In an era of almost constant change, businesses that want to grow sustainably, meet consumer needs and attract talent, must look to innovate. According to a Deloitte survey, 66% of businesses felt that innovation was fundamental to their success. Not to be confused with its subjective counterpart creativity, innovation is a measurable yardstick for business growth. Innovation is about implementing shifts into an already functioning system and bringing creative ideas to life. Companies can use innovation to apply their creative thinking to solve unmet needs and reap the rewards. As the late Theodore Levitt remarked, “what is often lacking is not creativity in the idea-creating sense but innovation in the action-producing sense – putting ideas to work.”
Yet putting “ideas to work” is often easier said than done, especially when some companies cling to traditional ways of working. Outdated models of hierarchy, stagnant workflows, and uninspiring work environments all hinder a company’s ability to innovate. In contrast, co-working is a tonic that offers a fresh and creative environment that helps organizations broaden their horizons, collaborate, and grow.
As Frans Johansson states in The Medici Effect, it’s all about intersecting fields and disciplines. Johansson affirms that “innovation is most likely to occur where there is maximum diversity in cultures, disciplines, and backgrounds.” By situating teams in co-working spaces, companies place themselves right at the heart of this intersection.
Shared environments, that are populated with talented minds from a range of industries and cultures, intrinsically promote diversity of thought, empower people to share ideas, and encourage new methods of execution. By facilitating collaboration amongst a diverse range of people, flexible workspaces help to break down the barriers of communication between previously isolated companies as well as ensuring they adapt to meet the needs of today’s fast-paced marketplace.
A flexible workspace with an inclusive community also adds value by contributing to a culture of openness and connections between co-workers, ultimately improving business growth. This melting pot of diversity also encourages teams to think beyond the norms of their day-to-day and to adopt a creative mindset. This results in improved team dynamics, enhanced problem-solving skills, and proactive innovations that boost a company’s production.
Increasing employee “collisions”, whether that’s a brief conversation at lunchtime or a thoughtful discussion at an insightful business event, is fundamental to sparking inspiration that can drive business growth. With communal areas, countless business and social events, and a variety of open-plan areas, co-working spaces are a hotbed for these types of mutually beneficial collisions.
By relocating teams away from isolated, sometimes stifling, corporate environments into industry agnostic co-working environments, businesses can expose their teams to a multitude of people, cultures, and experiences. Continued exposure to that which is different provides people with the external stimuli that are required to develop unique ideas, ideas that ultimately fuel a company’s ability to compete with other market players and generate revenue.
Hong Kong is a famously open and competitive economy. Yet in recent years the city has repeatedly slipped down the Global Innovation Index, it was ranked 14th globally in 2018, as Asian counterparts such as Singapore and Japan progressed.
Recognizing that “innovation and technology are drivers for economic growth and the key to enhancing competitiveness”, the Hong Kong government has launched programs and allocated HK$50 billion of the 2018 fiscal budget to boost to combat this slide. Seen as an injection to help Hong Kong become a SMART city and to foster a culture of entrepreneurship amongst MNCs, SMEs, and start-ups alike, this investment provides a fresh opportunity to businesses of all sizes to innovate and grow.
Striking while the iron is hot, Hong Kong companies, as well as a recent influx of Mainland MNCS, have begun to leverage co-working spaces by moving parts of their teams into these multifaceted environments in order to revamp the ideation process. Connecting with nascent digitally savvy companies and up-and-coming entrepreneurs, large corporations are attempting to embed themselves with the crowd of tomorrow. Companies are also finding that their employees and potential recruits, especially younger generations, are keen to be located in these open and collaborative cultures.
Innovate for the Future
As an established international community, Hong Kong is home to businesses and workers from around the world. Asia’s World City fosters an environment of exchange that is actively being promoted by the city’s co-working scene. Cost saving aside, flexible workspaces provide opportunities for greater collisions amongst a diverse community and out-of-the-box thinking that feeds innovative ideas and creative problem-solving. Shared workspaces expose employees to relationships with different people from different backgrounds in different businesses, helping them solve problems with new ideas and a wide range of approaches. The intersection of cultures, disciplines, and backgrounds, co-working spaces are preparing Hong Kong’s businesses for the world of tomorrow.
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