Co-working Spaces

Media consultant Antonio Gould is intrigued about Co-working spaces and how they might benefit Birmingham.

The idea is to create a flexible working space which can be hired out whenever necessary but more importantly to create a social space and sense of community around the space. As the post put it (sort of) “Part cubicle, part coffee shop”.

I think this is exactly the kind of space we need in Birmingham City Centre and / or in Eastside. I’d use it. It fits exactly into a lot of what I think Glenn Howells was trying to say about the importance of dialogue to the development of the creative industries at the Eastside Dialogues last year.

This “sense of community” is what makes the concept interesting. As the creative quarter in Eastside develops it will probably be made up in part by autonomous people who are not directly tied to offices or businesses. While there have always been “virtual office” services for this type of worker it’s hard to develop an environment where ideas can be shared in a working environment (as opposed to, say, the pub).

There’s a good article about this in Business Week which, though it has an American bias, doesn’t seem unreasonable for this country. Make sure you check the slideshow which shows the range of environments the concept covers, from cybercafe-style booths to open plan lounges. Interestingly none of it seems radically original – a number of them look like university libraries. The main difference seems to be you rent the space which presumably ensures a serious working environment while retaining the random nature of a cafe.

While at the very early stages there are already moves to establish a co-working space in Birmingham. You can register your interest here and debate the issue on Antonio’s blog.