The Coworking Wiki: Building The Movement Together

Post Author: Kevin Skiena.

Imagine what would happen if McDonalds and Burger King shared recipes and business models, or if Comcast and Verizon viewed each other as allies in their efforts to bring cable and high-speed internet to everyone. In a capitalistic society, where competition is branded as the best way to keep prices low and the customer happy, openness and collaboration can work against your business interests. Why give away your advantages?

Enter coworking. The values of coworking are openness, collaboration, accessibility, sustainability, and community. These qualities may seem to fly in the face of capitalism. Why should we share? How can my business thrive if someone else is diluting my presence in the marketplace by offering the same services?

We can easily forget that two companies marketing the same service are, in a sense, marketing for each other. What our community has to offer – the exact reason why collaboration suits us better than competing – is the individuality and uniqueness of the communities we create. Space owners and operators recognize that chief among their goals is to foster feelings of support and camaraderie. They may do this using particular techniques or activities, but even if another owner adopts the same practices, it would be impossible to produce the same results. Coworking works as a business model because of our intense desire to feel part of a community, and no matter how much of our techniques we share, every community will be different. Jacob Sayles, Coworking Wiki Upgrade Project Director and Co-founder of Office Nomads, thinks of new coworking space owners in his area as business partners. “When I hear that a new coworking space is opening in Seattle, I want to meet the people opening it,” he says. “I want to buy them drinks.”

A Platform for Growth and Collaboration

The Coworking Wiki was formed as a way to grow the movement and share our values. It’s a free, community-owned and operated web tool meant to help anyone looking to start, find, and run a coworking space. It offers shared business plans and advice. It has links to well-researched press about the movement. It showcases collaborative efforts between spaces, like the Coworking Visa program, which allows a freelancer or small business entrepreneur the use of an office while traveling in another city. The wiki allows us to aggregate and organize all of these resources in one place while reviewing its content and ensuring its neutrality. Today it is one of the top 3 web search results for “coworking” (behind Wikipedia and It’s highly visible, averaging about 500 hits a day, and it’s often one of the first places people new to coworking will go to learn about the movement. But there’s a problem . . .

Until now, the wiki’s content has been moderated by a small group of dedicated volunteers. The movement has grown exponentially, and the demands of keeping the wiki organized and up-to-date have simply become too much for the same level of commitment. Many links on the wiki are broken or misleading. Section heads are missing content, and contact information is outdated. Many wiki visitors feel overwhelmed or lost. It doesn’t have to be this way.

The Upgrade Project

The wiki has amazing potential to help new space catalysts, owners, and bring new people to the movement, and we want to help it live up to that promise. A small team of Seattle-based coordinators are working on a plan to improve the wiki’s content while creating a framework to keep it organized and maintained long into the future. We’ve identified the wiki’s key stakeholders, and we want to restructure the site using the concerns of these groups as a guide. We are working for discounted rates and volunteering our time in order to make this happen, but we can’t do it alone.

How You Can Help


Are you great an organizing and consolidating information? Maybe you’re more of a people-person. Our volunteer coordinator, Sarah Cox of Cospace, is assembling a list of is coordinating wiki volunteers and would love to hear from you if you have some time to chip in.

Join the Team

Going forward, the wiki will be moderated and organized by small team of coworking space employees. Their work on the project will become part of their regular job functions (no overtime necessary), and we expect wiki obligations to occupy no longer than 5 hours/week. We are looking for at least 3 more team members willing to make a one-year commitment. If you are an employee of a coworking space, or run a coworking space and are willing to dedicate up to 5 hours/week of your paid time to the project, we’d love to talk to you about joining the effort.


Your contributions allow for the recruitment and training of new team members, community outreach efforts, and the development of a map-based, searchable Coworking Directory. Our passionate team is fully committed to seeing this through, and they can’t do it without your financial support. Please think about how you could benefit from the shared resources of an upgraded Coworking Wiki and, if you’re able, consider making a contribution.

Spread the Word, and Give Us Feedback

First and foremost in our minds is that this is a community project. Please subscribe to our blog or follow us on twitter. Track our progress, share this information with other community members, and don’t hesitate to let us know what you think.

Coworking Gifts For Your Smartphone (and You!)

The collective creativeness that is the coworking community has been hard at work creating a few apps that can enrich your experience!

Giant Smart Phone

‘Tis the season to indulge in gadgets, and for those of you that depend on a smartphone to get you through the day, that means treating yourself to an app or two.

How fortunate that the collective creativeness that is the coworking community has already been hard at work creating a few apps that can enrich your experience!

Coworking for iPhone – by @parisoma

Cost: FREE

Want to keep coworking while you’re away from home, but don’t have the time to research available spaces? Now, there’s an app for that.

The “Coworking” app- made for coworkers, by coworkers, in a coworking space- is now available in the iTunes store.

The app is designed to:
1. Be a mobile database of over 400 coworking spaces worldwide
2. Allow people to find coworking spaces in their city or in cities they visit
3. Help coworking spaces find new members

This app was designed by coworkers at pariSoma Innovation Loft in the San Francisco Bay area. If you download this app, the folks at pariSoma would love to hear your feedback! Send suggestions about how to improve the app or ideas about other potentials for it to coworkingapp [at]

Coworking Lite For AndroidCoworking for Android – by App Hoshies

Cost: $1.95 for full version, Lite version is FREE

“Coworking” is a social location-based app that is all about finding and sharing Coworking locations (download here).

This app is designed to:
1. Create new locations
2. Find other coworkers in your area
3. Follow where others are currently working.

The app comes with hundreds of worldwide locations. The Lite version comes with ads but has no limitations.

And if you really want to turn your smartphone into a powerful coworking machine, check out this long list of mobile apps for entrepreneurs!

Image Credit Top: Flickr – @boetter

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… 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:


  • 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)


  • 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


  • 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.


  • 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)


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!

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]

What does coworking do for me. A video interview from Italy.

After a few months of activity @ cowo milano, I finally managed to do something I’ve been trying to do for a long time: a video interview with a coworker, having him say what it’s like.

As I imagined, there’s nothing like the real thing… Davide tells the story in a way that couldn’be done better.

I don’t post the video because it’s in Italian (if you want to see it it’s here) but I do post the English transcription:

Question – Hi Davide! First of all, what’s your job?

Answer – Hi. I design sailing boats, racing ones.

Q. – Great. What’s your organization?

A. – We are a small company with two offices, one here in Milano, since April, and the other one in Amsterdam, where my partner is.

Q. – How does coworking work for you?

A. – It gives me the chance to have a very flexible work situation, fully serviced.
A place where I can work quietly. always connected to the web and also connected to other people.

Q. – In this respect, how did it feel for you to work side by side with professionals with a different background?

A. – Very interesting. Up to now I’ve always worked with other engineers, and it always ended up talking about the same stuff, which can get boring.
In a coworking situation one gets the chance to interact with people totally different. It’s fun to share your office with a novel writer, or an internet pro… different worlds, very interesting.

Q. – Is such a company making your working days more interesting, or would you rather sit in your own, private office?

A. – No, I’m very happy, actually. I think that for a small start-up it’s a good opportunity to have a coworking space, a less flexible situation would not have been good for me.
Coworking gave me the flexibility I need, also the freedom to renew my staying month by month, adapting to my needs, eventually involving other people in the company, in the cowo premises.
Such a flexibility isn’t easy to find, other than coworking.

Q. – As to interaction with your business partner, in Amsterdam?

A. – We work with Skype, always in touch, with earphones, triyng not to disturb other people here.

Q. – We haven’t mentioned your company’s name…

A. – It’s ST Yachts, in the internet: styachtdotcom.

Thanks a lot Davide!

Quick update from Cowo Milano, Italy.

Hi everybody! As summer steps in, coworkers seem to step out, here in Milano…

In fact, even if we are full booked at the moment (5 desks), we haven’t had much attendance in the office these past weeks, and I wonder if the season has something to do with it.

Furthermore, August is a month rather “slow” here in Italy (most companies/offices/stores close at least two weeks), so these days we are checking who’ll be around and who won’t for the rest of the summer.

To our pleasure, we have received a one-day visit from a blog-friend and are expecting someone from the US too (are you anywhere near here, Susan?).

Besides attendance and visits, we have improved the cowo site (blog, that is) with a list of coworking spaces in Europe and the rest of the world – thanks also to the excellent list provided in the cw wiki – along with few more “coworking resources” such as links to cw videos from Youtube and the wiki, cw photos from Flickr, cw blogs from Technorati… we are open to suggestions and of course ready to include your site, if you like. (Just leave a comment or write to me- max(at)

Last but not least, we are doing a networking effort with a linkedin group we called “friends of cowo-coworking” which counts, at the moment, 43 members from many countries.

The feeling we have is that coworking is taking its course, and we try to go along with it – developing it but also understanding it… it’s good to see people settling down in your place and feeling good about it, we consider ourselves lucky to have such little community, what we mean to do right now is to keep providing such a service and aventually find ways of imrpoving it, but without any rush.

I’d like to get into deeper considerations about cw, but I don’t feel ready yet, cowo is only 3 mos. old…

So, thank you for reading this, and ciao from Milano!

Introducing Cowo Milano (Italy).

Hi everybody, just wanted to introduce our brand new little coworking project, here in Milano: Cowo@ monkeybusiness.

First of all I’d like to say that the work thas been done and shared on this blog and related wiki has been fundamental for us, so… thanks guys!

We’ve been officially opened for 10 days now, and we have no coworkers in house yet. This may sound like bad news but actually we’ve started completely out of the blue, so it’s kind of expected to have a warm-up period, I guess.

Our space is a 140 sqm loft on two levels (pictures here) located in the eastern part of the city, towards Linate airport.

The neighborhood is being totally gentrified, being – in the past 20 years – an industrial district. Used to be blue collar environment, now it’s becoming student-artistic-media kind of thing. But still, for now at least, we enjoy the good sides of city borders, i. e. parking with no charge, not-as-much traffic congestions and… my house is at walking distance!

In these first days of Cowo, my wife + partner Laura and myself are mostly concerned with understanding the market need of a coworking place in Milano (as far as we know, we’re the only ones – speaking of cw, desks to rent you can find many), something that we’ll discover in the near future.

The people who showed interest, up to now, have been very different, ranging from the freelance art director to the sailing boat designer, from a group of architects to pr professionals and code writers.

They all seemed fine people and we enjoyed meeting them.

We did notice that our place seem to rise interest in small groups, which brings up the price issue.

Of course a three-people group have a different evaluation of the single desk price, and that’s something we didn’t think of. We are also considering offering a free drop-in 1 day option, which I feel is a nice approach that we already practice with the people we know (so why not extend it as a standard Cowo feature? Thanks Riccardo for your suggestion!)

What else? Oh, what we do for a living! We’re a creative consultancy for advertising, called Monkey Business, the three of us include a copywriting dude (me) with two supertalented art directors, that make look great whatever crap comes out from my mac. Check out our smiling logo and you’ll see what I mean!

Last but not least, we have enjoyed a good blogosphere attention thanks to the announcements made by the Italian Art Directors Club blog and the much-followed creative free-lance blog, BolleBlu.

So, next time you’re in town, please come and visit us: cowo @monkeybusiness via ventura 3 milano 20134… we’ll share pizza e birra to begin with!

They’re Working on Their Own, Just Side by Side

They’re Working on Their Own, Just Side by Side

Yesterday, an article about coworking was published in printed version of The New York Times (written by Dan Fost).

Coworking sites are up and running from Argentina to Australia and many places in between, although a wiki site on coworking shows that most are in the United States. While some have grown-up-sounding names, most seem connected somewhere between the communalism of the 1960s and the whimsy of the dot-com days of the ’90s, like the Hive Cooperative in Denver, Office Nomads in Seattle, Nutopia Workspace in Lower Manhattan and Independents Hall in Philadelphia.

Click here to read the full article.