Humanising Business Heydon Youg Key takeaways

Alexia Hilbertidou, founder of Girlboss NZ, chatting with Nicola Ngarewa


Building an ecosystem of innovation

The word innovation can be found applied every day in a company, but when it comes to innovating, it is risky. Sharing and experimenting with forward-thinking ideas ask employees to become vulnerable to criticism, which is hard to do in environments that are risk-averse. 

Over the last decade, new environments were created to foster a culture where the vulnerability was celebrated and supported for individuals and startups. Through that came an increase of high-potential ideas, commercialisation of solutions, and expansion of impact creation. These environments are today referred to as co-working spaces or innovation labs. 

Today, offering employees a safe place to voice and explore the unique new idea is not just a job perk but a requirement. The challenge becomes about creating a physical and emotional environment that promotes creatives solutions to human problems and then implementing these solutions in a profitable way.

As humans, we work well in a dynamic environment that is inspiring, resourceful, human-centred and supporting. Such spaces can spark energy that can be leveraged to drive momentum for your organisation’s direction. 

Yes, co-working environments were born out of providing office space to individuals and startups. Something they would not have been able to afford on their own. In addition, co-working spaces hired community managers to programme networking and collaboration opportunities. Over the last two years, the co-working industry has matured and the offering has deepened, something that more established companies are taking notice and starting to use.  

Be unapologetic

As a new business or a freelancer, building a client base by working from home may be the cheapest and easiest option, but may not be the most conducive to work, creativity and day-to-day operations. Working from an office space awakens the professional mental perspective that gets work done, and offers credibility for a new business.  

As remote working (as a concept) continues to grow, employers are encouraging staff to re-locate in a new city that offers better work-life balance and at the same time, retain them as employees. To enable this, companies are now using co-working spaces to bring their scattered employees in one workplace.

As a remote team, they feel valued and incentivised to stay and be productive. This also confirms their position in the company and keeps them together.

As a company, they are saving on long-term lease agreements, office management costs, and retaining productivity levels. 


2. Handing over control to the employees

Johnson Corner operates 24/7, giving its members autonomy and flexibility of using its space. If long hours are necessary due to a deadline, members can stay as long as they need to. The use of technology further enables autonomy. With the power of an app, members can book rooms, activate-deactivate the alarm, keep track of upcoming events, and connect with other members virtually. 

By offering a co-working space as a perk, employees feel more trusted as they get given control of their work hours and this creates flexibility for employees. This builds trust between the employer and employee. The trick here is to not do it too much, instead offer limited days for employees to be able to access a co-working space. 


3. Engaging stakeholders and community

Co-working spaces spend enormous energy in choosing the right location that attracts plenty of foot traffic for social gatherings and is accessible for off-site leadership meetings, community workshops and evening speaker events. 

Social cooperation is encouraged and it creates meaningful relationships that make us happier, healthier, and more productive.

Businesses can leverage this strength to engage their stakeholders and customers in a human-centred environment that is naturally accepting of social cooperation.  Co-working spaces work with companies to curate personalised programmes to engage with their community; whether it is a monthly lunch-and-learn session, or quarterly evening speaker events, or daily innovation workshops or full-day off-site leadership meetings. 


4. Leveraging the co-working culture

Most co-working spaces focus on providing just a flexible workplace solution to businesses. There is a handful that invests into building a culture, and values that many established enterprises are looking to tap into, for sparking innovation and growth. 

Johnson Corner has been building a culture that is future-focused and human-centric, inspiring people to build their own world of tomorrow. Ambitious thinking, entrepreneurial mindset, transparency, and connectedness as some of its values. 

Its culture and values have sprung up from its members and the community Johnson Corner has created. Most companies that engage with co-working spaces don’t feel that the co-working space overshadows their sense of belonging and company culture, instead, it elevates them to a higher sense of consciousness. 

Employers have traditionally engaged with co-working spaces on-demand, whenever they needed to tap into the space, either to spark innovation or meet over-flow demand, to bring their remote workers together. Today, companies are partnering with co-working spaces on a long-term basis, to use their space, community, and services in a consistent fashion.