Ecosystems, Sustainability, and Shared Office Space…

Without a doubt, working in an office 10 or 15 years ago is extremely different than it is today. While competition ruled the business world back then, today is a much different story, with a profound focus around cooperation and collaboration among a variety of businesses. “Co-opetition” is how I heard one person describe it, meaning that although people compete to make profit, capital, etc., were all working towards the same goal of increasing productivity in our local communities. Today, commercial real estate offices and workspaces are catering to these changes. Even more profound is how sustainability is becoming an important aspect among companies of all trades. So between changing not only the form and function of traditional office space, the goals of companies are also shifting towards a more balanced regime, with both the environment and company in concern. At Real Office Centers this new approach is facilitating excitement, energy, and real growth. So how is this being accomplished? By designing it after nature itself.

An ecosystem can loosely be described as a complex set of relationships among both the living and non-living things in a given area. These include both the plants and animals that live there, as well as the soil, rocks, water, etc. In order for an ecosystem to be considered healthy, it must be in balance, or in other words, it must be sustainable. This can only happen if each component in the ecosystem plays its role, whatever that may be. It starts with the very top, such as animals and humans, and trickles down all the way to the small microorganisms that live in the soils and dirt. Without one of these, the ecosystem becomes unbalanced, and problems present themselves in one way or the other until it can find a way to re-correct itself into a balanced environment. The relationships among the variety of the components that make up the ecosystem are endless, and there are constantly new relationships being defined on a regular basis.

So how does this relate to business; what’s the point? Shared office space revolves around the idea of creating an open environment where people and objects can come into constant contact throughout a days work. It provides opportunities for collaboration through the free exchange of ideas and conversation with a variety of businesses and people. In a way, it creates a system of its own, with the living factors being the humans and the non-living factors being the space itself. In a perfect model, each of these factors works for each other; creating a balanced ecosystem with the co-working environment. This is what makes a shared workspace sustainable. If companies could offer this type of model within their workspace, the productivity of businesses working within these environments would undoubtedly increase. Furthermore, the productivity of the community in which they work in would also increase, and as a result, the community would become sustainable.

However, sustainability in this setting encompasses more than just a balanced and healthy working environment. It involves the people that live/work there and the type of business that is being pursued. For example, an oil company wouldn’t find an easy way to collaborate with a land conservationist for obvious reasons. Sustainability needs to be the centerpiece of the space, with thoughts and ideas branching off in different directions. It could be related to the image of a tree, with the roots being sustainability, the trunk being the shared space, the branches the businesses/people in the space, and the leaves representing the new ideas and innovation as a result of collaboration that is constantly producing new and cool ways of doing business.

This idea, of course, is much easier said than done. As a business model, it relies heavily on the individuals and clients that associate themselves with the shared space. It’s not for everyone; it’s for those who are willing to share ideas and work together. It involves the very top, such as successful businesses generating substantial capital, and the little guys at the bottom, such as the startups and entrepreneurs looking for the resources to make the next move. Every component is integral to the system being healthy and sustainable. It can cycle itself through improvement and refining of ideas at a group level and consistently repeat itself with each new idea. Going back to the tree, if the tree represents a successful working environment, the ideas would be seeds, and if we want to bring sustainability to more parts of the business world, we need to plant as many seeds as possible so that sustainable ecosystems can flourish in communities everywhere.

Written by: Cameron McElroy

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