From the Director: Co-Working Space

Co-working space is currently in vogue as offices in many industries update space and look to attract the millennial generation. Is this a desirable type of space in a technology transfer office’s space? Hear from our director on the subject as the office recently added a small co-working space as part of a renovation to an old file room.

What do you see as the value of co-working space from a manager’s perspective?

One of the interesting things about tech transfer is that there aren’t any cut and dry answers, so teamwork and discussion is critically important in making decisions. In many ways I see us as professional vetters, looking at an opportunity from a number of angles in order to make better decisions. Having multiple viewpoints is important because it’s impossible to be an expert on all subject matters, or to be able to predict exactly what is going to be successful; a coworking space enables those interactions to occur and provides space for it. Innovation is being recognized all over the world, and coworking space is broadly recognized as an inherently innovative environment. Just having the physical walls down gets people in the mindset for collaboration, creativity, and innovation.

What is your vision/hope/goal for coworking space in OTT?Todd Sherer Photo

I’m someone who draws energy from having other people around, and I hope this space will provide people with that kind of energy. My goal is to have think tank sessions in there, where people from other buildings and other departments will have an opportunity to join us and feel more integrated to the OTT team in the open space. I’d also love to see the space expand, or be used more frequently.

What do you see as the pros and cons of such space?

The most direct con is the fact that due to a lack of office space there are a few cubicles, with staff, that could be distracted by the co-working space. Also, there is the water cooler effect where instead of being productive together we could get off track – as long as it isn’t in excess I might view that as a potential good thing as it gets people excited to work together, be around each other, and facilitates a team environment.

Has there been anything unexpected about co-working space?

I was surprised to have immediately felt its effect on the working environment and culture. Taking the physical wall down has created a nucleus of activity by putting numerous offices into immediate contact with one another. It is now a more open working environment and has lessened the isolated feelings among our team members.