Why Problem-Solving in Groups is Useful in Coworking

Taking a cue from an NPR story, here are some ways problem-solving in groups might be useful in coworking.

by Angel Kwiatkowski

Group of people working

A story on NPR’s program All Things Considered talks about coworking. Okay. Not quite. But it does discuss one of the key components of successful coworking: collaboration.

Key in NPR’s study was the point that equal participation in problem-solving fostered more innovative solutions. The research points to why and how getting a group of people together to solve a problem is not so much about getting the “smartest” people together, but instead is about equal participation and multiple perspectives from people in the group.

A group of people. Equal participation and multiple perspectives. Hm…that sounds a lot like coworking.

Taking a cue from the NPR story, here are some ways problem-solving in groups might be useful in coworking:

  • You—the coworker—have a challenge in your work.
    Can your coworkers help you overcome a client/work challenge? This is especially effective if you ask nicely.
  • You—the coworking space catalyst—have a challenge in your space.
    Can the coworking community help you brainstorm solutions to that challenge? Or can you hop on the Coworking Google Group to ask your online coworking community for ideas?
  • You—the coworker OR coworking space catalyst—have a challenge in your local community.
    Can coworkers go beyond their coworking space walls and contribute their smarts to a local challenge? This, of course, requires extra time and energy beyond work. But you never know what sorts of beneficial connections could be made in the local community (perhaps resulting in new clients, new work, new ideas!).
  • You—the interesting person.
    Sometimes, it’s simply about getting interesting people together to see what interesting things they come up with. (And if that sounds vague—it should! The possibilities are as limitless when it comes to grouping together independent, creative, community-oriented coworkers.)

Although coworkers tend to be highly independent individuals, problem-solving in groups is where the real magic happens in coworking. This type of problem-solving has so many advantages—seen, for example, in the rise of collaborative consumption. So try problem-solving in a group—and let us know how it goes.

Image Credit: Flickr – Peter Samis

Physical Density: When Innovation Happens in Coworking Spaces

So, what does a (physical) space of innovation really look like? It looks a lot like a coworking space…and here’s why.

By Angel Kwiatkowski

Steve Johnson image from Co-Loco blog

co-loco—an Australian organization that connects independent workers with shared desk space—shared a snippet of Steven Johnson’s book, Where Good Ideas Come From in a recent blog post. In his book, Johnson traces the ways innovation happens—and why some environments are particularly good for generating new, creative ideas. Not only does Johnson look at environments in which people are innovative—he also looks to nature for clues (such as the coral reef and rain forests). And he argues that one of the patterns in innovation is physical density.

So, then, what does physical density have to do with innovation? And what does a (physical) space of innovation really look like?

In fact, it looks a lot like a coworking space.

And here’s why:

co-loco’s blog post pulled out three points about physical density from Johnson’s book:

  • Physical density creates informal networks of influence.
  • Physical density allows companies to easily grow and contract and share employees.
  • Physical density fosters diversity.

“Physical density” simply means grouping people together in the same physical space. Coworking spaces are meant to create physical density—they are spaces for independents to work together.

Physical density in coworking spaces fosters innovation because:

  • it allows coworkers to network with each other.
  • it can ignite the spark for coworkers to collaborate on projects or refer work to each other—helping them to grow their businesses.
  • it encourages coworkers from diverse personal and professional backgrounds to meet, connect, work, brainstorm and collaborate.

Encouraging creativity may be as simple as gathering people together—whether you’re a coworker or a coworking space owner. And the added bonus in coworking communities is the opportunity for long-lasting relationships and collaboration. Putting creative minds together is when innovation can happen in coworking spaces.

Image Credit – co-loco

Wiki Cleanup Effort

We have been making great progress cleaning up the coworking wiki and eradicating spam.  The first step is to start a moderator group that approves/denies people who would like to make edits.  This is a pretty easy step as folks who are not interested in coworking and only want to add links and such generally don’t try very hard.  Will Bennis from Locus Workspace in Prague personally writes everyone who doesn’t include a message in their sign up request and only one in four write him back.  We also keep a close eye on the changes RSS feed and jump in and clean house when someone mucks things up.

The space listing has been cleaned up too and moved into a specific Directory page.  We have also kicked off The Coworking Database Project aimed at creating better searching functionality.  The end result will be a fully decoupled data set with APIs to hook into various interfaces around the net.  For example, imagine the data behind Coworking in Deutschland was centralized and they were able to pull just the German spaces to power their list and map.  If you would like to get involved in that project we have a mailing we use for collaboration and it’s all listed on the project splash page.

If you are interested in helping out with the wiki cleanup work, or would like to make suggestions, just drop me a line at jacob [at] officenomads [dot] com.


La Cantine, a new coworking space in Paris!


We are happy to announce to you that La Cantine by Silicon Sentier is opened since 30 january 2008.

This is a networked collaborative workspace which facilitates conception and emergence of initiatives, new uses, products and services by accelerating ideas, creation and networked & open innovation.

Additionally, La Cantine is openned up to international networks (co-working, art-oriented platforms, alternative venues, competitive clusters, specialized research labs, colleges and universities).

Both a place of exchange and a technological showcase, La Cantine is open to professionals, tech enthusiasts and everyday users. Its 200 square meters dedicated to ascending innovation welcome all contributors to digital life.

3 fully-configurable, connected spaces, equipped with high-speed broadband:

– a Café space dedicated to meetups, information, exhibitions and project testing

– a collaborative space dedicated to project development

– a brainstorming and meeting space

At La Cantine you can

Think: meet at the Café any time of the day to exchange and get informed

Work: rent a collaborative workspace for short periods at affordable rates

Test: test products and services in development to get feedback from La Cantine’s community of users and creators.

Discuss: organize or take part in discussions and make your point at various innovative events involving a wide audience

This new collaborative space in Paris is open to all co-worker in the world.

Silicon Sentier, the Paris-based digital start-ups association, initiated the project.

Partners of La Cantine : the Ile-de-France region, Orange, the Fondation Internet Nouvelle Génération and the Cap Digital competitive cluster.

La Cantine is located in a covered passage between La Bourse and the Grands Boulevards.

151, rue Montmartre, 75002 Paris

12, Galerie Montmartre, Passage des Panoramas

Tel : +33 1 40 13 64 40

Photos, program and information on:


To stay informed about La Cantine

[email protected]

Press contact

[email protected]

To submit an event

[email protected]