Coworking Turns 6

Traditionally, society forces us to choose between working at home for ourselves or working at an office for a company. If we work at a traditional 9 to 5 company job, we get community and structure, but lose freedom and the ability to control our own lives. If we work for ourselves at home, we gain independence but suffer loneliness and bad habits from not being surrounded by a work community.

This excerpt is from Brad Neuberg’s first writing about coworking on this day in 2005.

Today, coworking in unmistakably a global phenomenon with spaces and communities active and forming in cities and cultures around the world.

Events take place to discuss the present and future state of coworking. The press has a darling.

But most importantly, as Brad seemed to hope for in 2005, coworking is fundamentally changing peoples’ lives by changing not just where they work, but how they work, and who they work next to.

While it’s trendy now, Coworking is so much more than a trend. Today, we celebrate 6 years of working together as a global community of people dedicated to the values of Collaboration, Openness, Community, Accessibility, and Sustainability in their workplaces.

For today, I’d encourage you to remember that coworking isn’t just an idea, or a trend, or even a “kind” of place.

Coworking is what people want for themselves.

I write this post proudly as a member of this community. Thank you for the most exciting ride of my life.

-Alex Hillman, Indy Hall, Coworking in Philadelphia

Coworking: How to Build Community

Please enjoy five of the best blog posts from Cohere on building community around coworking. Learn more about how and where communities form, marketing tips, story telling and how to start a Meetup group for coworking.

Please enjoy five blog posts from Cohere on building community around coworking. Learn more about how and where coworking communities form, marketing tips, story telling and how to start a Meetup group for coworking.

Where and Why do Communities Happen?

So community literally means to give gifts to and among each other. Which in turn means my community is a group of people who welcome and honor my gifts, and from whom I can reasonably expect to receive gifts in return.

Story-Telling–An Easy Way to Build Community

People thrive on stories. Whether fact, fiction or (as is most often the case) a little of both, stories are what bind us together—as friends, families, companies, religious group, political sway or country. Stories can also enhance the connectedness of coworking communities. We all have stories—whether our own personal story or the story of our business.

Why Being Social Is More Important Than Social Media

I’m often asked about the best way to market a coworking space, or how to attract new members to the community. Many space catalysts assume that because coworking is a natural fit for digital professionals, social media must be the best way to generate interest in their target audience.
No brainer-right? Find computer people on the computer. I decided to do the math and see if the Cohere community supported this obvious theory. To my shock and awe, it didn’t.

Story-Telling–An Easy Way to Build Community

People thrive on stories. Whether fact, fiction or (as is most often the case) a little of both, stories are what bind us together—as friends, families, companies, religious group, political sway or country. Stories can also enhance the connectedness of coworking communities. We all have stories—whether our own personal story or the story of our business.

How to Create a Local Meetup Group

Coworking naturally creates community—it’s the beauty of freelancers and independents working together in a shared office space. No doubt you’ve benefited from this coworking community goodness. But have you ever thought about having a group that is more focused on a niche you’re interested in? Here are 8 easy steps for how to create a local meet-up group for other freelancers and small business owners.

Why Freelance Jobs Are More Secure Than Office Jobs

Three reasons why a room-full of independent professionals bring more stability to the local economy than a moderately-sized corporation.

Lots of people think that freelancing is something you do when you can’t find a real job. Freelancers know, however, that there’s nothing more real than being the CEO, COO, and CFO of a small business all at once.

Some people say they could never live without the security of a traditional job. And I say, what’s so secure about it? What’s so great about living with the fear that an HR person you’ve never met will decide your job’s not necessary any more? Or knowing that an executive in Europe could decide that the U.S. branch isn’t as profitable as it should be, and close it down tomorrow?

Here are three reasons why a room-full of independent professionals bring more stability to the local economy than a moderately-sized corporation.

Freelancers Are Dynamic

Saying that small businesses are more nimble than traditional companies is an understatement. In the time it takes three corporate committees to decide to begin to investigate a creative opportunity, the freelancer will decide, bring in other freelancers to collaborate, and take action to make it a reality. Freelancers are used to rolling with the punches. When business as usual stops working, they can try something completely new tomorrow, not next year.

Freelancers Have Low Overhead

Running a brick and mortar business is expensive. There are utility bills to pay, equipment to buy, and insurance to keep current. If profit margins fall low enough, these costly necessities can drive a company out of business in a matter of weeks. Freelancers on the other hand, have almost no overhead (especially if they cowork). Also, they can eat ramen noodles when the going gets tough.

Freelancers Can Do More Than One Thing At Once

Which has a better chance of surviving a down economy: a large company that does or makes one thing, or a sole proprieter that knows how to do five things? Freelancers are in it for themselves, which means they stay educated, are constantly expanding their networks, and work hard to acquire more skills that will make them competitive in their field. The days of depending on one skill or product to attract revenue are over. Companies are struggling to diversify, while the freelancer depends on diversity to stay in business.

Because of the reasons above (and many more) freelancers are both happy and stable in their work. They can’t get fired, or downsized or restructured. They don’t depend on the wisdom of invisible executives for their livelihood. They don’t worry about losing a big client because they know how find another one.

While the rest of the world gets into the unemployment line, freelancers keep paying the mortgage, shopping in local stores, feeding their kids, and paying taxes. They continue to contribute through both the bad times and the good, unlike a big company, which will probably move its business to Oklahoma City when the money runs out.

Why Are You Glad To Be  A Freelancer? Give thanks in a comment!

Image Credit: Flickr – Patrick Denker

Coworking: An Easy Way to Green Your Business

These days, almost everyone is looking for ways to be green, but just like Kermit said, it’s not always easy.
Whether you’re worried about the planet or not, there are significant benefits for those that live a more eco-friendly life, like saving money, wasting less, and presenting a more responsible image to earth-conscious clients.

These days, almost everyone is looking for ways to be green, but just like Kermit said, it’s not always easy.
Whether you’re worried about the planet or not, there are significant benefits for those that live a more eco-friendly life, like saving money, wasting less, and presenting a more responsible image to earth-conscious clients.
By working for yourself, instead of a bloated company full of time and resource-wasting bureaucracy, you’re already pretty lean and mean. But coworking instead of working from home could help you reduce your impact even further. Here’s how:

Ditch The Commute (or at least reduce it)
Most coworking spaces are centrally located in downtown areas or business districts so that they’re convenient to the freelancers that live and play nearby. This means a cross-town commute in morning gridlock becomes a leisurely bike ride or walk. Most car trips occur only 2 miles from the driver’s point of origin. Unfortunately, short trips are up to three times more polluting per mile than long trips. When bicycling or walking is substituted for short auto trips, 3.6 pounds of pollutants per mile are not emitted into the atmosphere.

Consolidate Coffee Pots (and everything else)
Space owners often brag that while city governments bend over backwards to bring a single 200 person company into town, freelancers represent 200 single person companies, some of which grow up to be much bigger. The only problem is that 200 people working at home equals 200 coffee pots, lights, air conditioners, televisions, radios, and printers gobbling down costly energy all day long. When you join a coworking space, this energy consumption is drastically consolidated. Everyone shares a coffee pot, a printer, and only one room has to be heated or cooled instead of 30 entire houses. By coworking, you save money and the environment gets a little break.

Reducing, Reusing and Recycling Made Easy
If you haven’t figured it out by now, coworkers are a pretty creative bunch. Most coworking space owners don’t have lots of capital to throw around, so sustainability and conservation are built into the business plan. At Cohere, recycling is easy because there are handy bins throughout the space. We’ve even got a handy little composting bin in the kitchen ready to repurpose those coffee grounds and apple cores into garden fodder. We offer cloth napkins so you can avoid wasteful paper towels and make use of our amazing skylight to utilize passive solar lighting for 8 months out of the year.
Other coworking spaces take even more drastic steps to clean up their carbon footprint, like purchasing green energy, offering carpools or lender bikes, participating as a drop station for CSAs, and utilizing CFLs and LEDs.

In what other ways has coworking helped you save money, reduce waste or otherwise keep it green? Share your experiences in a comment!

Image Credit: Flickr – Aunt Owwee

Five Reasons Lonely Freelancers Should Try Coworking

For every freelancer that sings the praises of coworking, there are five that are wondering whether they should give it a try. Here’s a short list you can use to convince them!

No Danger of Men Working

For every freelancer that sings the praises of coworking, there are five that are wondering whether they should give it a try. Here’s a short list you can use to convince them!

1. Pants are required. We know, we know, the greatest thing about working for yourself is that pants are optional. Your blog post or design project can’t tell whether you’re still wearing pajamas at 2 pm, so why bother? If it’s been a while since you’ve held yourself to a dress code stricter than stretchy pants and your favorite hoodie, you may have forgotten how motivating it can be to don a fresh pair of pants. There’s just something about getting dressed that says, “Ok, I’m ready; bring on the day!” Coworkers know that sometimes, putting on your pants and being in public is the biggest victory of the day. So toss those sweats, zip that fly, and come on down. We’ve got your victory coffee waiting.

2. You’re pretty interesting. There are some things about working from your home office or even the coffee shop that can’t be beat: it’s your home turf, you’re comfortable, and most importantly, it’s fairly free from distraction. Unfortunately, free from distraction often means free from interaction, which can be a slippery slope for freelancers that usually prefer a screen to a face anyway. One of the best parts of the coworking community is cameraderie. We think you’re pretty interesting. We want to know what you’re working on. We’ll talk about coding, or blogging, or marketing all day long. Try us.

3. The coffee is free. And tea. And sometimes snacks. ‘Nuff said?

4. It gives you an excuse to clean your laptop. Take a glance at your keyboard. If you can identify the remnants of more than one meal from the past three days…gross. Bust out your duster, your electronic-safe wipes, or hell, just turn the thing over and shake. You might be surprised at how much easier it is to work when you’re not typing around a crumb buffet.

5. It’s fun! I know, I know…you’re all about the productivity and working in a crowded room of freelancers doesn’t sound like the best way to break through your writer’s block or finally finish that proposal that’s been keeping you up at night. Or, does it? Who knows, maybe that problem that’s been bugging you is something another coworker solved last week. Or maybe there’s another freelancer here who’s got the perfect suggestion for your stalled project? Or, who knows, maybe just getting out of the house, and having a conversation with some like-minded people is just what you needed to breath new life into your career.

It can’t hurt to give it a try, right? If you’re ready search HERE for a space near you.

Image Credit: Flickr – ben sutherland

Reposted from the Cohere Community Blog

Coworking Events and Building Community

By Jessica Hulse, Space Owner, Longmont, Colorado

“Build it and they will come” was recently quoted as a not awesome place to be, and I waved to the computer. “Yeah, I know, I thought.” Network, a coworking spot, opened on Feb. 14th in a family town called Longmont, CO. I myself have a network of peeps, but most of them are stay at home moms and have no need for a coworking spot. I knew this was what I wanted to do though, so I pushed on with no starting place to build a community as I don’t have a profession to build around. Luckily I have a favorable lease, a willing family that helped with the build out, and supportive friends who like to join me to help check Internet connections and to see if the fridge really is keeping the beer cold.

Opening day happened, and I waited for them to come. I sat by myself updating my website. So, I’m no longer waiting, I’m just building.

A documentary screening, blog class, tech group, motherhood workshop, business talk by a local author, photography class and bi-monthly jellies are all events Network has or is hosting within the first 3 months of opening, and all but two are free of charge. I’m planning events that inspire me, or classes that are things that I would want to learn about anyways. I love to meet the different people in all the different professions and it’s what keeps me excited to keep planning, building, and growing the community.

The documentary screening brought in professions such as doulas, nurses, and a couple film critics as the topic was maternal morbidity in Nigeria. The blogging class brought in newspaper writers, local bloggers, a nurse, local boutique owner, and a computer IT guy. An aerospace engineer stops in on a consistent basis, some programmers, web designers, SEO professionals, and more doulas come by. Each one is curious and supportive, and I’ve yet to have just one contact with an individual.

By hosting these different events, I’m able to expose myself and the space to a variety of different people. Even though coworking doesn’t necessarily resonate with certain industries, it does resonate with different personalities. It has been fun to see who clicks with the coworking concept and who can help spread the word.

At the most recent jelly I had two people come, a local store owner who needs some space to focus on blog posts and events she’s hosting, and a doula who is in the middle of growing an agency. One had come to the documentary screening, and one had a friend who had been there. They met one time and created three projects to collaborate on that will grow each of their businesses. It was inspiring to be part of that excitement, and I look forward to more of those meetings! At the blogging class, the presenter brought along her boyfriend who was just interested in coworking. He had helped a coworking facility get off it’s feet on the East coast and came walking through the doors claiming, “I LOVE COWORKING!” Even though he lives too far away to make use of the space, he has been a supporter through word of mouth and twitter which is huge!

Through hosting events, I’m building. I’m not just open. The people who join in the events get to know one another through twitter streams, they come to jellies, or join other events I’m hosting. They talk about what it would be like to start working from a coworking space. I have a conversation started, and that is an awesome place to be.

I need a community…STAT!

Post Author: Kevin Ross.

I’m stepping out on a limb here and assuming that my job as a freelancer may be fairly unique. By professional definition, I’m a nurse. My role however is somewhat undefined. I’m a consultant, an independent contractor, an entrepreneur, apparently an “expert” to some. Not only do I not have an elevator pitch about what I do for a living (unless I was pitching in the elevator of the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, then I may have enough time), but also I’m often a roaming gnome in my day to day.

 

I’ll save the “what I do” part for another post. For now I’d like to let you know about my involvement with co-working and how it’s helped me as a professional. I typically see patients either in their homes, in the clinical setting, or various locations in the community. I also teach and consult on various projects that require the input of a medical professional with my particular background and experience. One may ask how in the world does a co-working environment fit into my line of work? Well, as I’ve stated, I don’t typically see my patients at my location (wherever that may be at the time) and for contractual reasons (in rare cases) I’m often making off site visits to a cryptic location that can only be found by cracking the code with the help of a secret decoder ring.

 

I have a home office that is “tricked out” with the latest and greatest technology, it’s comfortable, and on many workdays can be a great commute—barring that I don’t trip over a Lightsaber or Buzz and Woody coming down the stairs. Of course as many have stated, it is still a community of one and there are those other distractions that consist of a leaky toilet that needs attention or weeds that require precise extraction.

 

I also have quite a few interactions with my patients, other healthcare professionals, and various acquaintances that are as they say, “anchored to their desks.” Apparently I’m a lucky duck because I get to come and go to these facilities/offices as I please, but I often feel like a lonely duck. I’m already providing a service that is unique, and aside from these above interactions, I’m starved for community.

 

There are many times when I’m out and about that I just need to sit down and crank out some paperwork. I often need to do medical research, mock up lectures for a class I’m teaching, or develop patient education documents. For the readers who may want to ask about confidentiality, my response is that I take the HIPAA laws seriously and make every effort to ensure that my patients’ information is protected. I don’t leave paperwork lying around, my phone calls are carried out in private (I tend to use patient initials and a lot of medical jargon), and if you try to touch my phone or laptop if I step away for a moment then you’ll end up with a raging case of cooties—I kid! All jokes aside, my patients’ information is probably safer than in many hospitals or medical offices (the “how and why” can be elaborated in another post).

 

What would a co-working environment that seems to bring together a large community of “creative types” offer a healthcare professional besides a desk and a cup of coffee? As professionals we’re all faced with very similar challenges each day and I’ve actually been able to solve a problem or two by just listening to someone else’s approach in finding a solution with a client or a project. Also, I wasn’t always a nurse and it’s not the only thing I’m interested in. I do enjoy learning more about web design, marketing/branding, social media, photography, accounting, software development, and obviously blogging. Most of these are actually incorporated into my business and I have a hand in implementing each one of them. So, I suppose I’ve never really found a problem with fitting into the culture and I’m truly interested in what you do.

 

Being a part of a community is what I seek, but the challenge for me, and probably any health care consultant/practitioner that provides a service offsite, is that we don’t often find ourselves conveniently located in the same spot as the day before. This is where I find the Co-working Visa Program coming in quite handy to meet the need. These communities are still growing, and as they do it will only make it much easier for someone like myself to be a part of them. I hope to be a part of your community someday and learn about what you do. Also, if I end up at your location, and you end up feeling comfortable enough to show me that dry patch of skin on your leg that’s in the shape of Australia and want to know what to do about it, well that’s okay too.


5 things Boulder Digital Arts learned from our Coworking Open House!

1. Choose your initial coworkers carefully and invite them to be “guests of honor” at the open house.

Think carefully about the type of community you want to build. We wanted a community of digitally creative people, which is exactly what we have now. At the event, designate your new coworkers with special nametags and use the opportunity to introduce them to each other.

2. Solicit the talents of your community.

For example, one of our tenants is a photographer and loves to curate local art shows. He put together a Boulder Digital Arts Midwinter Digital Arts Show and gathered submissions from local artists. Maybe you have a member who loves planning parties or brews beer.

3. Think carefully about the flow of people through the space.

Position food and beverages in a way that encourage people to move through the coworking area and not clump up in any one spot. For instance, place beverages on one side of the room and food on the other.

4. Think about creative ways to handle the management of food, beverages, and clean up.

Have a food and beverage sponsor so you’re not doing everything. Schedule volunteers or family members to help you set up and tear down and then reward them with the leftover food and booze. Also, avoid Costco “Just Dessert” Brownies – they’re delicious, but leave crumbs everywhere!

5. Get a smart, attractive girl to DJ.

Okay, I just had to include this (Boulder Digital Arts’ Operations Manager, Kira, came up with this one, I swear!) But the point is, music livens up any event. So, if one of your coworkers or tenants is a DJ, by all means, let them DJ!

Audrey Klammer

Marketing/Outreach

Boulder Digital Arts

Boulder, Colorado

www.boulderdigitalarts.com

9 Ways to Tell Someone Has Been Coworking

  • They set deadlines around bizarre daily rituals.
  • You’ll often hear things around a coworking space not typical of a normal office such as, “I need to get this done before the next cup of coffee,” or, “I’ve got to get all these e-mails out so that I have time to get food and make it home for Glee.” Without typical time constraints coworkers are able to plan their day around pretty much anything they want, and they take advantage while oddly staying super productive.

  • They’ve already had a warm up before they get to the office and are ready to dive into their work immediately. Whether it be biking to work or trudging through the snow coworkers have their heart pumping when they walk in the door. Without the constraints of having to drive in rush hour, or having a pile of busy work on their desk they start every day with a clean slate and a sharp mind.
  • They’ve conquered social media. Not only is social media a tool that freelancers must use intelligently to promote themselves and their businesses, but they also seem to have an innate ability to not be distracted by their friends on Facebook. Maybe because they have friends all around them, or maybe it’s because they know no ones stopping them from getting on at any point in time; either way coworking helps to harness the good of social media and leave the bad for when they’re home and have had a few glasses of wine.
  • They all of the sudden develop new tastes and interests almost every week. If you’re living with someone who has been coworking and you haven’t been, one thing will become increasingly apparent: They’ve become cooler than you. In the time in between working and discussing projects, coworkers don’t waste time with just any brand of small talk. You will be getting the absolute best from the Web, TV, Netflix, and more just sitting in on a discussion a few minutes. It’s like The Soup but without talk about Kardashian sisters or Ryan Seacrest. Plus anything that is added to a menu anywhere in town has already been tried by one of the members and there’s a guarantee they will have a review.
  • They’ve forgotten what “wasting time” even looked like. People are creatures of habit, and if you give them mindless busy work, that will carry into other things that they do. Coworkers however, are life enthusiasts and make the most out of the time they have outside of working and have eliminated tedious busy work for themselves while they’re at the office. That means when they’re working they are always going 100% just like all the other aspects of their lives.
  • They tend to shout out urgent questions while staring at their computer, expecting someone around them to be knowledgeable. A tragic flaw of coworking. Once you’ve come to expect being able to just ask a question out loud and get a quick and accurate answer from somewhere in the room, you’ll begin to expect that in every room you enter. On the occasion a coworker takes their talents to a coffee shop they may not realize they’d said anything at all until they look up and see everyone staring at them, or hearing people whispering, “what’s up with the girl that keeps shouting out questions about grammar usage?”
  • They’ve become experts at giving their “elevator speech” without sounding like a salesman. Coworkers don’t need to sell themselves with a colorful or elaborate elevator speech. They know exactly what they can do for you and exactly how long it will take them within a few minutes of meeting you and hearing about your business.
  • Their spirits have been mended from being in the mainstream business world, and they tend to smile throughout the day. Coworkers smile before, after and during work. The same way buff body builders flex their core through every exercise, coworkers have “ripped” smiling muscles and rarely go more than about ten minutes without cracking one.
  • They’ve become amateur meteorologists in planning their weekly schedule. Coworkers know what the weather is going to be like the whole week. Tabulating trends and always staying updated on the latest weather news is key to planning their schedule each and every week. If they’re going to get snowed in then they’ll stay home and take phone calls, if it’s just going to be freezing cold, there are not a lot of places much warmer than a full and buzzing coworking space.

By: Cohere Community intern Ryan Hamerstadt
On Twitter @RCHammer303

When it Comes to Coworking, Just Say Yes

As the community manager and Madame of a coworking Space, I’m always surprised to hear the members ask me for something tempered with, “it’s okay if you say NO, I’ll understand.” The funny part is, about 98% of the time, I say YES and this has been true since we started coworking a year ago. So why is everyone assuming they’ll get a NO?

As the community manager and Madame of the Cohere Coworking Space, I’m always surprised to hear the members ask me for something tempered with, “it’s okay if you say NO, I’ll understand.” The funny part is, about 98% of the time, I say YES and this has been true since we started coworking a year ago.

So why is everyone assuming they’ll get a NO?

We’re conditioned to use and hear the word NO. It’s one of the first directive commands our parents used to impart safety info when we got to close to the stove. As kids we were taught to “Just Say No.” We assume we’ll get a NO when we call customer service because companies make it nearly impossible to reach a human. Time management experts have been telling us to say NO in order to find more balance.

In a world of expected NOs, why say YES?

Yes/No isn’t binary. Saying NO is easy. You can do it without thinking, like a reflex, and the discussion can be over (do you want fries with that?). Saying YES is where the magic happens. Saying YES opens a door, saying NO closes one. To say YES, you have to consider what impact your decision will have. Saying YES usually requires something to change; maybe on your part, maybe on mine. In the absence of physical doors at Cohere, stands to reason that I’d default to YES.

Did I make a conscious decision to always say YES? NO. In fact, starting Cohere is what re-wired my brain to start saying YES. The brilliant part of coworking is that is driven by PEOPLE. If there are NO people, there is NO community and there is NO business.

Do your customers a favor. Start saying YES. What will you say YES to today?

Image credit: renaissancechambara