These days, collaboration is everywhere and anywhere. And that’s a great thing. Especially when you know that companies could gain $900 billion to $1.3 trillion in annual value if they improved their communication and collaboration skills (according to a McKinsey study).

It’s easy to want a collaborative environment, but it’s harder to actually make it work in the long term. That’s why we’ve put together four easy steps you could take today to start walking in the right direction. Here they are:

1. Create the right opportunities for conversations and collaboration in your team

Collaboration is nothing more than conversations between people to reach a common goal. This means that if you want people to collaborate more in your company, you need to create opportunities for them to meet and exchange, in both a formal and informal manner.

Setting a time and place for people to talk and share ideas, like team lunches or casual events, is a good way to make sure that your employees are actually communicating with each other. The end goal here is for people to learn from each other and feel comfortable reaching out to anyone around them with ideas, questions, and comments.

During these conversations, people from different teams might realize that they could help each other out in ways they wouldn’t have thought otherwise, improving productivity, creativity, and motivation throughout your teams.

The team at Evernote actually pushed this concept even further. They have their entire top management team take turns at the office’s coffee shop making drinks for everyone. The weekly schedule is shared so that everyone can have a chance of catching up with any top management over a drink.

2. Make information available to everyone, everywhere

According to a study by Socialtext, employees spend up to 25 percent of their day looking for information. This means that you’re probably wasting 25 percent of your staff cost just because you’re not making it easy enough for your teams to find what they’re looking for, when they’re looking for it.

Making information available to anyone is all about using the right tools or the right processes. Companies like Buffer and Stripe, for example, resort to fully transparent emails to make sure that everyone in their teams has the ability to stay in the loop if they want to. And all information is just a search away. Here at Front, our own app obviously lets us track down information and share it while working together in the same inbox.

Other apps like TrelloAsana or Slack (amongst others) are great ways to relay important messages, give visibility to your team on different subjects, and get different streams of information available to anyone without cluttering their inboxes.

3. Push your employees to work outside of their job description

Just like having lunch and coffee together can push people to exchange on the things they’re working on in an informal manner, actually encouraging people from different teams to work together outside of their job descriptions can be really beneficial to them, the team, and your company.

This means getting people from your customer support team to sit down on product meetings to give new insights. Or have your sales team give feedback on the new design you’re releasing. Or maybe even ask your engineers sit down with your marketing team to see if they couldn’t work on an interesting plug-in for acquisition.

Bringing different people outside of their usual context to work on projects that aren’t usually in their reach will definitely spark creativity and push innovation and collaboration forward.

4. Don’t go too fast, too strong

Collaboration is a tricky matter. In most cases, you need to have your entire team on board with you to make it work. And it means that you need to convince each and every one of your team members to adopt whatever new habit you’re trying to implement by showing them what’s in it for them. If you try to make too many changes to your normal workflow too quickly, there’s a big risk people won’t be able to follow.

To do this, it might be a good idea to sit down with your team and work out together the best ways to integrate collaboration habits in your workflow, what kind of information they feel like they’re missing, and what’s the best way to give them access to new tools or new processes.

Wrapping up

In the end, adopting collaboration habits in your daily workflow is more than just about saving money. It’s about improving productivity, innovation, and motivation in your team. It’s about getting work done. And it’s about getting it done in the best possible way.

Like Henry Ford used to say, “coming together is a beginning, staying together is progress, and working together is success.”

What are the steps you’re taking towards a more collaborative workplace? Let us know in the comments.

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Bitcoin is the inescapable “next big thing” that will reportedly replace the banks and disrupt our entire financial system. While Bitcoin and the technology it’s built on are still in their infancy, entrepreneurs can benefit from being early adopters. (Please note: The following should not be considered financial advice.)

Five essential takeaways for Bitcoin

Bitcoin is a currency built on top of a technology called the blockchain, which I’ll explore in more detail later. Here’s the main gist of Bitcoin:

  1. It allows for a culture of full transparency where all transactions can be viewed by anyone on a “distributed ledger,” a table that lists all transactions occurring on the blockchain. You can see these transactions in real time with a blockchain explorer like Blockchain.info or Blockcypher.
  2. Transactions are irreversible. Once you send Bitcoin, you can’t cancel the transaction.
  3. Transactions are anonymous. To send or receive bitcoin, you need to set up a virtual wallet. Each wallet has a unique ID composed of random numbers and letters like 1NRedxSzhx7r. This is used in lieu of a real-name identity.
  4. There are only 21 million Bitcoins that will ever be in existence, a rule hard-coded into Bitcoin’s software. These coins are generated through a process called mining, which is very similar to mining for gold or diamonds but instead uses computing power to solve a mathematical puzzle. In addition to mining Bitcoin, miners also profit off the transaction fees since their computing hardware powers and connects the blockchain.
  5. It’s both a very volatile, decentralized currency and a storage of value with no central authority calling the shots.

How to purchase Bitcoin

  1. Sign up for Coinbase, which is by far one of the most trusted and reputable exchanges.
  2. In the US, you will need to verify your identity to be accepted to most legitimate exchanges. Once your ID is approved, you can then purchase Bitcoin or a small fraction of a Bitcoin. You can spend as little as $10. With such a volatile new currency, it’s important to only spend as much as you’re comfortable with losing.

What is the blockchain?

CryptoKitties illustrates key points about the blockchain
CryptoKitties is one of the first games built on the blockchain.

The blockchain is the underlying technology that makes Bitcoin work. Think of it as the App Store, with Bitcoin an app built on top of the blockchain. There are many other blockchains and cryptocurrencies. Ethereum, co-created by Vitalik Buterin, is one of the major competitors in the space and uses its own currency, called Ether.

Just like you can build any app and launch it in the App Store, you can build apps, commonly referred to as Dapps (decentralized apps), on the blockchain. Companies choose to build on the blockchain because it allows for full transparency—anyone can view each block on the chain—and accountability, meaning there can’t be any gaps in the chain, as each chain builds off of the next.

One silly but salient Dapp is CryptoKitties, a game where you can spend Ether to raise your own kittens. Companies like Maersk and IBM are working together to use the blockchain for other uses cases, like making global shipping industry more efficient.

Three opportunities for entrepreneurs

  1. Be active, any time. Now that you have your Bitcoin, you’re now a part of a global economy that is active 24/7, not bankers’ hours. You can participate in ICOs (Initial Coin Offerings, explained below), join other exchanges, and trade with other alt-coins. You can even make real-world purchases, like buy furniture from overstock.com. This is where you begin to see the true utility and revolution of cryptocurrencies.
  2. Raise capital. As an entrepreneur, you can launch your own coin and raise money from the public via an ICO instead of the typical seed or angel round. Keep in mind there will be heavy regulations around ICOs. Companies like the messaging app Telegram are raising well over $1 billion in their ICO.
  3. Help bring others on to the blockchain. You can also engage with the blockchain as an entrepreneur by consulting or development services to bring companies, cities, and even your own company on to the blockchain, like ConsenSys did. ConsenSys and IBM are working together to bring the city of Dubai on to the blockchain. Other companies, like Digital Asset Holdings, led by the extraordinary Blythe Masters, are working to bring institutions and exchanges on to their blockchain technology.

Three dangers of the blockchain

Almost anything could be built on top of or migrated to the blockchain—but that doesn’t mean it should. With Bitcoin and blockchain come tremendous upside and risks. Here are a few:

  1. Regulation. Governments around the world are cracking down on cryptocurrencies and ICOs, so be sure to read up on your local laws.
  2. Vaporware and Ponzi schemes. The majority of ICOs are companies that have no real technology, team, or product. Facebook recently banned ads for cryptocurrency and ICOs out of concern for “deceptive promotional practices.” They are designed to take your money if you don’t do your research.
  3. Scale. Dapps are still struggling with scale as small but popular ones like CryptoKitties are slowing down transaction times on the Ethereum blockchain. Imagine what would happen if purchasing came to a standstill because one app slowed everything down.

All hype aside, Bitcoin and the blockchain do have opportunities for entrepreneurs savvy enough to seize them. See where it might take you and your business.

 

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From Shanghai to Nashville, the Year of the Dog is already in full effect at the pup-ready workspaces of WeWork. On Instagram, #dogsofwework has nearly 5,000 posts, and when WeWork brought its dog-friendly workspaces to Japan—a market with more pets than children—it made headline news in Bloomberg. (Thinking about starting dog-friendly policies in your spot? Here’s a ruff guide for that.)

Life’s a gas

Max is a dog of many talents
Katy Conrad and Max in New York City

Katy Conrad + Max

Location: WeWork HQ, New York City

Company: WeWork

What’s the best tip for bringing your dog to work? The best way to make sure your dog is comfortable at the office is to bring lots of treats, including treats to share. Just like us humans need a snack after a long day at the office, having a bag of treats helps make sure Max and his office puppy pals are all enjoying themselves, and able to get through the workday, too. A bunch of snuggles doesn’t hurt, either.

What’s your dog’s superpower? Besides being cute, his ability to end any meeting with his gas.

The office flirt

Fiona Webborn's pug, Nugget
Fiona Webborn’s dog Nugget in London

Fiona Webborn + Nug the Pug

Location: WeWork Spitalfields, London

Company: The Cotton Story

Why do you bring your canine friend to work?

He’s so cute, why wouldn’t I want to spend all day with him? He’s been coming in since he was 10 weeks old and is now really confident and friendly around all sort of people and dogs of all sizes.

What’s important to know before bringing a dog to work?

That everyone will forget you exist and forget your name because they now see you as “Nugget’s mum” or “the girl with the tiny pug.”

“Everyone will forget you exist and forget your name because they now see you as ‘Nugget’s mum.’”

Your dog as an emoji: 😘 Because he’s such a flirt with all the other dogs and members!

What’s your dog’s superpower?

Being able to finish his lunch in under 10 seconds flat.

 

Will sprint for belly rubs

Teddy uses constant reinforcement with his dog Scout
Teddy Connell and Scout in Atlanta

Teddy Connell + Scout

Location: WeWork Tower Place, Atlanta

Company: WeWork

What’s behind her name? Scout is a 6-year-old Blue-Heeler mix from Aberdeen, Mississippi. She’s named after Scout Finch [from To Kill A Mockingbird] and has become a part of the WeWork Tower Place community team.

What’s the best tip for bringing your dog to work? Pleasant interpersonal relationships seem to be the most reinforcing stimulus for a dog. After all, they are pack animals with complex social structures that eventually led to them synchronizing with human society. Always be watching for desirable behavior to positively reinforce your pup with, because they’ll always be watching you.

What’s your dog’s superpower? Asking for what she wants. She has been known to sprint towards members only to then slide on her side to stop perfectly in position for a belly rub.

 

Grumpy but loveable

Herby came from a shelter and is sometimes grumpy, but still loveable
Isabel Borst and Herby in Berlin (Photo by Milon Quayim)

Isabel Borst + Herby

Location: WeWork Hackescher Markt, Berlin

Company: WeWork

What’s the best tip for bringing your dog to work? Willingness to adapt is very important. The members love him, and he loves the attention he gets from them. There were moments, though, that I noticed he was getting quite stressed. I bring him to the office between two or three times per week, and I avoid bringing him if I know it will be a very busy day.

The fun part is that the members have also adapted to him. They know Herby doesn’t like hugs and clapping and that they shouldn’t feed him because he’s trying to lose some weight. At the end, the most important part is to respect his limits and make sure he is not disturbing anyone.

Your dog as an emoji: 😒 He’s both a grumpy man and a good pal.

What’s your dog’s superpower? Herby has the power of finding food in every bush. Normally he finds sandwiches, but last weekend he found a whole pizza.

 

Pastry bandit

Leah Gwin, a member from Inflammo, and her dog Harper
Leah Gwin and Harper in Nashville

Leah Gwin + Harper

Location: WeWork 901 Woodland, Nashville, Tennessee

Company: Inflammo

Why do you bring your dog to work? Instead of sitting at home bored all day, she’s able to come hang out with me, meet other dogs, and get loved on by WeWork members. I also—selfishly—love having her around because her bright, spunky spirit keeps me feeling positive, and she always finds things to do that make me laugh throughout the day.

What’s the best tip for adjusting to the office environment? Exercise. Exercise. Exercise. I have found this is the key to a well-behaved dog at work. Harper is a 1-year-old puppy, so she has a lot of fun energy. When I take her on runs or to the dog park before work, she cooperates way better. We also love taking walks during lunchtime or throwing the ball at the park nearby.

If your dog were an emoji, which would he/she be? 💃  Harper is always the life of the party.

What’s your dog’s superpower? Invisibility. She snuck upstairs at a friend’s house a few weeks ago without us seeing and ate 27 pastries.

 

Quiet cuddler

WeWork Weihai Lu is dog friendly
Bonnie Li’s dog Captain in Shanghai

Bonnie Li + Captain

Location: WeWork Weihai Lu, Shanghai

Company: WeWork

Why do you bring your canine friend to work? We have a lot of dogs in our community, so Captain can make friends here. If one day I don’t bring him to work, lots of members ask me, “Where is Captain?”

How do you know if your dog is ready to be a WeWork dog? The dog should be quiet and under your control, and also less than 14 kilograms or 30 pounds.

Your dog as an emoji: 😳

What’s your dog’s superpower? Being friendly and not barking.

 

Vibe manager

Rufino's Monica Limanto brings her dog Yoji Yoshimoto to work with her
Monica Limanto’s dog Yoji Yoshimoto in Sydney

Monica Limanto + Yoji Yoshimoto

Location: WeWork Pyrmont, Sydney

Company: Rufino

Why do you bring your canine friend to work? It makes the office a happier place. Dogs create instant good vibes.

What’s important to know before bringing a dog to work? Be respectful of the workplace and practice good manners by ensuring your dog is toilet trained, the office door is kept closed, and there is a dog bed, water, snacks, and toys for your pup to keep them occupied and comfortable during the day.

Your dog as an emoji: 💩

What’s your dog’s superpower? Making food disappear

 

 

Dog walker app trainer

WeWork Ipanema member GoDog uses Lexa to train walkers
Julia Aranha’s dog Lexa in Rio de Janeiro

Julia Graça Aranha + Lexa

Location: WeWork Ipanema, Rio de Janeiro

Company: WeWork

Why do you bring your canine friend to work? She makes everyone’s day better. Even though the Ipanema building has only been open for 10 days, Lexa has already become the mascot. We have a dog walking app in our building, GoDog, that uses her every day to train new dog walkers.

What’s important to know before bringing a dog to work? People will “borrow” your dog, so if yours goes missing, it’s probably in someone else’s office.

Must-have toy to keep your dog happy: Toy to chew on.

What’s your dog’s superpower? Help people lose their fear of dogs.

 

WeWork's dog friendly policies have a lot of fans
Nugget and a friend in London

 

 

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How do you set the mood for love? For one Detroit couple, it’s all about ideas, creativity, and entrepreneurship. Fance Logan and Keith Shadwick met last year at the Creator Awards, WeWork’s global competition for innovators. They connected over a love for sharing ideas and starting up new collaborations.

Usually, the Creator Awards’s impact is measured in the $15 million awarded, the 167 winners, or the 170 jobs created. But now they can count one relationship—and one baby on the way.

As Logan, 32, and Shadwick, 27, get ready to welcome a baby boy in March, they continue to follow their passions. For Logan, that’s real estate and fashion events, including the annual runway show, Fashion Massacre, now in its ninth year. Shadwick is developing a new fashion line, Prewave and Co. We caught up with the couple between their startups and side hustles to learn more about how they met and what baby names they’re considering.

Congratulations on the baby! How exactly did you meet at the Detroit Creator Awards?

Logan: At the time, I was just laid off from one of my jobs doing property management. I was downtown, it was a rainy day, and you guys had this glass pitch booth thing [where anyone could come up and pitch an idea for a chance to win money], which was so fascinating to me. The whole setup was something unique. I went in out of curiosity.

The Detroit Creator Awards sets up a pitch booth downtown.

Shadwick: We met at the pitch booth. I saw her walking around while I was pitching my idea. We started asking each other about business and entrepreneurship.

Logan: That’s how me and him started talking to each other, off our ideas. Some of the ideas he had were so amazing. Then we said, “OK, maybe I’ll see you later.” I saw him later that night at the awards ceremony, and we just hit it off. You don’t usually meet people talking about the entrepreneurial spirit. We both had that in common. He was just open forideas and open for creativity.

Shadwick: We ended up hanging out until Wyclef Jean performed, and that sparked something.

Were you hoping to meet anyone?

Logan: It was fascinating how I met Keith. I wasn’t expecting to meet anyone. Keith wasn’t planning to meet anyone, either. He just had a natural curiosity to be part of something. To meet in that element is amazing. It’s out of curiosity, and here I am, eight months pregnant, and we’re soon to be married. It’s a beautiful story.

How did you connect about entrepreneurship?

Shadwick: We started talking about fashion and different things. I was starting my brand, Prewave and Co. I have no design school background. It’s just in my spirit. Fance started talking to me about how to go about branding. She was telling me a certain way to go about it, being really professional about every aspect like consistent artwork, content, and stories behind the fashion.

Logan: We are [also] working on a real estate company focused on promoting homeownership, called Optimistic Realities. Homeownership sometimes seems intimidating to people. We’ve been leasing and are in the process of purchasing a home soon. We’ll buy homes and fix them up and offer programs for people so they could purchase their own home.

How does Detroit influence what you’re doing?

Shadwick: I’m from the westside in Detroit, where there’s violence, but it’s been reported that violence has gone down. This is the time to start doing things. It was a dark time in Detroit, but now there are lots of entrepreneurs, and networking is golden right now. My next collection is called Flourish Detroit.

Do you know what you’ll name the baby?

Logan: Sensei, which means master teacher. We’re putting that into the atmosphere.

How will you teach the entrepreneurial spirit to the next generation?

Logan: Lead by example. That’s the only way to teach someone. When I said me and Keith are going to buy a home soon, we’re doing it to lead by example.

So… would you recommend the Creator Awards as a place to find love?

Shadwick: For sure. It attracts people with a positive light and a mind to create. We all are creators, no matter what we do. Our words create our destiny. To actually create a human from that event is amazing in itself. It’s meant to be.

Photo by Craig Lewis II

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A shaving company geared toward women. A movement to get more black men leading classrooms. A mentor program opening up opportunities in the media industry for people of color. We’re celebrating Black History Month this year by acknowledging influential African-American entrepreneurs in the WeWork community. See someone missing from the list? Tag them with #BlackHistoryMonth and #weworkBHM on social media.

1.  Where Langston Hughes meets Cardi B

Langston League founder Erica Buddington

Erica Buddington, a teacher in New York City, turned Cardi B into a teaching moment, then a teaching moment into a viral video sensation. Buddington rewrote the lyrics to Cardi B’s summer hit “Bodak Yellow” to teach geography after she heard her sixth graders singing the song. Now she’s using the publicity she received from the video (including mentions on Huffington Post and Forbes) to take her company ideas for culturally relevant curriculum to the next level with her company, Langston League.

“The kids push me to be creative. They’re my lab,” she says. “I take the kids’ comments every day and rework it. They’re so open when they know you love them.”

How you can support them: Hire them for workshops and curriculum design.

2. The perfect shave—for women

Karen Young founder of shaving company Oui Shave

Karen Young bootstrapped her business from day one. Her line of shaving products, Oui Shave, replaces flimsy plastic razors with a sturdy safety razor that can last a lifetime and reduce razor burn.

“We’re reimagining what the razor would look like if it was made with the best intentions for women,” Young says.

The Brooklyn-based entrepreneur has received nods from Vogue and Refinery 29, and in November, she took home $180,000 at the New York City Creator Awards, which she’ll use to scale her product further.

How you can support them: Buy a razor set.

3. Changing hearts, minds, and teachers

Larry Irvin, founder of Brothers Empowered to Teach, wants more men of color to become teachers. “We are looking to reignite our lost luster for the education profession that was once highly revered,” he says. His organization recruits the next generation of educators by reaching out early in college and providing programs to men looking to change careers.

“Though it is imperative that black boys start to see positive representations of black men in classrooms, it is equally important that kids of all races and ethnicities see that black men can and do teach,” Irvin says.

How you can support them: Donate.

4. Computer skills for all

Creator Awards Global Finalist Byte Back

Byte Back completely changes the lives of underserved Washington, DC residents by providing computer training and career preparation. “On average, our students are making $20,000 more per year than when they came to Byte Back,” says Executive Director Elizabeth Lindsey. “Their lives are changed profoundly.”

Lindsey represented Byte Back at the DC Creator Awards in 2017 and the Global Finals in 2018, winning $360,000 in funding at each event. For the Global Finals, Lindsey also welcomed Byte Back student Lisa R. Brown to the stage at Madison Square Garden. Brown had been juggling multiple jobs before starting at Byte Back, when she came to a  realization. “Six jobs would never equal one good career,” Brown says.

How you can support them: Donate.

5. The new media moguls

Co-founder of Marcus Graham ProjectLincoln Stephens was working in advertising and kept finding himself as the only African-American male in the company. He wanted to change that. Over the past 10 years, the Dallas nonprofit he started, The Marcus Graham Project, has worked to provide learning opportunities for minorities looking to break into the media industry, a field where “people of color are grossly underrepresented,” Stephens says.

“We work with hundreds of young leaders to help shape their career and advocate for the awareness of career opportunities in our field,” Stephens says.

How you can support them: Donate.

 

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