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Coworking Evolved

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WWD readers are likely familiar with the notion of coworking – low cost collaboration & community space for digital workers – pioneered by the likes of San Francisco’s Hat Factory and Citizen Space. With coworking communities springing up across the globe, the phenomenon is beginning to morph into a new forms to suit the working patterns of web workers, freelancers and mobile employees everywhere…

  • Coworking is becoming unhooked from physical places as developments such as Jelly – a monthly 24-hour workathon – enable coworking communities to spring up wherever they’re needed; indeed encouraging gracious hosts to offer their facilities for one-off coworking days.
  • Coworkers in Manchester – lacking a dedicated physical space – have been mashing up OpenCoffee networking events with an afternoon of coworking in a borrowed space, such as local company or coffee house. Interestingly, this particular community has somewhat of an agenda in furthering the city’s role as a hub for the digital industries, thought collaborating on startup and technology ideas.
  • Still in the UK – Just across the Pennine Mountains in Leeds, that city’s coworking community is running free, ‘open coworking‘ days to attract people into signing up for their plans and encouraging local university students to use the facilities to launch startups as part of a push to create more entrepreneurs in the region.

It’s interesting to see coworking snowballing as a phenomenon, but like many trends originating in dotcom culture, what’ll be most interesting is how these shifts begin to affect larger companies and more traditional employers.

As enterprises belatedly adopted social media and communication as part of their IT infrastructures, how will human resources and more rigid line management begin to accomodate coworkers in their corporate culture?

19 Responses to “Coworking Evolved”

  1. I am really keen to set up something special in Cape Town, there is a magnitude of independent creatives or freelancers here and they will need a place to work, i feel a great need to fuse the working experience with lifestyle as well and would like to try and create a level where people could work meet eat and play!

    Any comments on funding, investors interested ? What is the best way to financially set up a open office space that will also cater for the human daily need?

  2. We’ve been coworking in Brighton, UK for 6 months now. It grew out of running Open coworking regularly until everybody just knew there was a space they could go to every Friday. We used the term Open rather than just saying it was free to try to encourage people to think about some of the ethos and values that under pin coworking, free implies no value.
    We now have open coworking every day of the week and ask for people to make a contribution either financial or an equivalent.
    One of the things that helped make it a success was the variety of people we have coming in, it isn’t just dev’s but everything from artists, writers through to web geeks. The richer the mix of people, the greater the benefit to all. I’m not keen on seeing spaces that are formed just around one skill set as the diversity makes for the opportunities and collaboration that we see happening.

  3. hi,

    we have just opened our doors to a coworking experiment in northern italy (milano) named cowo.

    i’m happy to tell you that in two months we have filled up the place (5 workstations), and the thing seem to be spreading around.

    we enjoy the company of developers, consultants, boat designers and novelists… (we are a creative advertising group).

    something that i’d like to say about coworking – which is seldom mentioned – is that it works well in fighting oneliness not only for the coworkers who join, but for the hosting group as well.

    btw, we’re also trying to create a small network of people interested (not necessarily from our country) through the cowo blog and a linkedin group.

    ciao from italy,

  4. It’s certainly an interesting area and with enough momentum to start powering spin-off businesses…just today I was reading about the SpareSpace Foundation who help ‘transform empty inner-city shop and office buildings into temporary work spaces for copywriters, designers, artists and other young creative professionals.’

    SpareSpace sounds like a great opportunity to not only provide coworking space, but also regenerate civic spaces; rather than the budget stores that can spring up in such places, creative and technology professionals can provide a limited form of gentrification to an area undergoing some transition.

  5. I have been working with my Village to try and encourage them to sponsor a coworking space but they aren’t biting.

    While they are eager to recruit young technical professionals as residents, they are still failing to see the value in coworking as a part of that campaign.


  6. One cool thing I’ve noticed as I travel around is coworking can play a great role in smaller communities to create a watering hole for open source hackers and entrepreneurs. I was in both Vancouver and Miami recently, and the role of coworking seems to act as a low-cast incubator space for both the open source movement as well as small companies to find each other, hack, network, and get things done. Local city and regional governments should sponsor coworking spaces as a way to stimulate the local tech economy, such as what Paris is doing.

    Brad Neuberg

  7. Coworking is starting to take off here in Seattle too. Office Nomads opened our doors in November and I imagine by November of this year there will be at least 5 spaces spread across the city. Some of them are formal, some very informal. This is an exciting time.