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19.03.24 Business


A key feature of a thriving coworking space should always be to empower its surrounding community, not just those who pay to become members. Yes, it’s essential to keep the needs of your membership at the forefront of your mind when building a coworking community, but I would argue that fostering strong and wide community bonds benefits your members more than you might initially think.

In a professional context, one of the first concepts that might immediately spring to mind is that of Corporate Social Responsibility, but there a few issues with this.

What is CSR, and why is it antiquated?

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), refers to totality of initiatives (or lack thereof) used by a company to take responsibility for its impact, on the environment and on society. It can be philanthropic, involve ethical working practices, sustainability and community engagement. Which sounds pretty decent right? And, to an extent, it absolutely is. But what is the end of that extent? CSR is often a one-dimensional approach that can increasingly fall victim to greenwashing, focusing too much on offsetting and less on actually addressing any underlying issues. But, it could be argued that the main problem is how CSR fails to be sustainable in nature and doesn’t address the economic leg of the triple bottom line – meaning it doesn’t create any long-term value for the company and its stakeholders, because if the company goes bust, it’s no longer able to drive any sort of impact.

What is CSV, and how does it stack up to CSR?

Creating Shared Value is the natural evolution of Corporate Social Responsibility, a somewhat dated term, largely due to the sheer amount of stakeholders now involved in the flex industry. It’s now vital to look at an organisation’s impact, less from the perspective of “How can we show that we are being responsible?” and more “How can we maximise the value that all stakeholders are getting out of our spaces?”. Shifting the lens of how we view impact in the flex space can facilitate how providers are actually able to maximise it.

Basically, CSV is all about getting as much value as possible from the same resources, to benefit the largest number of stakeholders simultaneously. This can be difficult to ascertain, but it needs to be asked every time there’s an opportunity to collaborate with another organisation.

An Example of CSV at PLATF9RM:

Enter the collaboration between PLATF9RM and the Screen and Film School in Brighton.

This year will be our second working together and I feel confident that we’ve pinpointed a project that not only provides the students with a real-life project management experience, but it also provides PLATF9RM with a valuable piece of content to use in our communications as we see fit – a paragon of a mutually beneficial partnership.

The project is to develop a visual impact report on how PLATF9RM has benefitted the wider Brighton and Hove community. It will feature three different scopes of impact, internal – the PLATF9RM team, internal – the PLATF9RM membership and external – the wider Brighton and Hove community. The video will be developed in tandem with the written impact report by PLATF9RM, from yours truly, and various PLATF9RM stakeholders have been meeting with the students on a bi-weekly basis in PLATF9RM

So, how does this exemplify Creating Shared Value?

PLATF9RM Benefits:

  • From a company perspective, PLATF9RM gains a curated video report that they’re able to use in different marketing campaigns or simply feature on their website as a way to demonstrate their impact.
  • The PLATF9RM team are able to share insights on their roles and advise how to best translate that into video format. For employees it can feel incredibly valuable to share your expertise and can provide a different way for employees to feel fulfilled in their work. “Working with the Brighton Film School students has been such an energising experience. Their deft and instinctive proposals have contributed to a renewed sense of hope in the future generation of young professionals!”- Imogen Phillips , Hospitality and Events Lead at PLATF9RM

Screen and Film School Benefits:

  • The Screen and Film School are able to involve their students in a real-life working environment, free of charge, full of creatives and professionals from different industries.
  • The students get to apply the theory of their classes to a low-stakes client in PLATF9RM and receive continuous feedback on their project. They also get to work and learn from a prospective client on their real-life wants and needs
  • Another advantage outside of this is to simply change up the working environment for the students and experience working in a different space. This helps a lot in terms of optimising creativity. “The students thrive in this partnership, and the impact of this experience with Platf9rm can be seen in both their individual skills awareness and by high attainment grades. The roles and responsibilities they adopt throughout this collaborative work has enhanced their ability to plan, time mange and crew up effectively for ongoing internal and external work ventures.” – Claire Webster, Course Leader BA (Hons) Film Business and Production at the Screen and Film School Brighton.

Community Benefits:

  • From a community perspective, people increasingly like to support businesses they feel match their own values, “I think it’s crucial to feel like the space you work in is representative of the wider community and shared values. I also think that it’s important in helping organisations have a better understanding of their members & what is important to them. The value of the membership is then enriched by the wider community and giving people a sense of belonging”- Bronte Nicoll , Senior EMEA Manager at Infuse Media & PLATF9RM Member
  • Another major long-term advantage for the wider community is how the partnership can show students that they can practically make use of the theory and skills developed in their degree, but within the Brighton and Hove area. This can help keep local talent, local. Demonstrating how there is corporate work available to creatives in the area. Something that can sometimes seem unlikely and daunting for up-and-coming creatives. This ultimately can help strengthen Brighton and Hove’s dynamism and illustrates how the city can continue to sustain such an influential environment.

From personal experience I can speak to the real impact of Creating Shared Value in the coworking industry and hope to continue to build this type of sustainable partnership going forward.