exploring possibilities for an engaging and productive workplace

What's coworking?

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Last month I dropped by Office Nomads in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Seattle. Other than a few Google searches, this was my first exposure to coworking. Online you'll find that coworking is a shared office space; a place where people come together to work and share resources. What you won't find is the community that develops within these spaces. As Office Nomad owner Jacob described, "it's about the intangibles, what isn't captured in a web description."


The environment at Office Nomads was open, friendly, and hip. I saw all the things one might expect to find at the office: a printer, conference rooms, a kitchen, desks, chairs, and computers. What was different was the atmosphere, the space had a friendly buzz, but was also quiet and relaxing. Office Nomads seemed more like one of Fortune's Best Companies to work for: great aesthetics, dog-friendly, no rules, regular events like Happy Hour, and a commuter friendly location with access to transit, bike parking, and a walkable neighborhood.


Despite not making arrangements in advance, the owners took time to show me around and chat for a bit. With hot coffee/tea in hand, we sat down on a cozy  couch where I learned more about why they got started. They talked about community, environmental impact, and being a social activator. 


One thing really stuck with me, Jacob talked about telecommuters and independent contractors working as individuals, then he made an important distinction: individualism does not mean isolation. This really resonated with me as I've been studying and working from home for the past two years and it can feel isolating. I left inspired to find a coworking space closer to home and work there if I continue working independently. 


After a short visit at Office Nomads, coworking is still really new to me, and I'm eager to continue learning. Thank you Susan and Jacob for helping me get started.


Coworking goes well with something else I'm excited about: sharing. To learn more about how these things relate, check out The Mesh: Why the Future of Business is Sharing by Lisa Gansky. 


PS. If you have any experiences with coworking, please share in the comments