In the start-up business scene, working in a shared space is quite a trend. A space that inspires. A space where you are potentially surrounded by other inspirational people, all energised to make their business succeed. A space that oozes energy, coffee and fast wifi. Most importantly, a space where you can escape to and concentrate on building your own business.
Many entrepreneurs choose to work from home, but as ideal as it may sound, there are just too many distractions and temptations to move you away from the task in hand. Family, washing, ironing, cooking, pets, tidying-up, making the beds….the list could go on, and when you’re stuck in task that needs doing, moving to the household chore list suddenly becomes tempting.
So, can education learn from the shared office space movement for the benefit of educators and students? When meeting with educators, advertisers and colleagues, we have explored various shared office spaces around the UK. Some of the most inspiring set-ups have been spacious, modern and light, offering a space to think, work and collaborate. Isn’t that what we’re wanting within our schools? Admittedly, schools need to be conscientious of budget requirements, but even when working in a Victorian or post-1950’s building, it’s what you do on the inside that matters.
We’ve seen some shared office spaces which come across as being a bolt-on, with landlords trying to generate income from a space which they don’t really know what to do with. Investment has been minimal, and the most exiting aspect of the office space is leaving the area! At the other end of the spectrum, where investment, thought, and attention-to-detail is regarded, then the space does inspire. Getting the design right is critical.
Back to schools. The curriculum and education system does not exactly fit into this way of thinking or working. To many, the ways of working in a shared office space are at contrast to how schools work, but it is the duty of education to prepare students for the work vocations they are likely to face. Getting the area of space is critical, and ensuring that light, space and furniture is essential to inspire most people to work successfully. Creating space for collaborative work and to be able to freely move around – to work in a space where the individual feels comfortable, relaxed and engaged — in itself, this will yield positive results, and then when you concentrate on the little details (ensuring fast, reliable wifi is available etc!) this helps the process even further.
Shared office spaces have been around for a few years now in the UK, with many different businesses working in the same environment. These spaces offer opportunities for networking, collaboration, connections, inspiration and business growth. Many schools have the space and facilities to explore the model of shared working spaces to enhance teaching and learning for the benefit of all individuals working within (including teachers). It would take a major culture shift in many establishments to work this way, but it is worthy of consideration to see how it could work for pupils in improving their educational experiences.