Deconsuming Vancouver : supporting shared work spaces in the city Lal, Sejal
How can the City of Vancouver support and facilitate shared work spaces between businesses to help reduce overall resource use in the city? To help answer this question, I decided to look at the idea of shared work spaces in the broader context of the sharing economy. The sharing economy is an economic model based on the sharing of under-utilized assets, whether they are tangible (space, products, tools, etc.) or intangible (time, skills, services, etc.) commodities, directly with those with similar needs. The assets are shared between individuals, peer-to-peer search networks, or such as the case I address, shared between businesses. I interviewed 4 owners of shared work spaces within Vancouver, with questions pertaining to why they participate in shared work spaces, the ways by which their consumption of resources has decreased by engaging in shared spaces, and the challenges they have encountered in setting up and running their space. From the results, I found that the primary reasons the interviewees engage in shared spaces is not for reasons of sustainability as I had anticipated. Instead, they were participating in shared work spaces for the ability to interact and cross-pollinate ideas with other like minded people, and for the financial flexibility allowed when the costs of rent for a work space and the resources needed are shared between many people. The results from the interviews suggest that there is a lack of recognition of what shared spaces are amongst the City of Vancouver (hereby noted as “the City”), and that the cost of rent in the city has been a financial barrier for almost all the interviewees. As such, I recommend that in order to support the share economy and shared work spaces in Vancouver, the City should: 1. Create a business category that recognizes shared work spaces in the City to make it easier for shared space owners to navigate policies surrounding setting up the space; 2. If possible, set some controls on the cost of rent for commercial and industrial space in the city, to prevent shared work spaces from shutting down or being pushed out of commercial and industrial zones due to gentrification; 3. Perhaps consider allowing shared work spaces to establish in residential zones, in effect creating shared live-work spaces, as these seem to have even greater potential to reduce overall consumption of resources.
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