Innovation That Matters

What Can We Learn From Past Workspace Innovations?

Lessons From the Innovation Archive

In this series, we’re unearthing ideas from our extensive archive of over 10,000 innovations that are relevant to the times we find ourselves in today.

Whilst the response to the coronavirus pandemic is already spurring new and innovative ideas and solutions that may shape sectors for years to come, we can also look to the past for lessons in agility. With this in mind, Springwise is resurfacing ideas from our extensive innovation archive.

Over the last several years, we’ve been tracking emerging innovations that have changed not only the ways in which we could work but also our expectations, ethos and appreciation of what a workplace should be. Just as trips to the workshop became less necessary, so to were trips to the office.

For more lessons in business innovation, check out Disrupt! by Springwise’s James Bidwell, now available in paperback. 


Originally published: 12th February 2015

As cloud computing becomes more mainstream, it’s now possible for a large portion of the population to work from home, either as freelancers, remote employees or self-employed citizens. But working alone can be, at best, a little bit lonely and, at worst, completely unstimulating. Endless distractions and a lack of interaction can make even the most disciplined worker unproductive. Swedish platform Hoffice is hoping to offer a solution by crowdsourcing a network of free working spaces in the homes of its users — effectively bringing the sharing economy to office space.

Users begin by signing up to the Hoffice community via Facebook, which links them with other homeworkers in their area. They can then either choose to host a Hoffice event in their own home or attend a pre-existing one. The idea is to provide a loosely structured workday, in a sociable working environment that encourages productivity without ignoring other human needs — members are encouraged to start the day with meditation or relaxation exercises, for example. Work time is split up into 45-minute segments with 15-minute breaks — for exercise, conversation or games — in between.

At every event, there will be a facilitator who is in charge of keeping the structure, but members are welcome to ignore it and work at their own pace. Workspaces are always free to use but members may be asked to contribute towards costs. Hoffice is a growing network with most groups so far operating in Scandinavia — potential members from unserved areas are encouraged to start their own group and invite local people to join.


Originally published: 29th April 2016

Two hugely valuable commodities in the modern working world are great content and affordable working spaces. Marrying the two is Blogfabrik, a co-working space and publication in Berlin that invites freelancers to work on their personal projects there rent-free in exchange for monthly contributions to the blog.

Bloqfabrik, which translates to Blog Factory, has been operating for nearly a year. It is a spacious co-working environment, complete with a photography studio, event space, and meeting rooms. It currently houses 30 freelancers, who contribute two pieces of content each month to the company’s online magazine DailyBreadMag, which in turn promotes the working space and the events that are hosted there. Freelancers pitch content ideas to creative director Claudio Rimmele and are also required to organize one event per year and promote the magazine and its home using their social media channels.

The space will soon be offering “flex” desks too — these enable part-timers to make use of the space sporadically in exchange for one contribution to DailyBreadMag each month. 


Originally published: 24th September 2015

Co-working spaces have come a long way in recent years, and they are about to go a whole lot further with Coboat — a retrofitted sailing catamaran, now providing beds and workspaces for up to 20 adventurous entrepreneurs at a time. Coboat enables inhabitants to live, sleep, work and network onboard the eco-friendly, wifi-enabled boat, all while sailing the seven seas.

Coboat is a self-sustaining 82-foot catamaran that runs on solar and wind-powered electricity, and desalinated ocean water. It provides living and working space for inhabitants as well as unlimited wifi — provided by 3G and 4G along coastlines and satellite-based communications at sea. Passengers are encouraged to collaborate with their fellow travellers in their unusual work and play environment and engage with the community on and offshore.

Coboat is sailing between various global destinations in the next 12 months, including Sri Lanka, Turkey and the Canary Islands. Tickets start at EUR 980 per person for a seven-day voyage — which includes accommodation in a shared cabin, three meals a day and use of watersport equipment. 


Originally published: 6th February 2013

We’ve already seen the Winnipeg Free Press take steps to connect with the local community by opening a branded coffee shop and workspace. Now The New York Times is opening up its office space and expertise to media startups through timeSpace. 

The scheme is opening up office space at the newspaper’s headquarters at 620 8th Avenue, New York City, to provide fledgeling businesses with a four-month program. The company is looking for entrepreneurs or startups within the journalism or digital media industry and with these fledgeling enterprises, it hopes to work on refining their ideas and to open up opportunities to meet with relevant staff members. 

timeSpace will be home to three to five companies during the four-month period, who will be able to collaborate with, learn and teach each other. The New York Times will also benefit from gaining access to the innovative minds of new businesses entering the media sphere today.