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Guiding Trend 7 July Jul 2017 1651 7 July 2017

Co-working: Is Collaboration the Future of Work?

There are over 400 co-working spaces in Italy, a wave that is revolutionising the world of work. Here’s why:

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Talking with people who have skills that are completely different from yours, leaving your children in the co-baby area, and having lunch with new people every day. This is the life of co-workers: professionals -entrepreneurs, freelancers or employees - who work in shared offices. It’s hard to say how many people make up this army of “smart” workers, who don’t have to punch a timecard and often enjoy very flexible hours. According to the Global Co-working survey, they would number around 1,180,000 all over the world in13,800 spaces. London and Berlin are the capitals of the co-working movement in Europe, but Italy also boasts a hefty number: over 400 spaces and that figure seems destined to rise because people like this way of working, as we can see from the growth rate recorded: a constant +50% annually since 2010 to today. The average price of a desk runs between 200 and 300 Euro per month.

"Here you get to do business and build relationships," explained Marco Nannini, CEO of Impact Hub Milan, which opened in 2010. It was the first co-working space in the city, and one of the first in Italy. Last autumn, they opened a massive new space with 200 seats, distributed between an open space area, private offices and a lovely garden.

"If you are a freelancer or a startupper and you’re starting a company, the last thing you need is to waste time managing the cleaning and the Wi-Fi. At an affordable price, we provide you with an office, complete with a meeting room and a receptionist. Renting a desk here saves time, money and energy, and allows you to get to know many people."

For many, this is precisely the most valuable aspect of using a shared space: the network and Impact Hub, with its 102 spaces in 97 countries boasts thousands of members around the world. For the freelancers, startuppers and entrepreneurs who sit at the desks of this brand, attention for environmental and social sustainability and having a positive impact is very important.

"Even though they do different things, our co-workers have a common sensitivity. They can compare with other people and somehow combat the loneliness that can affect people do not work in a large company. Freelancers especially enjoy having the community also as basin of potential customers to draw from."

“If you are a freelancer or a startupper and you’re starting a company, the last thing you need is to waste time managing the cleaning and the Wi-Fi. At an affordable price, we provide you with an office, complete with a meeting room and a receptionist.”

This global network intercepts the increasing trend of "nomadic workers", who live between different cities, countries and sometimes even continents. "We have agreements between our different locations, so if one of our members happens to go to London to meet investors, they can set up a meeting in one of the city’s Impact Hub spaces at discounted rates. The size of many people’s businesses is becoming increasingly international, and knowing that one has an office to go to anywhere you might need it is an added advantage.”

Another brand responding to this need is Talent Garden (TAG), the first space opened in Brescia in 2011. In fact, the whole trend has triggered a sort of domino effect: now they have 18 co-working locations in six European countries and they have also opened a digital school (TAG Innovation School).

"Everything took shape from the idea of a group of friends in search of a workspace to share, and a place where we could form connections and learn from each other. This is why we decided to open a co-working space where people with the same passion for innovation and the digital world could work and spend time together every day," explained David Dattoli, co-founder and CEO of TAG. "People who come to us are looking for a place that offers not only the possibility to work, but also to meet other professionals like themselves with whom they can exchange ideas and experiences and work together on various projects." The fast growth of TAG, according to Dattoli, is also due to the possibility of putting co-workers in contact with large companies. "We offer many activities and events, thus contributing to the enrichment of our talents with big corporate and institutional players."

The crisis has forced more and more people to reinvent themselves, looking for the most economical solutions that allow them to optimize resources. Co-working is the perfect answer.

In Turin, TAG, together with the Agnelli Foundation, has just opened a new Campus, the name they have given to these spaces in the network because they seem more like actual university centres than offices. In fact, the largest co-working space on our continent is in Via Calabiana in Milan. An area of over 8,500 square meters where along with the desk, workers have access to a babysitter on call, they can try out 3D printing at the Fab Lab in the basement and even organize poolside meetings on the top floor terrace. More interestingly, though, shared offices are not only conquering urban areas, said Giorgio Baracco, from Expresso Co-working, the conference that collects Italian and European companies each year.

"Today, the concept of co-working has become mainstream. Any municipal administration knows what it is, and the model is spreading to the smaller towns and rural areas, even in the south." This is confirmed by the fact that the next event will be organised in Racale, a small town of 11,000 inhabitants in the heart of Salento. “The crisis has forced more and more people to reinvent themselves, looking for the most economical solutions that allow them to optimize resources. Co-working is the perfect answer for these situations, and to the need for flexibility, which had spread throughout the country and manifests in different ways." We can see this through the growth of the Impact Hub model, which is global, but more than that, it also has a very local dimension. They opened their first space in Milan, and then opened seven others around the nation.

"Our members are mainly people who have decided to return home after years of study or work in a large city. They have seen or tried this model and they choose it after they come home,” explained Paul Campagnano, founder of Impact Hub Trento. "In smaller towns, the quality of life is usually high, houses are larger and many professionals work at a home office. In these contexts, we must not only offer the space, but other perks as well. This is why our co-working aims to have a positive impact on the whole community. We organize events open to everyone, films, parties, and street food fairs. But remember, the whole project is based on this: building a community around a space. The future of work is collaborative, and relationships are the key."