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Workspaces Redefined: Collaborative Communities

Millennials’ entrepreneurial ambition, coupled with disillusionment from an unstable corporate world, has influenced them towards freelance careers, and in turn, a more satisfying sense of work-life balance. A quarter of freelancers value their flexibility most, finding happiness in transient positions that work in their day-to-day environments instead of depending on a fixed, staid office space. Soon enough, this generation will be the dominant force in the working world. The generational clash happening in modern workplaces can be eased by managers on the ground level. But at the higher level of corporate development, companies are quickly realizing that they have no choice but to rethink how they’re structured in order to accommodate and encourage the “digital, fluid, and collective mindset” of young employees. Though some are sticking to “the Boomer way” and begrudgingly making minute changes, those who are turning workplace culture upside down are gaining kudos for innovation and creativity, and for fostering the talent of young makers, thinkers, and doers.
There are work environments popping up across the country that speak directly to Millennials’ adaptable mindset and group-thinking skills. In a spotlight series on workplace culture, we’re focusing on four companies and projects that have broken the barriers of communication to put collaboration and flexibility above all. These companies are innovating in order to attract young talent and make Millennials want to wake up for work every day, wherever that may be.
1. Google Garage
Google has been named the best company to work for in the U.S. for years, and is now officially the best multinational company to work for across the globe. We admire the company’s campus headquarters where food is accessible every 50 feet, slides and scooters are modes of transportation, and bouncy balls are used sit on during meetings. But outside of the office, where uninhibited thinking and tinkering is done, there is the Google Garage. Designed as a hacker and maker space, the Garage is available to everyone in the company, breaking down hierarchies and putting people of all corporate levels and areas of expertise together to collaborate on ideas and learn new things. People of all disciplines are encouraged to roll up their sleeves and work together, eliminating the intimidation factor for young employees and giving them access to a slew of creative minds at their own company.

2. The Hub
Working alone as a freelancer can be a daunting venture for recent graduates who lean on social networks and crowd sourcing for input and lack widespread networks of experienced professionals. As a solution, The Hub, a project that is celebrating its first year in Los Angeles and expanding to areas across the country, is a collaborative work environment that brings professionals together across different areas of expertise to interact and talk through ideas. Co-founder Nick Kislinger calls The Hub “ a members’ space for people who give a shit,” combining the “best of a cafe, innovation lab, business accelerator, serviced office, and community center” in order to change the way people think and do business. Millennials can not only use The Hub as a temporary workspace, but as a networking center to expand their knowledge and bring new ideas to fruition.


3. Dumpster Hackspaces
Last year, the public-minded art project Department of Urban Betterment piloted a project that put bookshelves in phone booths to motivate citywide book-sharing. Now DUB’s creative team is turning their attention to workspaces, coming up with an out-of-the-box (and into the dumpster) idea called Inflato Dumpster. This pop-up inflatable tent, currently seeking funding on Kickstarter, would live on the street and act as a community development center for five days this fall. The “dumpster hackspace” would be a place for local community members to come together, acting as “part education center, part art installation and part a rethinking of what constitutes public space.” Collaborative workspaces can be scarce in big cities, so the opportunity exists for Inflato Dumpster to grow from a temporary project to a permanent installation in multiple cities. Young entrepreneurs flock to pop-up shops and temporary exhibitions, so a “dumpster” might just be the workplace that Millennials have been looking for.


4. Workspace On Demand
The rapid pace of technological change has changed the way we work, and in many cases erased the lines between work and the office, as our work travels with us at all times. But forget the hassles of meeting in Starbucks last minute only to find the place packed and with nary an electric plug free. The Marriott believes this frenzied take on workplaces on-the-go is less than ideal, and has decided to change the way that meetings during travel are accomplished with Workspace On Demand, a program that allows users to reserve meeting spaces simply and quickly from their mobile devices. The “next gen meeting spaces” are the definition of flexible; they can be booked last minute and vary from free tables for ten to boardrooms at hourly rates. The Marriott believes that future workspaces have no walls, and will be able to travel with workers wherever they need to be; bringing the conveniences of “physical and virtual” together to reflect the reality of daily life.