coworking

It's time to reinvent the job!

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A new organisation of work is gaining momentum: coworking. The collective is moving towards collaboration, living together is organised around spaces of value that form a community, innovation in use takes precedence over technological advances: development of a digital, collaborative, mobile culture, etc. A fertile place for business creation, innovation and employment, a place where social ties are woven, a place where the relationship to work is changing, coworking spaces tell us a lot about the aspirations and values of the new generations. Which office tomorrow? Initiatives are multiplying to answer this question. This June 7, an innovative experiment, is unveiled by Neo-nomade and the Michel Serres Centre. Objective: to launch a dynamic to accompany the multiple metamorphoses of work.
 
Acoworking spaces are work spaces based on two key principles: mutualisation and collaboration. Whatever their profession, individual entrepreneurs, very small businesses or startups can come together to pool costs. Newcomers as well as employees take a regular rhythm and a relatively fixed place (outside the company) to exercise their profession. Instead, they come looking for a place where they can socialize to break their isolation. Coworking spaces are perfect examples of third places. They are managed in such a way as to encourage meetings, exchanges and collaboration, and in this way projects emerge and ideas are enriched.
There are more than 7,800 of them in the world (Deskmag survey) and, according to the Xerfi study, this new working solution already concerns more than 200 active spaces, at the beginning of 2016, in France, after only two years of existence for half of them. Initially concerned, nomadic and hyper-connected workers, employees of generations Y and soon Z are in favour of these new work solutions, even though 77 % of French employees visit their companies every day, compared with 65 % of British employees and only 54 % of Swedish employees. (1).
Deskmag has also made an interesting prospective estimate of the projected number of coworking spaces in the world: there would be more than 18,000 in 2018 in which more than a million coworkers would then be working. 74 % of employees and 51 % of managers believe that coworking will become unavoidable in the future (Sondage Mobilitis / Opinion Way).
 
Julie Fabbri is an assistant professor at EMLyon Business School and an associate researcher at the Management Research Centre of the Ecole Polytechnique de Paris-Saclay (i3-CRG). She studies the synergies between space and organisation in innovation contexts. Her PhD (2015) focused on inter-organizational collaborative dynamics in coworking spaces for innovative entrepreneurs.
In a recent interview with Millennium3She stated that the third generation of coworkers that is emerging today is making a major shift. For them, joining a collaborative space means above all joining a "community".
At the end of 2010, coworking was still very young in France. The boom took place from 2012 onwards with strong media relays and a wide variety of people mobilised around the issues of teleworking, the "intelligent" office, the refurbishment of new head offices, etc. The boom in this sector is still going strong.
The 2013-2016 generation of "early adopters" is attracted to the media discourse on socialization and the networking effects of these places. However, coworking spaces do not yet know how to properly value and promote this socialisation and networking function, and the offer is still very much focused on technical and functional arguments (office space, equipment, subscription or reservation based on time spent according to business property prices per square metre).
Today's generation is making a major shift. For these coworkers, joining a collaborative space means above all joining a "community".
Communities that would contribute to the emergence and support of innovative projects in general, whether carried out by individuals, companies, associations or public institutions. Well-functioning communities are based on the logic of give-and-take, win-win relationships. The norm in this type of community is to move away from supplier/customer relationships and business relationships based on domination. An interesting dimension, developed by Professor François-Xavier de Vaujany (Paris-Dauphine University), is the emotional dimension of community. It is based on relationships of trust, mutual help and shared values, but also on sensitive experiences through the design of the place, its atmosphere and its organisation. All this contributes to the creation of stronger interpersonal bonds, the development of relational skills that are essential for a project leader and the co-construction of his project with a certain number of stakeholders.
In addition, the use of these spaces offers entrepreneurs a stronger rebound capacity. Indeed, they are in a position to regularly present the progress of their projects and test them out with the community. This contributes in some way to the precipitation of failure or to make them turn more quickly, and therefore at a lower cost. This allows them to refocus more quickly on projects with higher potential. We also note that an entrepreneur who fails or decides to stop his project at a given moment is able to reposition himself very easily, by joining entrepreneurial projects carried out by other members of the community for example, which does not exclude that he will later return to a project of his own.
 

Changes in work: what trends?

Abandoning the pyramidal hierarchy, a quest for meaning and authenticity: the consultant Hugues de Vaulx, founding partner of Coop Alternative, a consulting firm specializing in social responsibility, deciphers three new trends at the heart of work organizations, on the occasion of the 1st Coworking Sitting of February 2017.
The first trend is the abandonment of the hierarchical pyramid. In a complex, constantly changing environment, an organization functions better without centralizing power.
In coworking spaces, there are no king neurons, no CEOs, no small chiefs, and no competition. According to some surveys, that's what makes the atmosphere better. One coworker even said: "here there are no slaves like there are too many in the corporate world". The strong value associated with it is freedom. What does "freedom" mean at work? Is it enough to no longer have a line manager, to work in one's own corner, without taking into account the constraints of one's partners, to be truly "free"?
 
The second trend is driving by purpose. Making a profit is only a means, not the end of a company. An organization's raison d'être is the direction it is heading in. The ultimate long-term goal, which goes beyond vested interests, federates actions and facilitates decision-making. The mission of Le Bon Coin, France's leading real estate and job site, is simple: "to facilitate day-to-day exchanges", which can be applied to all professions, from accounting to customer service. It is neither a real estate site nor a job site. It's an aggregation of all that. Since their creation, real coworking spaces have been driven by their raison d'être. La Cordée, for example, states on its website: "to create a benevolent, productive and convivial work ecosystem for all project leaders and self-employed workers, creative and colourful. »
 
The third trend is to help people be totally themselves at work. A lack of hierarchy, meaningful work, is not enough. Innovative organisations and coworking spaces create devices to encourage people to dare to show themselves as they are, in an amazing and quite touching mutual trust . 
Hugues de Vaulx based his analysis on the book, "Reinventing organizations : Vers des communautés de travail inspirées", by Frédéric Laloux.
 
Le 144, coworking space in Nantes (44)

Does the company still need a workplace?

Boosting economic innovation or living-together, reducing transport times, and thus the energy impact: coworking has a direct impact on the construction and organisation of cities and land use planning.
The journal of exploration and analysis on architecture Stream 02 published in 2012 (already!) a fascinating article questioning the organization of companies: Does the company still need a workplace? After many years of focusing on structural, organizational, financial and human variables, it is time to tackle the spatial issue, taking a fresh look at it, to think of the workspace as a subject - its utility - rather than an object - its surface - and to make the company a place for meetings and continuous learning, a source of innovation and performance, but also a source of attractiveness and talent retention. A new organization of space must facilitate breathing between the time of connection and exchange and the time of concentration and distance - a breathing that is now indispensable to all forms of creation.
Julien Eymeri, organization consultant, editor of the article, explains the results of a survey conducted by a company manager in California, among his employees: the office does not appear to be a favourable place for efficient work, but the answers also seem to show a willingness to flee from everything the office represents: a dedicated and fixed physical space, invested over a determined and collective period of time (the "office hours").
 
The 7e edition of the Actineo Observatory barometer of the quality of life in the office, carried out with the Sociovision Institute. (2), helps answer a number of questions such as "What is the environment perceived as ideal by the working population working in an office? "Is the announced transformation of workspaces (flex office, open space, coworking, etc.), fuelled by a hyper-connected and collaborative millennia-old generation, really underway? "Are space and time management the new challenges to be taken up by companies? ».
 
To date, 3 out of 5 working people are now working in a closed office but 2 out of 5 are ready to work in flex office (without an assigned work station). New practices reveal that 32 %s use coworking, fablabs, innovation incubators (45 %s of working people under 35 years old); 1/3 of French working people working in offices wanted to practice teleworking and 25 %s practice it officially. More than 1 worker out of 4 is a regular nomadic worker.
 
 
For British architect Frank Duffy, a specialist in the design of workspaces, in a paper published in Stream 02the city of the future will be oriented towards mutualisation, interaction and socialisation. Office buildings must move towards smaller surface areas, more flexible rental methods and more generous circulation spaces to encourage encounters. The current real estate offer, dominated by a logic of transactions, is still too far removed from these reflections on the uses and function of space.
The increasing power, reliability and ubiquity of technology raises a fundamental, even existential, question about the utility and value of physical place in an increasingly virtual world. What does it bring more than virtuality? Combined, universal synchronization and instantaneous connectivity seem well placed to displace increasingly superfluous spatial and temporal conventions - such as that of working in constant interaction throughout the day. Knowledge workers - that is, all of us, sooner or later - will be liberated from these obsolete conventions. The life and economy of cities will certainly be invigorated by the growing number of people taking advantage of flexible working hours and the intellectual potential developed by ever more spontaneous and incidental connectivity.
Knowledge workers, who are mobile and in control of their time, will need much less office space but will use it much more intensively - whether by the hour, by the day, by the week or by the year. Time use surveys have already sufficiently demonstrated that a large proportion of office space is currently, and seriously, under-utilised - up to 50% - even during the traditional eight-hour work week.
Flexible and mixed-use spaces will be highly appreciated. The already obvious surplus of conventional office space will be reconverted and adapted to new functions. New types of buildings and new forms of rental will be designed to accommodate varied and complementary uses.
 
 

Which office tomorrow?

What will be the new ways of working tomorrow? Even if telework is becoming more democratic in France with the Macron ordinances and is recommended by the Minister of Labour, Muriel Pénicaud, 17% of employees who request telework are refused. (3).
The recent difficulties in transporting the French with the episodes of SNCF strikes or pollution problems have highlighted the interest of alternative solutions to home-work transport such as teleworking or coworking. So, how can we understand and analyse mobility and teleworking practices to prefigure the city of tomorrow, knowing that 65% of employees want to be able to work remotely with 98% in the under-25 age group?
 
An innovative experiment will be launched on Thursday 7 June. It will allow to test new ways of working, but will also allow to collect data on these practices. This anonymised data from the Neo-nomadic platform (4) will be supplemented by qualitative interviews. They will make it possible to measure the impacts of these new working practices at the level of the participating organisations, but also at the level of the territories in which they are established. Néo-nomade has joined the Michel Serres Centre (5) to create this unique experiment called Which office tomorrow?
"The fact of entering into a collective dynamic, by accepting to share to give and to share experiences all this will benefit the territories which, for the first time, will be able to quantify, to evaluate the impact that the new work practices, called telework and mobility, can have on the transport infrastructures and the location of activities in the first and second crown thanks to this work outside the office .". says Nathanaël Mathieu, co-founder of Neo-Nomade."Faced with these challenges, companies are questioning themselves and looking for new models. We believe that the solution lies in a clever mix of expertise, technological tools and collective intelligence. This is why we have joined forces with the Centre Michel Serres. From this meeting was born Which office tomorrow? ”
 
Ambition? Accelerate the implementation of new work practices. Which office tomorrow? aims to enable companies and administrations to test new ways of working and analyse their impact on the organisation, the quality of life of employees, mobility, performance, etc., as well as on the territories in which they are located.
An experiment combining research and digital tools: Which office tomorrow? consists of four phases:
- a diagnostic phase to enable the company to know where it stands on these subjects and to set a course in terms of transforming work practices ;
- a test phase in which the company, once the course has been set, chooses the practices it wishes to explore with its employees: teleworking, the use of coworking spaces for its employees, the development of internal coworking spaces, etc.
- an analysis phase piloted by the Michel Serres Centre, which marked out the experimentation with monitoring indicators (on transport times, quality of life, performance, etc.). In addition, qualitative interviews will be carried out with the experimenters from time to time to enable an in-depth analysis of the impacts of the new working practices being tested.
- a balance sheet phase in which the results are communicated to the organisations in a feedback document with suggestions for initiating the company's transformation.
Following this assessment, a report for the common good will be available free of charge to all partners in the experiment.
 
At the same time, Neo-nomade has developed a digital platform for managing mobility in the workplace that allows to record all the data studied in complete confidentiality: teleworking practices, work location and travel, use of coworking.... Available on iPhone/Androïd application and in its desktop version, Neo-nomade allows employees to work in mobility in a simpler and more efficient way to, for example, declare their day at work from home, reserve a coworking space or a meeting room, or even find colleagues ...
Moreover, Neo-nomade allows the company to follow in real time the evolution of these new uses, the profiles of nomads and more generally the associated impacts such as quality of life, performance, real estate and collective.
 
The programme is national, with an initial deployment in the Ile-de-France region, with the support of the Ile-de-France Region and Paris La Défense, and in the Nantes metropolis. Although coworking was invented in the metropolises, it is increasingly popular in the suburbs and in the countryside. For them, it represents a means of (re)vitalizing themselves.
The programme is open to all companies and organisations wishing to test new working practices related to office mobility or office evolution. Companies will be able to join the experiment between September 2018 and June 2019 for a minimum period of six months.
 

Meeting with Nathanaël Mathieu,

co-founder of Neo-nomade and head of LBMG

 
 Nathanaël Mathieu, on June 7, you are launching an experiment called "Nathanaël Mathieu". Which office tomorrow? With Neo-nomade, you have already started to redesign your work models. Why should office work be reinvented?
 
Work is undergoing a major metamorphosis and the use of the office as it is still practised no longer corresponds to the needs of workers or companies. Work organisations are evolving towards more flexible forms and require teams to be assembled, recomposed and federated, often operating partly at a distance. The physical meeting of individuals at work also reveals more needs for conviviality, collaboration and inspiration than compartmentalized, uniform and often standardized spaces.
 

 You are encouraging companies to implement a work revolution based on mobility and teleworking, among other things. How do you convince them? What can make a company or organisation abandon the traditional office model and embark on the adventure of teleworking, nomadism and coworking?
 
Today a majority of French people can, if they wish, work at a distance. This growing mobility cannot be limited to the provision of laptops by the company, it must be accompanied because it implies trust and a change of posture for many executives and managers. Convincing them is not so simple. Very often the subject of telework appears through a specific event: relocation, the need to attract or keep a particular resource, pressure to travel. It is then necessary to take advantage of these opportunities to experiment and go beyond clichés, especially around remote efficiency or the link with the work group.
Furthermore, we do not really encourage companies to abandon the office, but rather to review its role. People come to the office less and less because they have to, but for a very specific reason: to find their colleagues, to attend a meeting, to access particular resources or tools, etc...
When you ask the question, "why do you come to the office? "during our interventions, we noticed that in 70% cases it is for "social" reasons. It would therefore be wrong to speak of the end of the traditional office because its role both at the social level and at the level of the identity of the company remains important. It is rather transformed into a collaborative "hub" and is extended by many other work spaces such as home, coworking, high-speed train, etc..
 

 Is teleworking really a reality in France today? Do you have figures and performance measures?
 
There are a lot of numbers on the subject. There are between 15 and 20% of teleworkers, two-thirds of whom have so far done so informally. With the Macron orders, occasional telework is now easily activated. This will further facilitate its deployment within the population and particularly within VSEs and SMEs.
It should be noted that just over a year ago, almost one in two employees were refused telework. (CFDT's Let's Talk Work Survey). There is still a long way to go.
I would like to take this opportunity to point out that on average French people telework 1.2 days a week. This is a far cry from teleworking, which cuts off the collective.
 
 

 The new way of working that you advocate is based on a network of coworking spaces. Working at home is not a solution? Why not? How to organize one's work in a coworking space? Is there enough of it in France? How do you see their future?
 
The new way of working that we recommend is based on the fluidity of spaces and the freedom to choose one's working environment. Coworking is an alternative to the office and home for those who cannot or do not want to work from home. We should not seek to oppose the different practices of working at a distance. Some companies have created their own nomadic workspaces, others choose coworking.
 
We think that coworking is a plus to all this because, in addition to the real estate solution it represents, it opens the door to a second work collective, to an opening towards the outside of the company and, for some employees, a real breath of fresh air. Our first experiment in 2015 also brought out different user profiles:
Sedentary people looking for space where they can concentrate; 
the adventurers who go to coworking grounds for exchange, innovation;
social workers who are looking for a working community that complements that of the company;
coordinators who come here for meetings instead;
ultra nomadic people, such as sales representatives, who use the premises for short periods of time and without necessarily being connected to other users.
As you can see, these needs are very different and the spaces or services must be adapted and designed accordingly. 
 

 In your desire to revolutionize the way people work, you may have realized that these new forms of activity could not take place without a minimum of organization. You have therefore edited the Neo-nomad digital platform. What does it consist of?
 
Today we share car, bike, apartment and more and more our offices. This mutualisation has economic and ecological interests but can disrupt our organisation when it comes to the workspace.
Neo-nomad has been designed as a global mobility tool, which facilitates and simplifies the mobile work of employees by offering them a wide choice of work modes and workspaces: for example, declaring one's day as a teleworker, reserving a coworking space or a meeting room, or even locating and finding colleagues!
Moreover, we do not see the Neo-nomadic service only as a technical platform because beyond the app, we initiate and support a cultural and managerial transformation.
 

 Isn't this application an even more intrusive means of control over their employees for a company's managers? Aren't you in the process of establishing even stronger and more subtle links, because they are digital, between the employee and his company?
 
This application has not been designed as a control tool, but as a tool to help streamline the organization of work in a world where work is done more and more frequently at a distance. The objective is to facilitate the mobility of work to make it a real gain for employees, companies and territories.
This presupposes that the companies that launch these schemes do so for the right reasons: in a climate of trust and goodwill - these are things we take care of in the upstream discussions with companies and in the support we offer.
That said, it is also normal and justified, if only from a legal or insurance point of view, that companies also want to regulate these practices and have a minimum level of monitoring. As a result, certain information, in particular the declaration of teleworking days, could be used by HR departments to formalise the system. Just as you declare your leave in an HR system today. Working in mobility implies "rights and duties" and our tool has been designed to enable this balance.
The idea is also to use the anonymised data to understand the impacts for the company (Quality of Life at work, travel, occupation of m2...) and for the territories.
 

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 You argue that this neo-nomadism of work will transform the city and the territories. What do you mean by this promise?
 
The inhabitants of large metropolises suffer every day in their commuting to and from work. We are in a race to invest in infrastructures with unfortunately increasingly limited means that are not adapted to the growth of cities.
 
For years eco-mobility schemes have been put forward: carpooling, cycling, car-sharing and teleworking has been somewhat forgotten. There were several reasons for this. The administration was not exemplary and it did not have a lot of clout with decision-makers in companies. And yet if you look at the expectations of the employees of La Défense, the leading business district in Europe, in terms of ecomobility (results of the PDIE 2015). There are 50% to see teleworking as a solution to their problems, far ahead of carpooling or car sharing at 5 or 6%.
 
The non-mobility linked to teleworking, whether at home or coworking, deserves to be explored and supported. This is why we are launching what office tomorrow? and we are going to pay particular attention to the analysis of data for companies, but also at the level of the territories that support us, such as the Ile-de-France Region or Paris La Défense. 
 

 In your remarks you often say that you want to put the human at the center. How do the new forms of work that you are advocating fulfil this objective?
 
Launching these experiments is already putting people back at the centre of management's preoccupations and getting into a real logic of improving the quality of life at work.
It also means putting the employee back at the centre of reflections on work organisation. We talk about co-design or, more broadly, empowerment. By leaving more choice and "freedom" in their working time and space, we rebalance life time. Moreover, we have realized that the office is a universal subject on which everyone has an opinion and a desire to contribute. This is why we think that taking advantage of a reflection on the office of tomorrow in a logic of collective design and a good way to involve employees and experiment with less top-down practices.
 
 
 
(1) Source: Actineo Observatory - Conducted in 2014 among "2,500 private and public sector employees working in an office, from representative samples of the working population in five countries" via an online questionnaire.
(2) This 2017 barometer is based on a representative sample of 1,200 working people working in an office, and is enriched with data from the Sociovision 2017-2018 survey of all French working people. It was conducted between 26 June and 10 July 2017.
(3) source: CFDT survey Let's Talk Work - https://www.parlonstravail.fr/
(4) Pioneer since 2010, Neo-nomade is the first coworking space reservation platform in France with more than 1200 referenced spaces. Its BtoB offer enables companies to facilitate employee nomadism and make real estate more flexible. Big names such as EDF, Crédit Agricole and Generali are already using this platform for their employees. Neo-nomade was designed by LBMG Worklabs, a company that helps companies transform their work organization and create innovative workspaces.
(5) The Michel Serres Centre, created by HESAM University, trains Master's and Post-Master's level students in interdisciplinarity and global innovation by relying on three essential values: interdisciplinarity, designing projects with partners from the socio-economic world, and empowering students by making them actors of their training. The Michel Serres Centre has successfully carried out nearly 40 projects since its creation. The themes of these projects represent major challenges for today and tomorrow.
 

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