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.

Coworking Community Through Food!

Let your appetite make friends for you!

As I have come to discover at previous jobs, coffee,breaks,lunch breaks, and office meetings are synonymous with socialization. In the past this is how I’ve learned to create friendships with my coworkers. We could gripe about the last memo,or find out that we both enjoy kayaking on the weekends. Either way it’s been in these moments that I’ve learned that these are the opportunities that allow us as coworkers to get to know each other.

Now that I am actually a part of a coworking office space , I have discovered, and as I’ve read on several forums about coworking, that putting people together in an open space close together doesn’t necessarily make socialization as easy as one would think. I consider myself a social person but put me in a room with 15 or more strangers, you can find me with sweaty palms in the corner of the room,trying to figure out what to say. It’s creating and finding the right setting to put everyone at ease, that helps facilitate connections and bonds. At our office in particular I have discovered that the break room or “Cafe Disco” as we call it, has been that setting. From the first day I arrived, I was passed a menu and asked if I was in on “Fiesta Friday”, I love fiestas, and figured it would be a great intro to the group. Needless to say , it worked! We ordered and I was in my first group lunch with my new coworkers. It was great, a little awkward, but still a really cool way to get to know the people I was going to be seeing day in and day out. We are actually all employed under the same company so , we needed to find a way to include all the members of our workspace to our festive lunch breaks. Part of the difficulty in getting other companies to join us was the approach. We’re based in Downtown Miami, typically more corporate and stuffy than the rest of Miami. While the company was created by a freelance developer, we house an array of different companies, from interior designers to financial brokers, real estate agents to an Eco-friendly waste bag company. We couldn’t necessarily say we house simply one type of company. We had to find a way to grab the financial brokers, and agents attention (they’re typically the most serious out of all the members here).

So getting together with some of my the coworkers within my company we figured, “Fiesta Friday” was themed ,yeah there was only six of us but the homemade virgin margaritas, gwak’, and mariachi music we brought, really made it a fiesta. We figured if we applied a fun theme to most luncheons , it would also serve as a networking opportunity, and if we emailed all the companies within our space everyone would be aware, it could really entice all of our members . We officially had Caribbean Potluck Friday in the works! All day there was chatter about ox-tail, and coconut rice. For those who forgot to bring some traditional Caribbean dishes we told them don’t worry there’s plenty of food , just show up and embrace the Caribbean vibes! Our CEO got into it, he dressed his pup in a Rastafarian sweater, and blasted Bob Marley from the break room speakers, our idea was a success.

Here the Miami business style is all about connections, but it was always so serious,pretentious, and superficial. That day, we were able to actually create genuine connections between companies whose business and business concepts would have never lead them to one another. We found a way to appeal to all of our workspace coworkers .

Now, no one orders lunch without considering other coworking pals, if someone forgets to bring lunch and doesn’t want to order we share. We’ve just got a thing going, it’s our niche and it works for us. The old sharing is caring philosophy really works. As I read in other posts, people sitting close in an open space doesn’t just magically create a friendships or connections. You have to find something that works for all of your coworkers. If its not lunch maybe a jelly, whatever it is that grabs all your members’ attention, and can make them feel comfortable enough to join in the current social gathering.

3 Things You Need To Cowork Successfully

You might find it hard to believe that groups of people sitting together in the same room can really be productive. While it’s true that coworkers often have super-human talents, they also have some tricks up their sleeves.

Those new to coworking are often amazed that groups of people sitting together in the same room can really be productive. While it’s true that coworkers often have super-human talents, they also have some tricks up their sleeves.


If you’re a freelancer that’s been using the local coffee shop as your office, you already know the power of a set of earbuds. This amazing device plugs into your computer in a matter of seconds, delivering the sweet sounds of your favorite musical artists. Or newsprogram. Or motivational speaker. Most importantly, it will drown out the chatter of those with a lighter workload on any particular day.

A To-Do List

Nothing helps put your mind on the fast-track to success like a prioritized list of tasks. Some days at Cohere, we’ll designate a white board as a “public to-do list,” so that the entire community can see what the other members are working on. Who knows? Someone might have a tip or suggestion about how to tackle that bothersome project.

An Open Mind

If you’re thinking about coming down for your first day of coworking, it’s important to keep an open mind. Those that have recently transferred into the freelance life might not expect people to laugh and converse at their workspace, or to have someone offer to help with a professional problem- but these things happen all the time during coworking. Be flexible, realize that successful days come in all shapes and sizes, and be ready to soak up all the community has to offer you.

Cohere is a membership-based collaborative workspace & coworking community for freelancers, entrepreneurs and remote workers in Fort Collins, Colorado.

Image Credit: Flickr – pastaboy

Wiki Cleanup Effort

We have been making great progress cleaning up the coworking wiki and eradicating spam.  The first step is to start a moderator group that approves/denies people who would like to make edits.  This is a pretty easy step as folks who are not interested in coworking and only want to add links and such generally don’t try very hard.  Will Bennis from Locus Workspace in Prague personally writes everyone who doesn’t include a message in their sign up request and only one in four write him back.  We also keep a close eye on the changes RSS feed and jump in and clean house when someone mucks things up.

The space listing has been cleaned up too and moved into a specific Directory page.  We have also kicked off The Coworking Database Project aimed at creating better searching functionality.  The end result will be a fully decoupled data set with APIs to hook into various interfaces around the net.  For example, imagine the data behind Coworking in Deutschland was centralized and they were able to pull just the German spaces to power their list and map.  If you would like to get involved in that project we have a mailing we use for collaboration and it’s all listed on the project splash page.

If you are interested in helping out with the wiki cleanup work, or would like to make suggestions, just drop me a line at jacob [at] officenomads [dot] com.


On coworking sustainability, urban workstyles and business model.

I’d like to share these views on coworking, with this presentation to be held in Florence, Italy, on Oct. 15th @Festival della Creatività.

Cowo® is the network of 21 spaces (and counting!) that is spreading around in the country since February 2009.

In particular, what I’d like to discuss is the “business sustainable” model we are trying to leverage, keeping break-even point to zero by exploiting existing spaces.

In other words, we are working on the consideration that opening cw spaces inside existing offices and keeping it very basic is a 100% revenue activity.

Thank you in advance for your attention and comments!

[slideshare id=2197582&doc=cowocarraro-091012081736-phpapp02]

Cowork the Vote: Share Your Election-Day Stories

It’s Election Day in these United States, and our more-than-five-dozen coworking spaces know it. Some have helped prepare, hosting and organizing open-source crowdsource election-monitoring tools. Others are hosting results-watching parties, offering incentives to visitors who have voted, or simply opening for business today.

Launchpad Coworkings mashup of the Obama campaign logo with Coworking
Launchpad Coworking's mashup of the Obama campaign logo with Coworking
  • Williamsburg Coworking, in a Jelly session at the “Change You Want to See” gallery in Brooklyn, New York, hosted a coding party last month, as blogged here, to foster development of the “Vote Report” project mashing up Twitter and Google Maps and creating mobile and web applications to support community-based reporting of election-day problems. They invited other Coworking spaces to be part of a nationwide day of coding parties October 24th.

    fervent coders at Williamsburg Coworking
    fervent coders at Williamsburg Coworking
  • BLANKSPACES in Los Angeles, California is not just hosting a party tonight to watch the returns come in (7-9 PM), it is offering “Free WiFi and a seat at the WorkBar” when you show your “I voted” sticker throughout the day.
  • The People’s Republic of Berkeley Coworking hosted a discussion of the myriad local and state ballot propositions on Sunday.
  • CubeSpace in Portland, Oregon is hosting regular “knitting night” as well as the Ruby Brigade this evening; either could be related to the election or to revolutions in coding, but the connection isn’t obvious.
  • Houston’s Caroline Collective hosted a book-signing Saturday for “One Nation Under Blog,” looking at the intersection of Web 2.0 and politics. The space was slated to host a viewing party for the final Presidential debate, but foul weather intervened.
  • Florida’s second Coworking community, CollabOrlando opened yesterday, in Orlando, Florida.
  • New Work City, which also just opened yesterday, is planning a results-viewing event, although not necessarily in the space (as of last report).
  • Julie Gomoll at Launchpad Coworking in Austin, Texas, while not yet open, has blogged about the connection between the citizen-driven democracy encapsulated in the Obama/Biden campaign and coworking. (she also invited President Obama to come by the space anytime he likes).
  • Seattleites can visit Office Nomads for an election-night viewing party tonight after hours, and bring a cupcake and candle if they like to celebrate the space’s recent first birthday.

As I help get out the vote around Philadelphia today, I’ll be stopping by Independents’ Hall to see if anything democracyesque is happening there. What’s your space doing (other than giving paid staff time off to vote, as required by law)? Are your members engaged in the political process? Please add your stories in the comments. Democracy Begins at Work.

Coworking call for help: Need your programming support on the 24th!

In the past week, I have been working with a group of highly motivated programmers and designers and activists that are looking to solve some of the connecting issues that surround Election Day – to ensure that the Democratic Process is not “overturned”.  But, to make this happen – we need some programming help.  And for that, we have an announcement.

Join web developers, designers, and activists this Friday, October 24th for a nationwide day-long Jam Session to build out a groundbreaking new project called Twitter Vote Report. Inspired by a blog post by techPresident writers Allison Fine and Nancy Scola, volunteers across the country are moving quickly to build a decentralized election monitoring system that will allow voters to use text messages to report incidents of voter suppression, long lines, broken machines, and other disruptions on election day. The Twitter Vote Report site will aggregate the reporting data, represent it in real-time on a dynamic web map, and notify voters, election monitoring groups, and the media, facilitating rapid response by poll workers and activists.


We’re partnering with the Election Protection Coalition, Rock the Vote, League of Young Voters, NPR, and a host of other groups to make this happen. You can help!  Here’s how: 1. Host or attend a jam session on Friday – be sure to list it on the VoteReport wiki, or 2. Join us from the comfort of your home via IRC freenode channel #VoteReport, or 3. If you’re in NY, stop by The Change You Want To See Gallery from 11am to 6pm on Friday to work with the lead development team.

More info below!

Vote Report Project Uses Twitter to Monitor US Elections

Programmers, Designers, and Activists Team Up at Nationwide Parties Friday to Build System for Real-Time Reporting of Voter Suppression Incidents

WHAT: Volunteer programmers, designers and activists across the country will coordinate in online chat rooms and at real-world coding parties on Friday to build Twitter Vote Report, a groundbreaking web election monitoring system to fight voter suppression and disruption efforts. Anyone with a Twitter.com account will be able to use their cell phones or computers to send a message notifying voters, election monitors, and the media of problems around the country. A web map will display incidents in real-time. There are three ways to participate on Friday: 1. Join us at the coding jam session headquarters at The Change You Want To See Gallery in Brooklyn, NY, 2. Host your own coding jam session, 3. Join us in IRC freenode channel #VoteReport.

WHEN: Friday, November 24th, 11am – 6pm EST.

WHERE: Headquartered at “Brooklyn Coworking” in The Change You Want To See Gallery, 84 Havemeyer St, Brooklyn NY 11211. Additional locations across the country listed here: http://wiki.votereport.us/Votereport%20Jam%20Session

BACKGROUND INFO: On election day millions of Americans will go to over 200,000 distinct voting locations and using different systems and machinery to vote. Some voters will have a terrific experiences, and others will experience the same problems we have been hearing about for years – long lines, broken machines, inaccurate voting rolls, and some that we haven’t heard about before. Using Twitter.com and 1-866-Our-Vote Hotline, voters will have a new way to share these experiences with one another and ensure that the media and watchdog groups are aware of any problems.

From questions like “where do I vote” or “how do I make sure that my rights are being upheld,” Twitter Voter Report augments these efforts by providing a new way for voters to send text messages (aka tweets) via cellphones or computers which will be aggregated and mapped so that everyone can see the Nation’s voting problems in real-time.

A Nationwide web map will display pins identifying every zip code where Americans are waiting over 30 minutes to vote or indicating those election districts where the voting machines are not working. Collectively we will inform each other when the lines are too long and ensure that media and watchdog groups know when and where problems exist.

For more information:

Twitter Vote Report Wiki – http://wiki.votereport.us

Friday Jam Session info – http://wiki.votereport.us/Votereport%20Jam%20Session

866-OUR-VOTE (The Election Protection Coalition)
Common Cause
Credo Mobile
League of Young Voters
National Public Radio
Network Redux
Not An Alternative
Open Resource Group
Rock the Vote
techPresident/Personal Democracy Forum
Voter Suppression Wiki
Women Donors Network


Cinco de May-aye-aye

So how many dollar store Hot Tamales can YOU fit in your mouth at one time and still breathe? My record is 27. I beat Stan by a mile who wimped out at about 19. He is so not the man. Well, at least when it comes to dollar store tamales. We are actually getting work done today, even though someone kicked in the blender a bit early (what do you expect we’d drink with pile high nachos and quesadillas anyway – coffee?).

Janis was a bit grossed out (by the tamales, not the tequila) but all survived and the new carpet is still intact. The whiteboard is getting worked overtime today as groupies add to the “What We’d Be Doing At Home Right Now If We Weren’t Sipping ‘Tea’ And Hanging Out” list. The more we sip, the better the confessions.

I just met and hopefully did not scare away Henry, a possible newbie who wanted to see the space. I told him that our work-party actually had nothing to do with Cinco de Mayo. We just like Mondays. He kinda sorta half-smiled. I think I need to learn to not dead pan in certain situations, especially those involving business deals.

Our favorite party animal, Cobi the golden, came down from upstairs to hang out and its a good thing too because I think Stan will need an escort home. Oops.

Okay . . . that whole rant above was a bit of a stretch. We didn’t have a bunch of members hanging out, the blender is still clean and, except for a very nice drop-in visit by my pal Bruce, here I sit, waiting to exhale a big sigh of relief for the day when this place is hopping with activity and, alas, a break-even revenue stream. Our day is just around the bend, I know it. But, for an uber impatient gal like myself it will seem like ions. Until then, more tequila for me.

Buenos Tardes Amigos.

Suzitta de Desparado

Adding ACCESSIBILITY to our List of Core Principles

A while back, I listed the core principles of Coworking that Citizen Space ascribes to:

  • Collaboration: One of the great benefits of working in a coworking space is that you will meet all sorts of people with all sorts of knowledge.
  • Openness: We believe in transparency and openness. In a world where people are free, but ideas are not, only a few benefit. When ideas are free, everyone benefits. Therefore, we encourage open spaces and discussions. Sorry, no NDAs allowed.
  • Community: We thrive on connections and mutual support here. It is important that everyone give into as well as benefit from the strong (international) community coworking has become.
  • Sustainability: Shared spaces are also better for the planet, so we like to take that a little further and make certain our space is very environmentally responsible. Check out the Green Business Certification process we are going through and Ivan’s post on the process.

I posted these to the list and people generally agreed that these were important and the defining philosophies behind Coworking as opposed to alternatives like coffee shops and shared offices and rent-a-desks.

Just recently, though, I realized that we missed a BIG one: Accessibility.

There are all sorts of reasons why Accessibility needs to be included in those bullet points:

  1. Coworking spaces are about offering affordable alternatives to the community…giving a financially accessible option to independent workers. If the space isn’t accessible, indie workers continue to work out of their living rooms and coffee shops, which Coworking is supposed to address.
  2. Coworking spaces are about creating diverse and open spaces for everyone irrespective of physical or perceptual abilities….thus being physically accessible is an extremely high priority for Coworking spaces. We are fortunate to have found a wheelchair accessible building for Citizen Space because we’ve had several events here that required wheelchair access we would have otherwise had to turn away. That would have been a shame because they are great events.

Thanks to Anthony Tusler, who is working on Coworking Sonoma, for bringing this important issue to light. We have started a thread on this subject in the Google Group and have set up a wiki page to start collecting resources. We will also be adding Accessibility to our core values.

For those of you who own spaces that are not currently accessible, let’s start chatting about how we can help you make them that way. 🙂

The results of the Coworking Survey

So…wow…we collected over 120 responses (including the first 11 via email that aren’t in the spreadsheet) and I spoke with quite a few people who said they didn’t get the chance to go take the survey, so I think this is representative of the fact that there is quite a bit of interest worldwide in coworking! Yay! Some great information, too…really telling us where we are at and highlighting people’s needs.

Some overview results for you:

Countries of respondents
Country Percent Total
USA 58.18%
Unknown 9%
Canada 6.36%
Ireland 3.64%
UK 3.64%
Italy 2.73%
Australia 1.82%
Croatia 1.82%
Germany 1.82%
New Zealand 1.82%
South Africa 1.82%
Afghanistan 0.91%
Finland 0.91%
France 0.91%
Poland 0.91%
Portugal 0.91%
Singapore 0.91%
Spain 0.91%
Switzerland 0.91%

NOTE: I’m guessing due to the anglo-centric discussions, we are getting much higher response in English speaking countries. This may present an opportunity for those in other countries to champion this movement themselves, by translating important text into their own language?

Stages of people on the list
Stage Percent Total
Are currently looking for a space to work from (wanting to be coworkers) 30.9%
Are interested in setting up a space (potential space owners) 25.5%
Other 18.2%
Are just watching the list (lurkers) 10.9%
Are in the process of setting up a space (future space owners) 10.0%
Are currently working at a coworking space (coworkers) 2.7%
Are currently running a coworking space (space owners) 1.8%

NOTE: The trick, for me, is to turn the 10.9% lurkers (and the 18.2% others) into either future space owners or coworkers and turn those potential space owners into actual space owners so the people looking for spaces have somewhere to work!

The order of importance of features in a space (rating out of 5)
Features Importance (out of 5)
Atmosphere 4.5
Community Feeling 4.3
Collaborative Environment 4.1
Location 4.0
Networking Opportunities 3.9
Excellent Coworkers 3.7
Meeting Spaces 3.7
Quiet Spaces 3.4
Security 3.2
24 hr Access 3.1
Event spaces 2.9
Privacy 2.8
Personalized Space (own desk) 2.6

NOTE: For those setting up a space, think of creating a really great atmosphere as the #1 thing to concentrate on. There is a great article here on seriously great workspaces. So, do you need art? Comfy chairs? Plants? Rugs? Flowers? Games? Yep. In the end, EVERYTHING was pretty important (nothing scored less than 50%), but Atmosphere and Comunity Feeling blew the others away.

So, how can we help the people trying to set up coworking spaces?

Immediate needs expressed
Needs Percent Total
Finding Space 13.6%
Money 10.9%
Partner 7.3%
Space Management Tips

Coworkers 5.5%
Structural Health 4.5%
Networking 3.6%
Other 2.7%

…if we could encourage the lurkers, maybe #3 (Partners) wouldn’t be such a big deal and they could help us find space (#1). Money? That’s a whole other issue. Anyone have good tips? For us, we decided to take fewer risks on the monthly rent (found a fix-me-upper that doesn’t have parking spots so the building rent is lower) to make for a better space and not as much pressure on us if we lose tenants…

What are they getting out of the coworking list?
Benefits Percent Total
Community 16.4%
Advice 14.5%
Support 10.9%
Promotio 8.2%
Mentor 5.5%
Coworker 5.5%
Other 2.7%

…aaaawwwww! Community, advice and support are awesome things to get out of this list and everyone should be proud of themselves for giving so much! 🙂

The rest of the answers are here: http://spreadsheets.google.com/pub?key=pVSaj5ixYmAyYm–dbRhgXw in long form. I’ve removed all of the personal information as far as I know…(like IPs and emails)