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Co-working in Saskatchewan

Last year Western Economic Diversification (WD) launched the WD Employee Innovation Fund (EIF). This fund set aside $75,000 to foster and develop a culture of innovation, experimentation and risk-taking within WD

The WD co-working pilot project was one of the projects supported under the EIF. Two employees at WD are co-working – sharing workspace with stakeholders in the community - one day a week as part of this experiment. One employee is co-working at Innovation Place with Innovation Saskatchewan, a central agency of the Government of Saskatchewan. Another is co-working at The Two Twenty, a co-working location in Saskatoon’s Riversdale district, which is home to small businesses, entrepreneurs, freelancers, and a collaborative community.

Public servants co-working is a win-win for both the government and Canadians. There are 1.74 million people co-working today, and the number of co-workers is expected to rise by over 24% annually until 2022. Many of co-working’s benefits are relevant to the public service.

By making ourselves available, outside the confines of our often-intimidating buildings, we become more transparent and approachable. This has resulted in many conversations with a broad range of people from start-up companies to community non-profits. We have learned from one another. Employees gain a much better understanding of the innovation landscape, while stakeholders learn more about WD’s innovation programs. This has resulted in pathfinding, new projects in development and a greater support of WD’s objectives.

The public service can learn a lot from co-working. By getting out of our office cubicles, engaging with people doing different work from ourselves – we can spawn innovation in both the community and the public sector.

While sitting across the co-working table people are often confused when they learn I work for the Federal Government. Recently, one person asked, “aren’t you supposed to be in a big stone building?” -  Reynolds Lauer, senior business officer

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