Coworking – Independence, Collaboration, Community…

7 04 2011

Photo by Luc Legay, Paris, France

In my last post about the recent Intersections 2011 conference I mentioned some of the emerging global issues in society and business that are creating a new tipping point in our world. In response, our society and our world of work is changing. As our workforce matures and Baby-Boomers and Generation X are replaced by Generation Y (the ‘Millennial Generation’) it is becoming apparent that the straight-line thinking style of the industrial era is losing relevance. We are moving into the age of networks, enabled by rapid growth in global communication technology, mobile computing, etc, and fostered by the team-based and collaborative attitudes of this generation. This trend will accelerate as Generation Z (the ‘Net Generation’) who have grown up as ‘Digital Natives’ and who value their independence fiercely, begin to move into employment.

Within this generational shift we have moved from the concept of ‘a job for life’ through ‘a career for life’ and into ‘portfolio careers’. The economic crisis has resulted in massive unemployment, particularly within our younger generations, and recent public sector job cuts will soon add to our jobless figures. Whilst the economy remains stagnant a key societal response seems to be a renewed focus on entrepreneurialism where individuals are creating jobs rather than finding jobs, and governments are supporting this with programmes that encourage new businesses – like Startup Britain.

Over the last few years this shift in our type of employment has been accompanied by a shift in where we work too. Home working has risen steadily, and there has been a dramatic rise in coffee shop culture and the availability of free public WiFi networks. As a result we now see many more independent people working away on laptop computers wherever we go. The public sector is now starting to encourage this way of working too, as a way of reducing office space and cutting costs. Adopters of this lifestyle are quick to point out the benefits that this new-found flexibility in working offers them, such as less travel. However, after a short honeymoon period, they often begin to realise there are down-sides too, such as loneliness and lack of support, and this is driving a new and rapidly growing trend of Coworking as a modern style of working based upon flexibility, low space costs, and shared values including independence, collaboration and community.

Deskmag – a blog about coworking – recently completed a global coworking survey examining this trend. Over 660 participants from coworking locations across 24 countries responded to a questionnaire about why they like coworking, where they cowork, what they like and dislike, etc. The full results of this survey are documented in a series of blog posts starting with this one: Deskmag – The Coworking Magazine – Why Coworkers like their Coworking Spaces

It seems that the number of Coworking locations has roughly doubled year on year – and by end of 2011 there are expected to be more than 1000 coworking locations across the world, so it seems to be a successful concept. I began working out of a coworking facility in Birmingham about 12 months ago. Moseley Exchange used to be a BT telephone exchange – but now its been converted into a modern open plan office where members can meet, work, learn and exchange ideas. Its a place where collaboration and innovation go hand in hand and where 50+ interesting people and businesses work from. The culture is one of being independently minded, but collaborative at heart. The centre is managed as a social enterprise designed to create jobs and wealth and help to regenerate the local economy – and in this respect it seems to be a big success story.

Moseley Exchange - A successful example of Coworking in Birmingham, UK.

There is a wide mixture of business types based here including Architects, Designers, Film/TV and Radio Producers, Marketing Consultants, Programmers, Trainers, Arts Companies, etc. The benefits are many and there is a lot of interaction going on, working together with clients, assisting each other with specialist advice, passing opportunities and leads to others, networking, and socialising. Its like being in a larger corporate office but without the constraints. There is now an ‘International Coworking Visa’ scheme that allows members in Birmingham free use of similar offices in London, Berlin, Paris, New York, Los Angeles, Mumbai and in nearly 200 other global locations. There are growing links across this wider network, and over 100 people recently attended a coworking ‘unconference’ at SXSW in Austin, Texas, where discussions included how to develop the global network further for the benefit of all participants. Big corporations are starting to realise that coworking offers opportunities for them too, including greater creativity and innovation within their employees. So expect to see more coworking locations popping up near you, and I suggest you might like to try them out sometime. Every coworking location I know of is more than happy for guests to drop in.

Contact me if you would like to know more about coworking and how you can find one close to you or even set one up yourself!

James Rock – MD and Chief Business Designer, CULTIVAR Consulting


Dott Cornwall : Design-Thinking in practice

21 11 2010

Dott Cornwall is bringing together local communities and world-class designers to work on projects that improve how communities in Cornwall live, work and play.

I was privileged to be able to interview Programme Director Andrea Siodmok and we chatted about the work they are doing.  She describes how this social enterprise is using Design and Design Thinking to help solve the problems faced by Cornwall’s communities.

The interview lasts about 20 minutes :-

Andrea Siodmok - Courtesy Design Council website

Follow this link to audio file: –

Dott Cornwall : design thinking in practice

from Cultivar on Vimeo.



For more information visit their website: Dott Cornwall

If you would like to discuss how Cultivar can help you to develop and implement Design Thinking in your organisation then please get in touch.

James Rock – MD and Chief Business Designer

Avoiding Mediocrity – An Exemplar of Sustainability…

23 03 2009

Do you ever wonder if those reports you hear about a company’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and Sustainability programmes are for real? or, like me, do you often think they are mere “Greenwash” i.e. all words and no action – talking it up, but not walking the talk? As a consultant working in the field I have come across more than one company who says all the right things but fails to put them into practice.

So I was really enthused last week when I came across a company that seems to really be putting its weight behind the development and implelentation of sustainable practices.  Adnams of Southwold are part of the historical fabric of this up-market seaside town in Suffolk.  After sampling some of their wonderful range of beers in local pubs, I came across the Sole Bay Brewery in the heart of town, then their fantastic new  flagship Cellar & Kitchen retail outlet, and then a magnificent new 40,000 square metre distribution centre on the outskirts of town, which boasts the largest green roof in the UK. Later that weekend I sampled really good food and wine at The Crown Hotel – owned by Adnams along with another major hotel in town. Everything that I observed about Adnams further convinced me that this is a company that gets really close to its customers, and lives and breathes sustainable working practices for the benefit of all stakeholders.  After seeing so much mediocrity in business it was truly refreshing – just like a pint of their Broadside beer!


As you can see from my comments, I am enthused by Adnams the beer and Adnams the company, and I will be using them as an example of best practice in my consutling work in future… I’d like to suggest thet you check them out when you get the chance.

Sign up to Earth Hour and save the world… 28 March 2009

20 03 2009


On Saturday 28 March more than 1 billion people across the world will turn off their power from 8.30 – 9.30 pm. This action is their way of expressing their vote to save our precious planet. The energy saved during this period is expected to top 10% of normal global consumption.

Cultivar has signed up and is comitted to doing something positive on 28 march. Will you vote for our planet too?

Find out more about Earth Hour… Make a personal commitment, tell your famly and friends, get your business to sign up, make a difference!

Earth Hour

How to spot the upturn early…

25 02 2009

If you, like me, are keen to spot the green shoots of recovery then where will you be looking?

I spotted this interesting blog over at Harvard Business Review where the editors blog has been discussing the subject – click on the following link to  go to the article: – HBR Editors Blog

What signs will you you be looking for? I’m watching for private sector executive jobs to come back into the Sunday Times recruitment section.

Share your suggestions below with other readers…


Corporate Social Responsibility – Pangea Day 10 May 2008

13 02 2008

What is Pangea Day? Pangea Day taps the power of film to strengthen tolerance and compassion while uniting millions of people to build a better future.  In a world where people are often divided by borders, differences, and conflict, its easy to lose sight of what we all have in common.  Pangea Day seeks to overcome that – to help people see themselves in others – through the power of film. On 10 May 2008, Pangea Day sites in Cairo, Dharamsala, Kigali, London, New York City, Ramallah, Rio de Janeiro, and Tel Aviv will be videoconferenced live to produce a 4 hour programme of powerful films, visionary speakers, and uplifting music.  The programme will be broadcast live to the world through the internet, television, digital cinemas, and mobile phones. Of course, movies alone can’t change the world.  But the people who watch them can.  So following 10 May 2008, Pangea Day organisers will facilitate community-building  activities around the world by connecting inspired viewers with numerous organisations which are already doing groundbreaking work. For more information watch the short video clip below and  visit the website :-““This is an opportunity for you to encourage friends and colleagues to participate in what should be an inspiring day, and become engaged in wider social issues afterwards.  I am trying to organise a group screening of the Pangea Day worldcast live in Birmingham.  If anyone would like to become involved and help me to do that then please contact me at:

Body, Brain and Business… 27th February 2008

28 01 2008


How often do you stop and think how the body and brain work together in a business context?  Not many of us ever do!  However,  we can reach higher levels of human potential by learning to use the greater “intelligence” offered by our bodies and brains acting in unison. Thinking, learning, collaboration and creativity are all enhanced by getting bodies and brains to work in harmony to support continuous, complex learning and high-level performance, without stress and burn-out.  A forthcoming conference on this subject will bring together some of the most informed and exciting thinkers from business, science and the contemplative arts.  The conference will take place on 27th February 2008, at the beautiful, eco-friendly and inspiring Sheepdrove Eco Conference Centre in Lambourn, Berkshire.  It is designed for independent thinkers who want to lead with wisdom and clarity, entrepreneurs and managers who want to grow their potential, and thoose who want to step up creativity and change.  Visit the conference website for more details: