Coworking is a product of human nature. As humans, we are designed to be social and collaborative. In fact, by evolutionary standards, our brains are made to thrive off of the brain chemicals produced when we participate in community activities that are mutually beneficial. (For more info on this science and specifics of this human evolution, read Simon Sinek’s book “Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t”).

Wikipedia Defines Coworking as:

a style of work that involves a shared working environment — often an office — and independent activity. Unlike in a typical office environment, those coworking are not necessarily employed by the same organization.

Coworking Space MeetingCoworking is especially attractive to work-at-home professionals, independent contractors, and people who travel frequently and end up working in relative isolation.

Coworking is also the social gathering of a group of people who are still working independently, but who share values, and who are interested in the synergy that can arise from working with people who value working in the shared space and sharing resources.

Coworking offers a solution to the problem of isolation that many freelancers experience while working at home, while at the same time letting them escape the distractions of home.

Coworking is not only about the physical place, but about establishing the coworking community first. Its benefits can already be experienced outside of its places, and it is recommended to start with building a coworking community first before considering opening a coworking place.

The Cowork Consultant and Some of His Coworking Space Wall Art:)However, some coworking places don’t build a community; they just get a part of an existing one by combining their opening with an event which attracts their target group.

(See wikipedia for complete references and article)

Honestly, Wiki pretty much nailed it in their definition!:)

Creating a Coworking Space

The steps for building a cowork seem pretty straightforward:

  1. Find a vacant space and remodel it, or just open or rent a space.
  2. Get a group of like-minded entrepreneurs and freelancers to join.
  3. Bam! You have a coworking space, right?!

In theory, that’s coworking in a nutshell. However, there’s a whole other layer to coworking,and that is encouraging and empowering members to collaborate by creating a culture.

The Cowork Consultant Formula

I’ve always seen coworking as more than providing a space for people to work in proximity to others. I believe the promise of coworking is the opportunity to be part of a community and culture that facilitates partnerships to promote organic collaboration.

If you embrace this approach and promise, they will elevate your coworking space to a level where it’s capable of long-lasting economic and social growth that is mutually beneficial to the coworkers, the management (you), and the surrounding areas.

I’ve been a member of coworking spaces that didn’t embrace this formula. According to the Wikipedia, those spaces matched the definition of coworking. Well, guess what? None of them exist anymore! Most coworking spaces are just that — space. Unfortunately, the common theme between many failed coworks is that the culture isn’t clearly defined and the community is not nurtured. They all have potential but miss the mark because they don’t know about, or embrace, the greater promise of coworking.

This is great news!

The failure of coworking spaces is unfortunate, but this story can be used for motivation! Thanks to the coworks that came before, we now know what makes a coworking community successful and sustainable. It’s easy to build a community focused cowork model that will generate long-lasting economic and social growth AND that is beneficial to the everyone involved.

All you need to do is;

  • Commit to the promise of coworking,
  • Define a culture (learn all about defining culture n an upcoming post:)) and,
  • Decide which coworking model resonates with you. (Click here to learn about the different models of coworking and determine which model you should pursue)

If you are interested in receiving some materials that can elevate your approach to coworking, pease check out the consulting page on this site and contact me for more information. I’m more than happy to share my insights:)

Photography Credits: James Bogue & Others