Coworking is a hub where communities can work together and are built on similar values from all corners of the job force.
Flexible offices and coworking spaces are often paired with open space concepts and ping pong tables, but it goes further than that. According to Dina Sierralta, an expert on collaborative spaces, coworking spaces are used as a tool to collaborate in the so-called coworking manifesto.
The manifesto states, “We have the talent. We just need to work together. Different environments need to overlap, to connect and to interact in order to transform our culture. In order to create a sustainable community based on trust, we value: collaboration over competition; community over agendas; participation over observation; doing over saying; friendship over formality; boldness over assurance; learning over expertise; people over personalities; and “value ecosystem” over “value chain.”
Sierralta says the need for the coworking manifesto began in 2011, when coworking was on the uprise. It provides a solid, transformative framework where you can apply it to your specific needs.
“Sometimes when people get all tied up in discussions about the best frameworks and methods, looking back to the manifesto makes it clear what the goal is and takes away the heat from the discussion, because it provides orientation towards this goal,” said Sierralta.
The “participation over observation” aspect of the coworking manifesto gives people the power to participate over being a spectator in order to make existing things better. Sierralta says that people learn by doing things, thus understanding them better. When you observe, it is easier to become critical, but when you actually practice and participate, you can serve as support.
For “people over personalities,” Sierralta said that spaces should accept and welcome people who come to work for them. She uses the Cynefin Framework by Dave Snowden as an example, which picks a strategy to reach a solution, such as simple, complicated, complex, and chaotic. It helps to explain that each expertise is a field that addresses specific challenges in complicated domains.
“But when we are working on a complex challenge, this does not help. We need to find an emerging practice by using experiments to find out what can work in this area,” Sierralta said. “And often, it is tough for experts to let go of what they have learned and experienced since a long time.”
Considering “value ecosystem” over “value chain” means you should be aware of the ecosystem you are working in, and be willing to change. She uses her experience as a pharmacist as an example, stating that the cost of shipping drugs to a patient might look like one thing, but when you look at the ecosystem of local health services, it can look like something different entirely.
The Berlin coworking scene is diverse, with big communities and small operators in the same neighborhood. She explains that there is not a one-size-fits-all coworking space, and the coworking providers in the area provide various amenities to suit all workstyles.
When choosing a coworking space, Sierralta says to simply experience it first-hand and ignore online ratings. Ask yourself what you can give and take from that particular space. Identify your personal workstyle: if you enjoy working alone, opt for a space that provides private areas. Most operators try to encourage interaction with other professionals in the space, so be prepared for smaller spaces.