3 Comments

Summary:

With the number of remote and freelance workers on the rise and the coworking movement maturing, some coworking spaces are getting pickier about their membership, actively curating their communities by seriously vetting would-be members and turning plenty of people away.

3566071999_59f334f39c

The number of freelancers is on the rise with estimates of their eventual numbers ranging from more than 50 percent of the U.S. workforce by 2020 to 1.3 billion worldwide by 2015. All of these mobile workers obviously have to set up shop somewhere. Luckily, the coworking movement is growing at a breezy pace as well, but will supply of workplaces keep pace with demand so that finding a space remains relatively straightforward?

Not exactly, if a recent report on NPR is to be believed. The story by Kaomi Goetz for Morning Edition looks at the evolving coworking movement and suggests some spaces are getting far pickier about who they admit as members. “More companies are adopting a selective approach known as ‘curated coworking,'” says Goetz, offering Grind in New York as an example.

Joining the space is no simple matter of filling out a brief form and handing over your credit card. “If you write two words and two sentences [on your application], you’re probably not going to hear from me. But if you write two pages about why you want to work at Grind, I will bring you in for an interview,”explains Benjamin Dyett, a Grind co-founder who Goetz describes as the “company’s chief gatekeeper.”

But getting past the coworking velvet rope isn’t a matter of coolness or what you have to contribute to the networking pool, Dyett insists, but serves a nobler purpose. “None of it is to be elitist and exclusive. It is to create a strong, cohesive community,” he told Goetz. Whatever the exact reason for the somewhat arduous selection process, it’s not turning off potential members – the space has a waiting list of 100. Meanwhile, Loosecubes‘ Campbell McKellar says the app also vets potential members for fit, likening the process to dating. “There could be 10 men in Brooklyn that have brown hair that are in my age range, but I really would only like one, for reasons that are very hard to describe. It’s about chemistry,” McKellar says.

So what does the changing process for seeking admission to spaces say about the coworking movement? In one way it’s good news as it shows spaces are maturing and making money, and are able to turn away potential paying customers. Others might object that the practice is leading the movement away from its communitarian roots by creating a cool kids club, indicating a scene that’s left its heady early days and moved into a more mature, less idealistic (perhaps less fun) phase.

How does this more intense vetting of potential coworking space members strike you? 

Image courtesy of Flickr user JeffMaysh.

You're subscribed! If you like, you can update your settings

Related stories

  1. DesignIsANoun&AVerb Wednesday, April 11, 2012

    I love the idea of co-working spaces. I would like to see some pop up in areas where historically disadvantaged socio-economic groups can reap the benefits. I look forward to when co-working spaces start offering business services & development, community insurance plans, educational programming and the such. I believe some locations may offer that as a competitive advantage.
    One of the best places I have visited in NYC is Wix Lounge. They definitely have a lot to offer based on the staff, location, and people that use the space. Between those and the variety of educational & networking events the hold on a weekly basis they are at the front of the class. And they are free!

    @GraphicDesignNY

    Share
    1. Some rural communities have thought to use coworking to spur development, which is pretty cool, I think, and in line with what you’re suggesting:

      http://gigaom.com/collaboration/coworking-an-economic-development-idea-for-rural-america/

      Share
  2. Coworking is actually more and more spread out on the planet ! Love this initiative, the problem is that cowering spaces are more often dedicated to web or multimedia workers…
    we are actually developing and creating a cowering offer in Lyon, France, but where we are innovative is we are specialized on hospitality and restaurant industry.

    Check out the Hub : http://www.the-hub.net/ it is very nice!

    Share

Comments have been disabled for this post