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Coworking, Crowdsourcing and the Future of Work

Coworking, Crowdsourcing and the Future of Work

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Published by: Crowdsourcing.org on Mar 08, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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March 6, 2012
Coworking, Crowdsourcing and the Futureof Work 
The way we work is changing pretty radically. We all know thatbecause we are smack dab in the middle of the change. We feel itevery day.But, the interesting thing about how work is changing is that the placeswhere the majority of work is done (corporations) seem to be the leastwilling to embrace the fact that work is changing. When you startscanning for new models of work, the most compelling concepts seemare found outside of the traditional organization--generally rooted inentrepreneurship or the internet or both.There are two models that I'm particularly interested in and that I thinkcould have some profound impact within traditional organizations if wewere just willing to open our mind a bit. These models are coworkingand crowdsourcing.Crowdsourcing is, at least I hope, becoming a more common concept.It seems that people are beginning to understand the basic idea of giving a task to the masses and letting those who are interestedparticipate in shaping the outcome. But, crowdsourcing is so muchmore than allowing customers to chose the new flavor of MountainDew. When you consider the models of companies like Topcoder.com,  Innocentive.com andothers,you find that companies are taking real projects, posting them to the online community and offering up abounty ($$) to whoever comes up with the best solution or product.
Literally hundreds of thousands of people are working on theseprojects and not all of them are professional freelancers andconsultants. Many of these folks are your employees, doing this workin their "free" time because it's challenging, they can pick their project,and they know up front what the reward is. This model is explodingand it's changing the game of work.While there are many companies who have started looking tocrowdsourcing as a way to supplement their internal development orR&D efforts, I think that the real opportunity might be to unleash thepower of crowdsourcing internally. Why not post cool or challengingprojects internally and let individuals or groups of people chose whatthey'd like to work on? Why not allow your own employees to pick andchose some of their work? Or, to take it a step further, why notcompletely blow up the idea of a job description and the formalposition structure? Instead of having a formal position, why not changethe system completely? Assign point values to tasks and projects andthen post them for individuals to work on. Then, allow your talentedfolks to pick and chose what tasks they work on with the expectationthat they deliver at least so many "points" worth of work each monthor quarter. This is probably far too simplistic, but you get the picture.The potential to apply the principles of crowdsourcing internally areunlimited.
The second practice or model that I think has great merit is coworking.Here's how Wikipedia defines coworking:
is a style of workwhich involves a shared working environment, sometimes an office, yet independent activity. Unlike in a typical office environment, those coworking are usuallynot employed by the same organization
.Typically it is attractiveto work-at-home professionals, independent contractors, orpeople who travel frequently who end up working in relativeisolation.
 Coworking is the social gathering of a group of people,who are still working independently, but who share values,
 andwho are interested in the synergy that can happen from workingwith talented people in the same space.
 When you investigate coworking, the first thing to understand is thatpeople are choosing to participate in coworking because it helps themdo better work. And, when you read about it or talk to people who doit, the common themes you hear about why it works are pretty telling:openness, diversity, flexibility, shared values, and socialization. Thepeople in these coworking spaces aren't your ordinary, everydayworkers either. They are talented, motivated, driven creators of work.These are the people who we covet in corporate recruiting circles, butwho have opted out of the corporate hamster wheel because theydon't like being told how to work--and they are talented enough todictate their own terms.

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