Blockchain co-working spaces promise to bring the best of community, collaboration, networking, business development, and work-life balance to the world of blockchain technology. Some even use the technology for their daily operations.
Across the world, the so-called gig economy has grown by orders of magnitude over the past few years, becoming substantially larger than many legacy industries. Due to a hodgepodge of enabling circumstances including economic uncertainty, technology, and millennial culture, fewer and fewer people dress up to go to a conventional office building every morning. Even the vocabulary of work culture is changing; the centuries-old stricture of a “job” is now being replaced with the newer phenomenon of a “project” or a “gig.”
Much of the time, these gigs are collaborative efforts or are at least facilitated by proximity to a community of like-minded individuals working on similar projects. Everyone from professional writers to coders has a tribe to draw inspiration and strength from, and the work and interaction generally take place in a space designed to maximize collaboration and creativity.
The “co-working space” is one of the most significant changes in the world of 21st-century work, as it is a marked departure from the industrial workplace model of the 20th century which encouraged conformity, silence, and strict adherence to rules and conventions, often with significant punishments attached to flouting these strictures. These days a developer working on a gig or a new content development startup is more likely to be found getting work done in a colorful open plan workspace with a snooker table, a game console, and the constant murmur of conversation in the background.
Supporters of the co-working space model point to its potential to foster networking between independent professionals with complementary skills to help grow each other’s businesses or projects. The unique aesthetic of the modern co-working space is a feature and not a bug, with the bright colors and entertainment equipment designed to help users express their creativity and bond over enjoyable activities.
In general, co-working spaces fall into three main categories namely, collaboration spaces, mainly used by creatives, developers and designers, research and production spaces favored by makers and small-scale manufacturers like 3D printing operations, and display and showcase spaces favored by retailers and marketers.
At a time when blockchain technology has left its prints everywhere from governance in the U.S. to food supply chain management in China, co-working spaces are having their blockchain revolution moment. The technology can assist the logistics of co-working management processes like membership agreements, procurement, and digital visibility, as has been established conclusively.
A new generation of co-working spaces, however, are going beyond merely incorporating the blockchain into their processes. These spaces are now actively going after blockchain communities and dedicating areas exclusively to projects, businesses, and individuals operating within the cryptosphere. A few projects are even attempting to tokenize the process of sharing workspace.
Primalbase is one such blockchain co-working project. The company has offices in London, Berlin, Amsterdam, Singapore, and New York amongst others, and it permits users to share, rent out or sell working spaces using cryptocurrency tokens based on Ethereum and Waves.
Elaborating on the model, CEO of Primal Base Ralph Manheim told BTCManager that:
“Our Token Holders don’t pay traditional rent every month but own a token that gives them a lifetime Primalbase membership and open access to our facilities. Our more permanent tenants build and contribute to our ecosystem system long term, by renting their office space in a base city, while our token holders can work in a flexible way, hopping from office to office, wherever their work takes them.”
Using this framework, the company facilitates a system of dividing available shared office space into private blockchain community-only offices for its members.
Ralph Manheim – CEO of PrimalBase
The tokenized workspace, while novel, still looks to achieve the same networking goals as more traditional co-working spaces. Manheim explained that his firm still wants “to provide the communities of the vast blockchain, AI, VR, and other emerging technology industries with a true grounding point. This entails creating and fostering physical ecosystem where people can work with, meet, and learn from like-minded individuals.”
Orchard Block is another co-working space that doubles as an accelerator for blockchain-based businesses. On its website, it describes its co-working space as a place “where you can learn, work, and grow together with other blockchain companies on your mission to build the future.”
Several other startups are offering similar services including Neutrino Space and Fullnode Berlin, which is a co-working space in the German capital explicitly built as an anchor for blockchain companies.
While the services are new and exciting as is often the case in the blockchain space, it is important to remember that the most critical application of blockchain technology in the co-working sector is still in the logistics and mechanics of running a co-working operation.
According to a new real estate paper by professional services giant Deloitte, the main benefits of distributed ledger technologies in this space center around property management and lease transactions. These applications include smart identity verification, smart contracts, and verified trust.
The benefits offered are myriad, and are itemized below:
Real-time Data Analysis: Instant access to real-time data regarding payments and transactions through a blockchain can help with making effective business decisions. In conjunction with analytics and analysis tools, co-working operators could potentially gain a number of critical insights into their member demographics and their specific use of the workspace to find out how to serve them better.
Smart Contracts: Rather than using conventional paper-based membership agreements or e-contracts provided by software providers, smart contracts such as those based on the Ethereum blockchain gives both parties the opportunity to achieve much more including automatic execution of membership agreements and a mechanism for determining when pre-conditions have been met.
Ideally, this means that finance and accounting processes involving deposit payments and membership fee remittances are handled automatically by means of an interface between the smart contract and the relevant bank account, payment interface or cryptocurrency wallet, which saves facility managers a substantial amount of time that would otherwise be spent on paperwork such as invoice follow-ups and transaction recording.
Apart from membership contracts, facility management processes such as material and labor procurement can also benefit from a fast and trustless framework.
Smart Identities: Digitally verified electronic identities can help individuals and corporate entities save substantial amounts of time and money that would otherwise be spent on verifying their identity and checking their relevant histories. Smart identities can help when penning deals or signing tenancy agreements with landlords or estate companies, saving the expense of specialist database searches which can also be time-consuming.
Verified Trust: Following on from the previous point, the blockchain also helps with a record of the financial conduct of potential members, helping to provide an insight into whether or not they are likely to pay membership fees as and when due.
Multiple Database Modification: Storing all information on a blockchain means that it is immediately accessible to every stakeholder concerned including landlords, members, co-working operators, and service providers or contractors. This deals with the problem of duplicate documentation which itself is a security risk.
Improved Discovery: A blockchain Multiple Listing Service (MLS) allows for companies to effectively place listings on the blockchain, giving valuable visibility to the space offered. In addition to providing good publicity, it is also a cheap listing option for the provider, providing all necessary information such as tenant rates, membership rates, and location to zero in on the best qualified potential members.
For now, the blockchain co-working space remains very much a nascent one with more expectation than growth. As with all things blockchain, however, the situation is liable to change very rapidly, so if you are involved in the blockchain space, you could do much worse than getting educated about blockchain co-working. It just might be the future.
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