Creative Microspaces & Coworking Atmospheres: How to enhance Creativity and Self-organization through Spatial and Managerial Offers

14 page Publication by Stefan Brenn, Nora Krzywinski & Joerg Rainer Noennig in Matera, Italy.
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Abstract in English:

Purpose – The creation of inspiring and stimulating atmospheres has become an urgent issue on macro as well as on micro-level. Especially in the context of the creative city-debate, but also in the field of workplace studies, innovation environments, and coworking spaces the notion of “atmosphere” has become eminent [Kwiatkowski et al, 2011]. Whereas the direct “atmospheric impact” of the respective environments on creativity, productivity, and performance is widely acknowledged, there is little knowledge yet how to purposefully create such atmospheres. The intention of this paper, therefore, is to line out how creative atmospheres can be created. It discusses how knowledge work can be influenced by combining measures for human resources (e.g. individuals, coworkers, project-teams) on the one hand, and for the self-organization of interaction and work processes on the other. Design/methodology/approach – Our paper is based on the assumption that it is extremely difficult – if not impossible – to design, decide, or determine spaces and organizations which are to bring about creative solutions or breakthrough ideas. Our investigations show that such attempts usually have failed for being too obstructive and imposing. Instead, our central argument holds that certain degrees of freedom must be allowed to knowledge workers and their environment, in order to maximize their creative and innovative potential. To support the argument, the paper reports experiences and insights from Japanese and German companies and institutions. It describes how different development processes correlate to different types of creativity, and how adequate forms of “freedom” shall be offered to them. Case studies carried out with “Co-Working Spaces”, “Garage Startups” as well as with large scale companies have resulted in definite insights regarding the (un) design of creative atmospheres.Originality/value – The results of our investigations radically question conventional design and management approaches for knowledge workplaces. In the studies, a first focus was on the spatial setup. It was found that only by leaving certain spaces within the workplace un-designed, the occupants make use of the chance to condition their work environment according to their personal needs and constraints. Low-fi, ergonomic and easy-to-use equipment supports the setting up, and reconfiguration of the work environment [Tang et al, 2011]. A second focus was on organization. New methods in project management, such as Scrum, have recently established a perspective which votes for large degrees of un-management [Schwaber, 2004]. To allow a certain amount of non-organisation is an effective means to directly involve knowledge workers in organization processes. Thus they are given the essential freedom to change and adapt their social environment in regards to non-formal interaction, flexible team- structures, and project demands. Non-organization does not mean absence of organization but stresses the fact that involved workers and stakeholders are to be given opportunities to shape their work processes themselves, and thus induce dynamic self-organization.Practical implications – Granting free budgets of time and space, offering free resources of workpower and equipment, and leaving freedom within organizational structures and company policy forms a successful strategy for creative (re) settings. Most importantly, these measures are not to be decided, determined, or designed for whatever purpose. They are to be offers, not orders. This in turn obliges the various experts to sacrifice (or at least: to share) some of their highly valued control powers and responsibilities. They are demanded to offer certain areas of their field of expertise as free “boni” to the knowledge workers. For instance, architects and designers will be asked to leave certain spaces un-designed in the building; controllers will be requested to un-control the organization in certain parts; managers must let go and activily invite surprises and uncertainty. In order to create such atmospheres of openness and collaboration, it is essential to precisely estimate the motivation of the modern knowledge workers, their work situation, as well as their highly divergent needs and desires. If this be done adequately, effective strategies can be derived for different levels. Especially on the micro-level of coworking spaces, the inherent creative potential of individuals and teams can be fully unleashed then.

Publication Year 2012

ISSN/ISBN 978-88-96687-08-6

English | Discipline Social Science