I’ve seen a lot of different kinds of businesses pop up in our shared spaces recently. It doesn’t matter if they’re a B2B media company operating out of our coworking space or a B2C consumer product company setting up shop in our co-manufacturing space. I’ve definitely seen a lot of new growth.

An Emerging Trend

What’s more impactful is how these new and growing businesses view others around them. More and more frequently, I see strategic partnerships and collaborations spring up between businesses that operate out of our spaces. In years past, lots of companies isolated themselves in their own areas and kept their heads down. If there were competing companies in the same space, the tension was palpable. Rival employees would struggle to say good morning to each other, let alone make eye contact.

What I’m starting to see, however, is a shared sense of community emerge. What’s it look like?

  • New tenants like Business Radio X use their platform to promote and connect other businesses within and outside of the shared space.
  • Competing marketing and media companies engage in conversation to help each other navigate different stages of business development.
  • Seemingly disparate consumer product companies help each other establish their online retail presence.
  • Employees from different businesses communicate and collaborate on launching unofficial “bring your dog to work” days.

The Economy’s Influence?

The level of collaboration and community is definitely up. I’d like to think it has something to do with the vision we had when we launched the Spaces side of MAC6, but it could be that the business landscape is simply changing. Or, maybe it’s just the result of a growing economy.

Studies have shown the correlation between the perception of the economy’s performance and willingness to collaborate or help others. The better the economy, the more helpful and collaborative people tend to be in the workplace.

But I see more than just helpful behavior. I see new people making new connections at a more accelerated pace than in years past. As someone who’s been on the investor side of business, this is exciting stuff. When businesses collaborate, sometimes a whole new opportunity or partnership is born. A new idea, product, or service might bloom from a conversation. If the right people are in the right places at the right times, the next big thing could be right around the corner.

Collaboration Breeds Higher Performance

Shared spaces make collaboration easier to access just by putting business owners and leaders in close proximity to each other. Proximity isn’t enough, though. Business owners have to be mature enough to understand how collaboration with others benefits their (and their collaborators’) performance. A Forbes article about the benefits of collaboration in the workplace seems to imply that collaboration breeds higher performance. Entreprenuer.com actually suggests that collaboration is as important to high performing entrepreneurs as the novel ideas they bring to the table.

Perhaps that’s what this trend is all about. Traditionally, the businesses working out of our shared spaces have been younger or led by younger leaders who have yet to unlock their team’s high-performing potential. It could be that their evolving maturity, especially when guided by others who have come before them, is starting to show.

To see entrepreneurs and business owners in our spaces pop their heads up and engage others is  hugely rewarding for my psyche. More importantly, it makes for better business. It builds community between organizations that wouldn’t have crossed paths otherwise, and it plants seeds for the next big thing…or an unofficial “bring your dog to work” day.