Yesterday was our "midway presentation", where we present our directions after wrapping up the heavier part of the research. To me it was also a point where I could feed my process with some contextual data, since I haven't been around coworking spaces during my first phase of this work. The research analysis can be summarised on the points below and I've create some concepts to gather feedback.
DIRECTION 1: CONNECTED LEARNING
HOW TO CREATE A PLATFORM TO SHARE KNOWLEDGE BETWEEN COWORKING MEMBERS AND TURN THIS KNOWLEDGE AVAILABLE OUTSIDE THE COWORKING SPACE?
Sharing knowledge was still a challenge outside very clearly oriented events. All participants were excited about sharing their skills and learning new ones but it was hard to ideate around this area. The conference format was one example: the Unconference means that during one day someone would pitch topics to be discussed and guide this discussion. During ideation, many interesting areas, including education, were mentioned. However, during the topic’s selection, many people felt uncomfortable guiding a discussion despite the casual format.
From the observations around this area is clear that even if the coworkers seem to be early-adopters of new work-life paradigms, the word “professional” still evokes a pressure to be neutral and letting go of your perks as a person. To tackle this feeling is essential to promote a more tacit education on a work environment.
DIRECTION 2: REACTIVE SPACE AND THE COWORKING HOST
HOW TO USE THE SPACE TO BEST COMMUNICATE THE SOCIAL RULES AND WELCOME NEWCOMERS?
One of the new findings during the experiments was the role of the host. During my previous mapping there was no mention from the members to this figure that is present in most of spaces. The Host is someone hired to take care of the energy of the space, make sure everyone is having a good time and if everything works. The later ends up consuming most of the time, leaving the host with more practical tasks such as equipment maintenance, make sure there is enough coffee and space for everyone, regulate bookings and promote events. This figure is today responsible to adjust the environment to the diversity of members.
DIRECTION 3: SOCIAL NETWORKING
HOW TO TURN SOCIAL NETWORKING/BONDING EASIER TO DIFFERENT PERSONALITIES AND WORKING STYLES OF INDIVIDUALS?
There was a great emergence of ideas and discussions around how introverts behave in such a social environment. Conversation starters, isolation booths and robotic personal assistants are examples of how people envisioned how to deal with the topic. Most of the casually interviewed participants referred to coworking spaces as a way of curing loneliness, but the business model (charging by the hour) drove them away from social interactions to efficiency at work. For that reason many coworkers move, looking for a better fitting community or set of values. When the coworking host doesn’t act as a facilitator, many coworkers look for neutral agents and places, such as the Barista (on Hubud’s case, on of the coworking spaces visited during the Bali trip) and the kitchen (on HUB13's case).
the host's assistant/coworking pet
Considering the Host’s problems in addressing more than practicalities of the space, this concept proposes a form of AI to be the neutral element. A robot dedicated to address most practical requests from the space would help the host to perform on a different level, promoting collaboration without being disturbed by random tasks. The bots also create a sense of care from the whole group. When embodied, AI seems to awake similar feelings of care that we have to our pets.
A demonstration of this phenomena was registered during the CUASIA16 conference, when among us a buddhist monk seemed to treat his recently bought drone as a pet, naming it and even becoming happy or angry when it performed some tricks.
BONUS: The knowledge well
The second part of this direction is to create a common space on the coworking area where people can see requests from external peers and they can see which kind of work is being developed inside coworkings across the city.
The second concept approaches the sharing of skills in a more subtle way, taking advantage of the downtime to create connections. Individually, the concepts is based on tokens that change in color, light and texture depending of someone’s profile and can react to each other when in the same environment.
The tokens could be also used as “keys” to the space, replacing the key cards that were pointed as a negative aspect on previous research. Following up on this concept, there is potential of creating some sort of game or interactive surface to connect the tokens (i.e. on the kitchen area of HUB13).
if places could emote...
The third and final concept has a more experimental approach. Here, instead of introducing new elements to a workspace, the facilities itself are sentient. This way, the coworkers need to build a trustful relationship to acquire resources. As an example, depending of the social interactions you have inside that space you could be allowed to have more devices connected online, a special power adaptor or even artificial lights that “appreciate” your presence around them.