traders, there are still lots of businesses out there who do not fully understand what collaborative working is and how they could benefit from it.
First of all, let’s explain what collaborative working is; according to BCA, collaborative working spaces “typically provide an informal working environment filled with hard-working business brains”, this makes the environment “perfect for bouncing ideas around, asking for help, sharing contacts and networking in a natural way”.
Natasha Turner, of Clarendon Business Centres says: “Peoples styles of working have changed dramatically over the last few years. Fewer companies wish to commit to long leases and fixed desk space and are now happier with the flexibility of ‘office space when just you need it’.
Collaborative working is growing increasingly popular in our business centres and I can only see it becoming more and more widespread in the UK”
So, in short, a collaborative working space is a workspace where people from different organisations work both separately on their own projects and together with others when/if they need help.
Now, the potential benefits gained from working in this way are plentiful. This article seeks to help clear things up for entrepreneurs and sole traders wishing to find out more.
Benefit one: Objective advice
While not denigrating the benefit of working with people who know you and your business best, collaborative working helps individuals from different businesses because it gives them a unique objectivity they might not achieve working from home.
Let’s use a real life example, a freelance writer who usually works from home has decided to co-work with professionals she has never met.
Rather than bounce ideas around in her head she decides to run a couple of narrative elements past a co-worker who is interested in fiction and happy to help. She gets a unique perspective on her work.
Another example would be the freelance SEO consultant who finds himself providing tips to a small business owner sat at the desk next door, and also finds himself receiving help on designing his site from the web designer on his other side.
The good thing about collaborating in this manner is that, since these people aren’t working on the same projects or even for the same businesses, they have perspectives from outside the situation and this is usually of great benefit to a freelancer who has looked at something so many times that their eyes hurt.
Benefit two: Inspiration
Working from home can be an incredibly rewarding experience and many people find that they work best when they have the freedom to work creatively on their own terms in their own space.
However, this environment doesn’t suit everyone and some people find they miss contact with colleagues and can miss the advice and interaction that comes from working in the supportive space with others.
Another thing that entrepreneurs miss more often than not is the inspiration that comes from working with other people who may or may not be further ahead with their plans.
Like sitting next to the clever kid at school and wanting to emulate them, collaborative working is excellent in the way that you can look at what others are doing and see yourself and your business plan through fresh eyes as a result.
Benefit Three: Finances
Working in a shared working space is excellent for conserving a low budget whilst allowing you to have the experience of working in a professional space with others. It’s the perfect financial compromise between working from home (imagine the heating bill in the winter!) and hiring out an office for just yourself.
Collaborative working is becoming more and more popular across the UK; especially in places like Bath and London. In central London the area of Bloomsbury is a well-known collaborative working space complete with a café that even non-members can use to work on their projects.
It seems be an initiative that isn’t going to go away.