An article authored by Signe Brewster in Gigaom features information about a Maker’s Space pilot program featuring 3-D printers and supporting technology in Chicago’s Harold Washington Library.
This effort simply enhances on the already-significant success of the 14-month-old 1871 tech incubator in the Merchandise Mart, the rise of several coworking spaces in Chicago, Motorola’s move to the City, the simultaneous expansion of Google into the West Randolph corridor and can feed greater interest in the Mayor’s vision of establishing a biotech incubator over the next year.
Let’s keep this momentum Chicago!
Read on for the August Revved Results newsletter written by Wendy Spreenberg, President of SITE REsolutions. (Thanks Lisa O. and Lisa E.!)
Now that we can say the mobile worker is a mainstream reality, what is appearing on the Workspace-as-a-Service landscape?
There are some unusual and new solutions as we evolve from an office-building-centric workplace to the “work wherever” opportunity. This article showcases just five examples of the recent wave of options.
Building Share/Colocation – firms agree to share a floor or a building as co-tenants as a means of creating synergies or more vibrant communities for their companies or for specific corporate divisions (i.e., creative, engineers, marketing, technologists). Examples of this type of space include Grid70 in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and Battery 621 in Denver, Colorado, http://battery621.com/. Part of the objective is to keep talented team members and spur innovation via the potential interactions by the members of the building community. It is also a means of controlling overhead on a large space when a firm wants to take on a small portion of that large space.
Maker’s Spaces – these are set up to allow users to actually make prototypes of products. They are also called hackerspaces based on getting groups of people together who want to dismantle and reconfigure everything from tangible objects to software programs. They are equipped in specific ways depending upon the community they wish to create: 3D printers, woodworking equipment, machining, LED’s, welding equipment, recording equipment, kitchens, sewing machines and looms for example. Prime examples of what makers’ spaces can be are Milwaukee Makerspace http://milwaukeemakerspace.org/ and Pumping Station One in Chicago. Many are non-profits linked to higher education and seek public grants and private donations. Others operate with user memberships, similar to what we know about Coworking spaces. In fact, the Maker’s community is a very dedicated set of practitioners with a directory and, in some cases, maker events, such as the Inaugural Evanston (IL) Mini Maker Faire that was held August 4/5, 2012, http://www.makerfaireevanston.com/.
Corporate Innovation Centers – major corporations are developing their own Coworking environments as a means of driving innovation in an open culture designed to foster creativity and 1+1=3 collaboration. These spaces are by invitation or via an interview or vetting process to ensure the fit and focus are optimized for both the corporation and the user. AT&T has developed two spaces in the US (Plano, TX and Palo Alto, CA) and one in Israel under “AT&T Foundry”. The mission, taken directly from the website is “The AT&T Foundry facilitates innovation development through a diverse, collaborative community supported by a network of strategic technology companies. This open environment enables a range of innovation that includes Applications, Devices, Cloud Services, Enabling Technologies, and Operational Support.” So clearly the focus is very technology driven toward application development specifically for use within AT&T and perhaps takes off globally.
We acknowledge that both internet cafes and hotels with wi-fi lobbies satisfy a significant percentage of mobile workers. However, the perception is truly that work is conducted on a very short-term basis, an hour or two, such as in between appointments or as a way of breaking up the workday.
Non-Branded Corporate Coworking Space – Some companies are going so far as to “non-brand” themselves as a way to gain access directly to potential individual consumers rather than attracting business-to-business clientele. For example, State Farm Insurance has opened a pilot location in Chicago, named “Next Door” with very little State Farm associated branding:
https://www.nextdoorchi.com/ . It is set up as “a creative community space and café where anyone can ask questions about finances and insurance stuff and find answers. No pressure. No sales pitch. No kidding!” There are classes, coaching, coffee and access to wi-fi. The cost to use the space? You pay for the coffee and snacks. The objective is to gain access to younger consumers who may not know about the range of financial services products, in addition to insurance, offered by the company. A low key and friendly approach to the ad-averse Millennial generation.
Government Telework spaces – teleworking was originally approved, on a limited basis, by the Federal Government in 2000. In December of 2010, it was expanded to allow government employees to telework for a portion of their workweek. This included the opportunity to work outside of a government office building and outside of the home environment, in a pre-approved setting for a specific period of time (usually less than 6 months). Government employees must “first successfully complete an interactive telework training program” before being able to work off site from a government facility. Employees must ensure that whichever alternative workspace chosen has a secure Internet connection and that they are not working in an open environment. The GSA has worked with various business centers, allowing them to provide, under contract, IDIQ (indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity) services to various government agencies requiring flexible workspace solutions that may be conducted in an offsite location. The government may even consider transforming some of their own space to a flex-work environment based on budget constraints and the amount of unproductive real estate held by the Federal Government.
To be sure, there are other workspace ideas percolating as we examine how to create more efficient use of commercial office space. We will witness several new iterations of workspace unfold over the next 5 years as we all look to create something of a custom fit for a not-yet-defined type of worker of the 21st Century.
To help you understand more about new workspace configurations and how you may incorporate some of these ideas into your new or existing location, contact Wendy Spreenberg at 312-372-6050 or via email at