Collaboration over Competition – A New Way of Building Community

As professionals, we are conditioned to the idea of winning above all else, but a new movement which values collaboration over individual advancement is here to change the way we work (and live). Founder of Co-Sharing space Worksmith, Michael Bascetta shares more.

By Michael Bascetta

When we think about community, most of us conjure up ideas of an idyllic neighbourhood in which we may someday live or one that we were lucky enough to grow up in, where families are part of the fabric of the community and all that surrounds it.

The same can now be said about our professional lives, where we have begun to choose the people we have around us based on our preferences of the work family that we wish to be a part of.

The era of creating two separate beings – workself and homeself – is in the past. The focus has shifted to why we do, rather than what we do. This does not mean finding meaning in the mundane. Above all else, it means shifting our focus from mechanical work to work that we are proud of and believe in. Creating a life that is interlinked between work and home is the key to expelling the myth of work/life balance. Finding balance is finding happiness in all that we do, rather than putting arbitrary fences between the segments of our lives.

Creating a community in which everyone can thrive ensures members of the group understand that collaboration over competition is at the core of any professional community. From an early age we have been conditioned to the idea of winning above all else, and collaborating with someone who, on paper, is your competitor, may be hard for some.

Shifting our mindset away from this and understanding that “a rising tide lifts all boats”, we can begin to create equal value in collaborations that strengthen a group of people, not just the individual.

Collaboration has been steadily increasing in the food and beverage industry over the past five years, so much so that often it has become a word used merely as a promotional tool, rather than a celebration of shared knowledge and understanding.

Gone are the days of the closed kitchen door. Chefs are sharing recipes and collaborating with one another. Restaurants are moving continents to cook with their counterparts. Producers of spirits, beer and wine are sharing their ideas and skills through internships and peer co-operation.

World dominant brands are thinking outside their usual sphere to align themselves with like-minded companies that can find equal value in a collaboration. This is great news for the food and beverage industry, to which many brands are gravitating by creating links with high-quality products that their target audience can relate to. This is evident in the latest collaboration with Mercedes-Benz and ST ALI coffee in Melbourne, with the creation of Australia’s first Mercedes me Store. The space is an intersection of food, design, art and culture in Melbourne, with the Mercedes brand taking a back seat to showcase the creativity of emerging talent in Melbourne and beyond.

The future of food and beverage companies may well be measured by the strength of our collaborations and the community around us. Having our vulnerabilities on show can ultimately strengthen our relationships and our businesses, for the community that we choose to be in can help pick us up when we are down and keep us in check when we stray from our path.

Our vision at Worksmith is to create an environment where start-up food and beverage companies (and those companies who intersect our industry) are able to thrive with the use of shared resources, access to industry-focussed events and the ability to collaborate with one another on projects.

In early 2018 we set out to achieve this through one co-working space on Smith Street in Collingwood. Just over a year later we are about to launch our second space in the Melbourne CBD.

The ultimate success of our model relies on the community that we build around us, rather than short-term financial goals. Reflecting on this as the measurement of success not only validates our vision but also creates a more sustainable business model for the community at large.

Applications for Worksmith ELLA are now open. Visit for more information.

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