Ready for a new kind of coworking? Matching ‘startup nomads’ and the corporate world

April 15th, 2013

My colleagues are spread over different continents and we use cloud-based communications and collaboration tools to work virtually together. I am free to do my job wherever I want and working from home is often the most practical place. However, @ Galixo we love to be in the startup environment, “where the action is taking place”, especially alongside those embedded in the tech, mobile and digital ecosystems. We have our seats in coworking offices in many cities around the world. You might have bumped into us @ Central Working Google Campus in London or The Hub in Singapore among others… On my side, I had a great experience @ The Hub Zürich, but living in the French part of Switzerland, I am looking forward to test soon the two local coworking spaces Eclau & La Muse in Lausanne.

In parallel, I started working at friends’ companies, i.e. 3 hours session with my CEO in the conference room at the common office of Scandola & Breew. Bonus: discussion during breaks and good reciprocal business review when drinking the local wine bottle I brought. Informal, efficient, and refreshing! For me, this confirms what I would love to do one or two days a week: visiting business friends, working from there, stimulating information exchange and new points of view.

This is what I told Michel Bachmann from The Hub Zürich. He is aware that the real value is not the office property space but rather the community advantages (not being alone, information exchange, workshops, talks, events, helping & supporting each other, etc). I suggested to him that as a “business community service provider”, I would be pleased if he could provide me with an additional service for my region: letting me know which companies in the innovation and digital space are willing to provide startupers with free office space. Because what we need is a smart online platform where “office seats providers” and “startup nomads” can interact, easily manage the logistic part and talk to each other during lunch or around coffee machine. Good guidelines (and terms & conditions) could solve administrative points, i.e. confidentiality agreement.

Now considering all the initiatives big corporations are putting together to stimulate innovation among their employees, i.e. “let’s go to the start-ups” (ecosystem), I’d like to suggest an alternative way to look at it, which could be: “let’s have start-ups guys come to us!”. I am convinced that a lot of companies have free space that could be used by external workers in order to create a new kind of networking and exchange that could be beneficial to companies/corporations and startups alike.

Let’s look at the front end sketch illustrating a calendar where companies publish their seats availabilities and co-workers see who plan to go there and can book easily:

If I follow the “Lean Startup Machine” principles, I would have to TEST this ‘coworking online platform’ first! And to start as soon as possible, I will simulate this platform with a calendar where I publish my co-working desires (the sketch above was the contrary: seats available by companies). And to experiment it, I already defined 2 months within my plancast, like as follow (calendar monthly view):

When a company saves a seat for me on a particular date, I will update the plancast meeting this way (ex: 9th april, list view):

Such an online platform would help match companies and co-workers, connecting them in order to plan their co-working together: companies can display their availabilities, invite specific co-workers to spend the day in their office; on the other side, co-workers can book a space or confirm (if already invited) their presence in the company of their choice and see which co-workers who will be there at the same time. With this framework, both companies and co-workers are interactive agents in the process.

Do you think it is interesting and sustainable? Are you ready for this experience?