We are accustomed to working at desks in an office, yet nowadays more and more people are mobile workers, working from home or in another space outside the office environment. Therefore, these days a working space can assume various forms of design, different from the home or communal centres. The …
We are accustomed to working at desks in an office, yet nowadays more and more people are mobile workers, working from home or in another space outside the office environment. Therefore, these days a working space can assume various forms of design, different from the home or communal centres. The stark contrast is that the work place denotes a formal and structured environment, far removed from relaxed and playful.
Here we attempt to break the existing definition about the work space and redefine it as a comfortable and playful environment, which can provide opportunities to interact with each other. They are usually referred to as a ‘co-working space’ with an emphasis upon the association of forming relationships through a shared ‘work-hub’. People who come to work together to form a network, not under a structure or corporation, but to share an external space beyond the home or insular office environment, form this collective.
There is a communication pattern in a network, regardless of the scale. As the size of the audience increases, the potential of connecting everyone becomes impossible. However, in smaller groups it is possible that the potential to form stronger bonds can be realised. These small networks are often referred to as communities of practice. The term ‘communities of practice’ refers to a group of people who share a passion or a concern for something and learn and act together by regular interaction. (Wenger, 2006)
Communities of practice are age-old forms which refers to any given place in which people congregate to share ideas and learn together. Humans, throughout history, have always relied on this idea of ‘communities of practice’ for survival or prosperity. Prior to the association of required coordinated work such as the invention of agriculture, hunting and division of labor, these communities were formed in practice but not necessarily theorised. However, communities of practice have been hightlighted to become more intentional and systematic about managing knowledge in the contemporary day, because they are self-organising innovative groups, which learn by themselves in open spaces.
There have been references to open spaces for co-working communities of practice before these areas were designated as such. Athens had Agora as an open space to work together around commercial, political and social issues in early Greek history, around 10th century BC. Records also indicate that there were public libraries, communal baths, public squares, and cultural centres to allow people to come together in sharing ideas and discussing business throughout the Roman era. The function of these spaces might have been defined by an external name, yet the human interaction that occurred was very much ad-hoc.
In our current time, open spaces are being resurrected to form ‘co-working communities of practice’. The boundaries of the roles of spaces are being redefined and other hybrid co-working places are being built. The renewed co-working spaces provide the opportunity for open learning to inspire people, to collaborate with each other and personal self-development as never before. We might have built too many structures and formats in the name of progress in recent history, but the chance to overturn this practice can be seen in redefining the work space we occupy. It is not the physical environment, but rather the opportunity to utilise an area in which shared ideas and community values are recognised above all.
Edited by: Emma Berg