Coworking or Noworking?

The New York Times continues its love affair with the notion of coworking with last Friday’s Working Alone in a Group by Lisa Belkin.

Quickly realizing her home is not conducive to a productive working environment, Belkin experimented with coworking at Stamford CT’s Soundview Coworking, (actually a little more formal than regular coworking spaces, probably due to it’s location inside a lounge at the local Marriott).

Belkin goes on to explore some of the downside of coworking, relating the story of Cubes & Crayons founder M. F. Chapman:

“I wasn’t getting any work done when I was there,” because clients wanted to stop and chat. When she has real work, she now heads home.“


That’s an experience that I can relate to – “Reverse Teleworking” – only being able to be productive at home and using the office to complete domestic tasks, like paying bills! When I’m at my own coworking space, Old Broadcasting House in Leeds, I do find myself getting lost in discussions with fellow coworker and belatedly realizing I’ve fallen behind on the tasks at hand.

Coworking is perhaps too new a phenomenon to fully understand and develop best practices around, however there are resources and practices emerging to help home workers with training, meetups and professional development.

One of these companies is the UK’s Beyond9to5 due to launch its services this coming September.The company is seeking to support home workers with a number of online courses including bookkeeping, online community management, lead generation and customer service – in the process equipping people with the the skills to ‘earn a living working flexibly from home or from wherever they choose, via the internet’.

Though Beyond9to5 isn’t fully formed, it’s interesting to see support services and industries springing up targeted specifically to web workers. In time, I imagine we’ll begin to see coworking spaces going beyond simply providing space and community, but deeper cross-disciplinary support, counselling and best practice workshops.

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