Global Coworking Survey

Dear Coworking Community,

My name is Lukas De Pellegrin and I am a student of architecture at the Technical University of Berlin. I am currently working on my diploma thesis, which is focusing mainly on Coworking. Right now I am working together with Carsten Foertsch of deskmag.com, an online magazine about coworking and other new forms of work. We made a global survey about Coworking, which is available here:

http://ww2.unipark.de/uc/coworking/

Please help us by filling out the survey. Replies will be completely anonymous. We don’t at any point ask for your name, or the name of any coworking space. In addition, we are asking you for your help with promoting the survey by spreading this link via twitter, homepages, blogs, mailing lists and other channels. We want the survey to reach as many people as possible in order to have a bigger response from all around the world. A big response means more precise results, too.

We are supported by the following organizations, which will be presenting the evaluated results of the survey in January:
Deskmag – Coworking Magazine
Coworking Spain – Spanish Coworking Network
Coworking Europe / Enterprise Globale – European conference on Coworking 2010
Movebla – Brazilian Coworking Magazine
Cowo – Coworking Network Italy
Hallenprojekt – German Coworking Network
Coworking Labs – Coworking Research USA
Coworking JP – Coworking Blog Japan
moboff – Japanese Coworking Network
Deskwanted – Global Coworking Space Directory
Silicon Sentier – French Coworking Network
Coworking Sweden – Swedish Coworking Blog

Thank you for your support!

3 Ways To Cultivate A More Vibrant Coworking Community

Just like you can’t just toss a sack of seeds into the dirt and expect to get a garden, you can’t sit in your seat with your headphones on, waiting for the community to nurture you.

By Angel Kwiatkowski

People talk a lot about all the ways that coworking can energize your small business or keep you from looking like a hack. Coworking communities are unique collections of people that can provide just enough sun, rain, and fertilizer for your ideas to grow and bloom.

However, just like you can’t just toss a sack of seeds into the dirt and expect to get a garden, you can’t  sit silently in your seat waiting for the community to nurture you.

1. Admit You Need Help

Most coworking communities are collections of pretty talented, organized, and all around amazing people. If you’re new to the group, you might be intimidated by all this excellence, and feel that you have to put on a capable face when inside you’re really losing it. This couldn’t be further from the truth. The wealth of knowledge your community contains is there for you to take advantage of. Be honest about your weaknesses, and make them available when other people are in need.

2. Ask What People Are Working On

When Monday morning dawns, all fresh and full of emails, it can be tempting to get plugged in and working as fast as possible. But there’s nothing nurturing or vibrant about a community where people don’t make eye-contact. Take just a minute or two to say good-morning to the room, ask what your neighbor’s working on, or share the challenges you’re trying to tackle that work week. Not only will this set a positive tone for the rest of your day, you might just uncover a partnership possibility or a new contact that will prove indispensable in the future.

3. Commence Goofing Off

You can’t spell coworking without work, and it’s true, the most important reason that people are attracted to coworking communities is because they can be more productive there. But you don’t always have to be hunched over with your headphones, oblivious to the rest of the room. The next time someone’s piping up about a problem in their business, or a funny YouTube video that’s burning a hole in their inbox, take a second to crack a smile and indulge in some human-to-human conversation. You need a break from that screen anyway 🙂

What are other ways that you can help improve your community and create an environment that encourages success?

Image Credit: Flickr – OakleyOriginals

3 Coworking Questions: Answered

Angel Kwiatkowski, Madame of the Cohere Coworking Community, was recently asked to answer the following questions about coworking…

Original Story: at Rise of the Cubicle Farmer. “Rise of the Cubicle Farmer is a 25 45 60 day Road Trip devoted to capturing the stories of remarkable misfits who have managed to use technology to share their art with the world, and “rise up” from jobs and lives that didn’t fit them.”

What is a coworking space?
A coworking space is a physical location that fosters the following: the productive gathering of motivated people with the intent to create shared value for the benefit of their community.

What are the benefits (of coworking)?
The greatest benefit of coworking is feeling that you have finally found a tribe. It sounds a little hokey but I hear it time and time again from independents coming off the coffee shop circuit. Nearly everyone who has found their way into the Cohere community feels suddenly grounded and energized at once by finding a group of people who CARE about them and their work. Finding and being a part of a tight knit community of people like you makes the freelance way of life so much more bearable. You’ll have a built in group of supportive (real life) people to catch you if you stumble, point out the cliff you’re about to fall off of, or give you a high five when you succeed. You just can’t get that same caliber of community online or with a bunch of strangers at a coffee shop.

What should someone look for (in a space)?
I could bore you with a list of questions about what tangible amenities to ask about but the reality is, it’s more important to test out potential coworking communities for at least a week or more before joining. You’ll inevitably identify with some communities more than others. Don’t get hung up on WHAT the space has. Look more closely at WHO is there and WHY. You’ll be able to discover fairly quickly if it’s a community that resonates with you and your values.

Now it’s your turn. How would you answer the questions?

Two Ways to Be A Coworking Alchemist

Coworking is an alchemy of sorts: it takes independent people (who may work on wildly different projects and often do wildly different things) and puts them together in one physical space.

By Angel Kwiatkowski

space by Werkheim | Flickr
Bjark Ingels is an architect. He’s known for designing buildings that are expansive in scope—and that also solve real-world problems. A Ted.com Q&A with Ingels, “On architectural alchemy,” describes alchemy:

What I like about the term alchemy is that you take traditional ingredients that would separately be just ‘normal this’ and ‘normal that,’ and when you combine them, because of symbiotic relationships, you get much more out of the mix than if you were to leave them separate.

Ingels is looking at alchemy through the lens of architecture, but isn’t this definition of alchemy applicable to coworking? Coworking is an alchemy of sorts: it takes independent people (who may work on wildly different projects and often do wildly different things) and puts them together in one physical space.

So, the “normal freelancer that does this” and the “normal independent business owner who does that” can collaborate to create something so much more than if they had been left separate. And it happens because the two people are working in the same physical space.

So how can you, the coworker, be an alchemist at your coworking space? Here are two simple ways:

1. Work in various spaces: If your computer set-up permits, work in different areas of your coworking space. Try doing your brainstorming in the lounge, or sit at a desk you don’t normally sit at. You may spark a new conversation or idea simply by choosing to work in a different location.

2. Opposites attract: Pick another coworker who does something completely different than you—and ask if they’d share their perspective on a project or challenge you’re working on. Offer to do the same for him/her.

There are likely many other ways to create “alchemy” in your work. What experiences have you had in coworking where two distinct ideas/people came together to create something bigger and better?

Image Credit: Flickr – Werkheim

3 Things Windows 7 Can Teach Us About Coworking

By Angel Kwiatkowski

Microsoft recently released a series of commercials intended to extol the virtues of Windows 7, Windows Live, and “the Cloud.” Although they might not have intended it, I think this commercial includes some interesting commentary on the evolution of work that is rather pertinent to the coworking community. Watch below and I’ll meet you on the flip side.

Ok, it’s decidedly hokey and a wee-bit predictable, but here are three things that this commercial teaches us about today’s workforce, and the utility of coworking.

1. People Have Side Projects

Three of the four characters represented in this commercial are already at work, but you get the feeling that the proposal the investors loved so much has nothing to do with their day jobs. Not all coworkers are freelancers or business owners. Some are just regular people that are passionate about something no one pays them to do. Yet. If you’ve got a real job, but spend time doodling about other things you’d rather be creating or marketing, you might want to indulge in a weekly night (or day) of coworking and see what happens.

2. The New Workforce Is A Mobile Workforce

Did you notice the guy getting assaulted by the inflatable hammer? Yeah, he’s definitely a stay at home Dad working from the kitchen table. In fact, there isn’t even any indication that the four principle members of this “start-up” even live in the same city. But does that stop them from pursuing their dreams? No. The future will not take place in a cubicle, and when it arrives, coworkers will be the most well equipped to handle the motivation and accountability issues of working remotely.

3. Coffee Shops Aren’t Where You Want To Be

Did you see how fast the start-up’s new “CEO” ditched that apron? Coffee shops provided a much needed middle phase for technically-creative types who grew tired of the 9 – 5 way before everyone else. But they’re yesterday’s news. Think about what could have happened if instead of working on his break, this would-be entrepreneur had grown his idea in a nurturing community of other coworkers? My guess is he’d already be on the beach, celebrating his first round of investments.

Story-Telling – An Easy Way to Build Community

Stories can also enhance the connectedness of coworking communities. We all have stories—whether our own personal story or the story of our business. However you’re involved in coworking, tell your story. Here are a few suggestions.

By Angel Kwiatkowski

Storytelling - An Easy Way to Build Coworking 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.

However you’re involved in coworking, tell your story. Here are a few suggestions:

If you’re a coworker:

Do your fellow coworkers know who you are and what your business is? Tell them! Through your own blog (if you have one), while grabbing a cup of coffee, or by showcasing the work you do. The more that coworkers share their stories with each other, the more that the all-important community elements of trust, openness and collaboration will thrive.

If you’re a would-be coworking space catalyst:

So you want to start a coworking community? Don’t seek real estate and fancy desks as your first step. Instead, start telling your story—within the coworking wiki, at local meet-up groups, with past colleagues and with anyone in your area that might be interested in coworking. Tell the story of why you’re starting a coworking space. You’d be surprised how much more effectively you’ll build a coworking community.

If you’re a coworking space owner/curator:

Alright, so you’ve already helped create a coworking community. Are you communicating the story of your coworking space via your website/blog, through email updates or even within the physical coworking space? Can potential coworkers, current members, and other businesses easily find the story of how your coworking space came to be? Try posting a community calendar of events/workshops, or a list of resources for freelancers and small businesses.

Stories help foster the very things that a community requires: trust of fellow members, shared values, an openness to sharing and collaboration, and a sense of stability.

How about you—do you find it difficult to share your story, or do you wave the banner of your story every chance you get (whether you’re a coworker and/or a coworking space owner)? Even better—share your story in the comments below!

Image Credit: GlobalPatriot.com via Creative Commons License

3 Reasons To Give Thanks For Coworking

As you gather with family, relax, and gorge yourself on delicious food this week, consider some of these blessings, and offer thanks to the community that provides them.

By Angel Kwiatkowski

‘Tis the season to be counting your blessings and appreciating the things in life that really matter. As coworkers (or those that are interested in trying it out) there are a lot of things, big and small, that coworking does to enhance our lives and businesses.

As you gather with family, relax, and gorge yourself on delicious food this week, consider some of these blessings, and offer thanks to the community that provides them.

1. A reason to hang up your suit and tie for good.

Being your own boss means that you make the rules, and coworking is definitely a movement that embraces the casual Friday look every day of the week. If you’ve spent all night working on a project, and skipped the shower- we won’t judge. If you’re having one of those days where pajama pants are the preferred fashion, we’ll still love you in the morning.

2. The ability to control your own destiny.

The economy is bad and people are desperate for jobs, but instead of complaining, coworking communities are getting to work. While the life of an independent professional might not always be glamorous, it takes your reliance off of some company and puts it where it belongs, on you. Tough days come and go, but you’ll never have to fear layoffs again.

3. The gift of free coffee.

Those that have spent time on the coffee shop circuit know the frustration of shelling out three bucks (or more) every time they need a WiFi connection and a clean surface. Finding a coworking community to call your own will not only eliminate the need for this extra expense, it will also remind you how much more productive you are when you don’t have to fight shoppers and soccer moms for your workspace.

Are you appreciative of something else that coworking provides, eliminates or facilitates? Give thanks in a comment!

Image Credit: www.makeandtakes.com

Coworking Space Catalysts: Must See Coworking Videos

Many people ask me how I found out about coworking and how I learned how to do it. Here are 3 coworking videos that fired me up and helped me lay the foundation for my coworking community. If you are a space catalyst and feeling confused or overwhelmed

Contributed by Angel Kwiatkowski
Many people ask me how I found out about coworking and how I learned how to do it. Here are 3 coworking videos that fired me up and helped me lay the foundation for my coworking community. If you are a space catalyst and feeling confused or overwhelmed by the many questions you inevitably have, watch these videos. They provide a nice background for the history and evolution of coworking.

Collaborative Consumption and the Coworking Community

“Collaborative consumption” is a shift from individual consumption habits to a focus on trading, sharing & bartering. And it’s happening in coworking.

By Angel Kwiatkowski

“Collaborative consumption” is a new phrase that has entered our business and social lexicon. It signals the way some people are changing their consumption habits away from individual consumption and toward a focus on trading, sharing, bartering and lending within a community. And it’s happening in coworking.

Infographic on CollaborativeConsumption.com
Infographic on CollaborativeConsumption.com

In thinking about how coworking relates to collaborative consumption, it’s no question that coworking fosters the kind of atmosphere that allows for—and encourages—sharing and trading. As described on the about page of this blog:

Beyond just creating better places to work, coworking spaces are built around the idea of community-building and sustainability. Coworking spaces agree to uphold the values set forth by those who developed the concept in the first place: collaboration, community, sustainability, openness, and accessibility.

Collaborative consumption is all about community and sustainability. Coworking is also about community and sustainability.

To make this idea of collaborative consumption a bit more tangible, following are some examples you may have heard of or used:

  • Superfluid – allows people to collaborate by trading favors using “virtual currency”—in essence, bartering
  • Zopa and CommunityLend – social lending
  • Airbnb – a “community marketplace for unique spaces”
  • Freecycle – a place to give and find stuff for free
  • ZipCar – carsharing
  • CouchSurfing – allows travelers to make connections with people, and rooms/couches, in the area they’re visiting
  • Swap – swap books, CDs, movies and video games
  • B-Cycle – bike sharing system
  • Hyperlocavore – a yardsharing community

So, how might collaborative consumption happen in a coworking community?

  • Trading skills/expertise with another member for mutual benefit
    (for example, a graphic designer creates a logo in exchange for a fellow copywriter creating newsletter content)
  • Sharing resources
    (for example, several coworkers may pool their collective buying power to get lower rates at a local gym)
  • Exchanging ideas
    (though collaborative consumption focuses mostly on products and services, brainstorming and ideating are still valuable “commodities”)

A recent post on the Global Coworking Blog highlights some of the ways that sharing and trading happens amongst coworkers.  And another post discusses several of the ways that coworking can save a small business—including bartering and brainstorming.

Of course, this is not to say that sharing and trading are the be-all, end-all to community and economy; we all still have bills to pay and cold hard cash to tender. But this shift in thinking seems like it’s here to stay.

If this topic piques your interest, check out these insightful reads about collaborative consumption:
Infographic – GOOD.is: Sharing is Contagious
Article – Inc.com: Understanding the Consumer of the Future
Book – What’s Mine is Yours: The Rise of Collaborative Consumption
Book – The Mesh: Why the Future of Business Sharing

Have you shared your resources or skills with others at your coworking space? What about the “collaborative consumption” worked? What didn’t work?

Difference Between Coworking and a Virtual Office

Coworking has been gathering momentum in the past year or two. As more and more coworking locations are established, more people learn what it is, there is more exposure, then more people learn about it. That snowball effect is at its very early stages, but, in a year or two the awareness of coworking will increase exponentially.

It’s 2010, Folks

Where does a person work when they are not commuting to a centrally located office that took 2 hours to get to…..in traffic?

Well….they can work at home, at a cafe, at the airport, in a hotel, in an executive office, virtual office, or at a coworking location. Anywhere, anytime, anyone.

The mobile workforce has arrived! Well, it CAN arrive.

For those small businesses, freelancers, independents (and the rare commuter) what are some options for “office space”? Lets take a quick look at the differences between two of the options: a virtual office and coworking.

Really Quickly

A Virtual Office is a traditional office environment; the only difference being a virtual office is shared and limited. But it follows the traditional way of thinking for an “office”: Secretary/Receptionist, phone, desk, file cabinets, 10 x 10 office with a door.

Coworking is a new way to work in a shared community. Work in an open space, use private rooms for meetings or phone calls, use your own cell phone, and do your own work…all of it. In most cases your entire work life is your laptop or other mobile device.

Please keep this in mind as you read the following. This just a guideline, places vary in what they offer, so the appropriate changes may be to be taken into account:

Receptionist:

  • Virtual Office: yes
  • Coworking: no (who needs their cell phone answered for them?)

Telephone Service:

  • Virtual Office: yes
  • Coworking: probably not (cell phones, Google Voice)

Fax:

  • Virtual Office: yes
  • Coworking: many do, some don’t (old fashioned anyway…get with the future!)

Private Office with a desk:

  • Virtual Office: yes
  • Coworking: some yes, some no

High class fancy digs:

  • Virtual Office: probably (a great place to show off your wealth and status)
  • Coworking: many, but they tend to stress casual-functionality.

Conference Room:

  • Virtual Office: yes (mostly for extra cost)
  • Coworking: most (mostly free with membership)

Access to Office:

  • Virtual Office: limited number of days / month
  • Coworking: unlimited and/or limited membership options per month

Community:

  • Virtual Office: no (close your door and work by yourself)
  • Coworking: yes (collaborate, do things together, birthday parties, help with problems….evening gatherings, meetings, seminars, classes…..!)

Free WiFi:

  • Virtual Office: probably not
  • Coworking: yes (it is ingrained in the coworking culture)

Free Coffee:

  • Virtual Office: probably not
  • Coworking: yes (again this is ingrained in the coworking culture)

Month by Month rentals:

  • Virtual Office: probably not, but, some are moving towards this
  • Coworking: probably yes, but other options available

Monthly Cost Example (valid as of Nov 17, 2010):

Most Office Hours:

Virtual Office in California (from the web site): 40 hours in office, with all the phones, mail, receptionist, etc:

$135 set up, $275 per month (12 months committed), $325 per month (3 months committed)

Nearby Coworking Space: Unlimited time in office (24×7), you answer your own cell phone, printer/scanner, free coffee, free WiFi, free IT support, conference rooms are free, mail:

$189 per month, month by month, no set up fees.

Least Office Hours:

Virtual Office: 10 hours per month in office, $135 set up, $160 per month (12 month commit), $200 per month (3 month commit)

Coworking Space: 16 hours per month in office, $49 per month, no set up fees.

Membership:

  • Virtual Office: no (it’s an office, business, you rent, period)
  • Coworking: yes (it’s a community of like minded people working, collaborating, and having fun, it’s from the heart)

Summary

Some people may need the features offered by a Virtual Office while some may fit better in a Coworking location.

A possible general rule: If you work at a cafe to get out of the house…you will like coworking. If you are a high powered future executive needing to impress…a virtual office is for you!