Businesses are interesting places…. in this day and age…
In the olden days (like 1999), it used to be that you found a building, paid rent and your employees worked there from 9-5 every day of the week. It’s not like that anymore…
On top of these changes, there is a lot of other disruption that is going on. The only way to survive it, is to figure out how to jump into it and be your version of what that disruption is… for all of us, we simply need to hold on while that good thing lasts. The problem is – and it’s an awkward truth – we won’t be reaching some kind of plateau where everything will settle down. We are in an exponential disruption loop where change is a constant cattle prod. It used to be you could switch the font on a document in Word and presto, new report…. those days are over. Oat milk is about to disrupt soy milk, people!
But don’t despair, there is also hope in the midst of all this change (I’ll stop saying disruption now, change is far less alarming). There is a smidge of hope and it lies inside one of those corners of the internet responsible for all this carnage – the sharing economy. So if you’re thinking, ‘mmmmm…. Maybe we should try a little
disrupt change’, then read on…
Your space is valuable. When you stop to think about it, businesses make pretty inefficient use of things like boardrooms and pet project spaces e.g. the podcast studio you built and used for 12 months which now sits lonely and unwanted. Also, activity based working (ABW) is so common-place that even Governments are doing it and have been for a while! (Run a Google test on ‘activity based working Australia government’ and you’ll get what I mean). The result of ABW is that employees may not be at their desks 9-5 five days a week. All of which means, your place of enterprise, one of the most expensive elements of your business, is only half used. So what might you do with all that downtime? This is where you can start to think about sharing your spare spaces at work.
When strangers become customers: Let’s say your business is an ad agency. The age of disruption has not just shifted the goal posts… it’s eaten them and spat out sawdust… Your once local customers now make their own ads on the free version of Canva and distribute them for free on Instagram. Because your agency can’t exist off sawdust, you begin to cull some staff (the ones who don’t know what Canva is). With the new spare space you’ve created, you set-up some hot desks and welcome strangers in. Now, for all the talk of “collaboration”, it only happens when businesses create opportunities to interact with different people outside of their sphere. For example; the startup using the meeting room for 2 hours, may end up being a future client. The developer hiring your spare desk for $5 per hour might just have great tech advice for your agency. The business coach using the boardroom space for 3 days might be the one who observes a workplace issue unseen by others… meeting people is nice. Meeting people who become future connections and collaborators is even better.
I gotta gig. I know, I know…. everyone is talking about side-hustling and the gig economy. Human beings have always needed spaces and that is even more the case with the increase of startups, gigsters and hustlers. Could your place of business help out pop-up retail? Business consultants? Startups that need a boardroom occasionally? Professional trainers and others? The answer is probably and it may just be a way to keep your landlord happy and/or pay for some other bills… like Instagram advertising (how did that become a thing?)
So there you have it – your business is sitting on a potential goldmine. And it can take part in the sharing economy, very easily. The genuinely nice part is you get to connect with more people, real humans. The spaces that hold our businesses can be used for other things too – all it takes is to seize opportunity while others are busy figuring out what happened since 1999.
Jeremy Hurst is a co-founder of www.spacetoco.com