In 1995, a concept, known as "coworking" began transforming work style and space design. To keep anyone from setting "the rules", the initiators defined coworking vaguely.
With only 20 years of history, coworking has evolved into a worldwide movement. It has vastly impacted economies, business development, and entrepreneurial ecosystems. Its progress has had direct impact on work environments and whole industries. Some argue it has influenced a stronger creative economy.
What is coworking? One must embrace the values which unite spaces despite their difference in markets and inhabitants.
Communnity extends beyond people working near one another. Community reflects a value of care not only for the space but for the individuals that inhabit that space. It carries an underlying idea of a shared purpose. Sometimes these communities organize around a similar occupation bringing together industry professionals who can push each other along. Other times the community reflects a diversity of occupations, yet the members wish to learn and grow along side of one another. In both cases, there is a shared value of care present.
An important aspect to any community is the ability to be open with one another. Some cultures struggle with this ideal of being open handed with ideas. Coworking combats this way of thinking. Members of a community must know each other and have trust among their piers. Those entering the space are not there to outright compete or gain the advantage, but to invest and give to the community. Since openness takes time to build, it should always be part of the goals of any coworking space.
Coworking creates an environment for individuals to collaborate with their strengths and professions. Those managing the space can help by encouraging projects that would necessitate collaboration among the members. There have been plenty of examples of new startups and companies forming as a direct result of collaboration within coworking spaces. Such examples create a positive impact on the community internally and the greater local economy.
There has been a shift in work style which rejects the traditional "work in isolation model" which was demonstrated by offices and even cubicles. The coworking value of accessibility rejects this model as well. It pushes the need for people to be accessible. While important ideologically, it may also cause some angst because it entrusts other members to be professional in their approach without being overbearing. When the members allow themselves to be accessible, it builds the community.
Ongoing health and development are central tenets of coworking. Sustainability includes the ongoing development of the economy culture surrounding it. Sustainability brings financial stability and personal/professional growth among the participating members. For sustainability to happen, the members must invest and active in developing the core values.
The coworking community accept these core values as unifying factors across the industry. They are interdependent for the success of the space. Failure in one area may undermine the others. Each core value must be cultivated in the local coworking space.
What has been your experience with coworking? Would you try it, recommend it, or avoid it?