Can Coworking Catalyse Innovation?

16 June 2011

The coworking industry is growing at a healthy speed in NYC, with what seems like a new space every month. This is great news as with each new space people become more aware of the value of coworking. It is our belief that the greatest value a coworking space can offer is innovation.

To explain this, we first have to start by defining innovation. For us, innovation means the successful implementation of a new solution, idea, or answer. This new idea, solution, or answer has to deliver change; we should literally be able to see a clear transition from point A to point B. From our observation and studies, the way people come up with something new is by being immersed in diverse neighbourhoods of knowledge, disrupting neurological thought patterns, and raising dopamine levels.

To bring it back to coworking, how do these spaces help deliver the aforementioned benefits? Our coworking spaces bring people from different backgrounds together: despite having the same values and aims, they all come from different industries. This helps instigate the extrapolation process. For example, we have a member who has a web design agency and a background in psychology. Based on our conversations, we asked her to give a talk on Intuition and Business. From there she changed her perception of herself and her capabilities, leading her to innovate her business into a psychology-based design agency. This has brought her opportunities she had not foreseen, including speaking engagements, consulting for corporates, and writing a book.

Next is disrupting neurological thought patterns: when you work from home and each day looks the same, your brain stops ?ring new neurological connections. It essentially turns on the autopilot. We have all experienced the sensation of where did the day go or what did I actually do today? This is not just the case for people that work from home, but also holds for people who work in office spaces.

It is essential for the brain to constantly be exposed to new environments and stimuli. This is why coworking spaces are great. You can choose to be a member of different spaces to create breaks in your routine. Those breaks in the routine will help your brain create different perspectives and thus lead to the creation of new ideas.

Finally, releasing dopamine helps to generate ideas and to think conceptually. Being in social environments helps release neurochemicals, as we like being around people. As we mentioned early on, coworking spaces are not just for entrepreneurs, but also for conventionally employed people. They can be a great way to keep up with consumer and economic trends, build a strong business community, and escape the humdrum of a daily office routine.