Work War 3 — Coworking
An open letter to the world’s work force — by Alex Ahom
By now you’ve probably heard of coworking but I felt it very important to explain my personal view to all the freelancers, bloggers, remote/home workers, creatives, digital nomads, startups, investors, entrepreneurs and the people outside the ‘new way of work’ ecosystem. Believing in transparency and wanting to connect with the diverse communities I’m part of/serve as a business, is why I needed to talk about what coworking is and is not.
Coworking is not…
a silver bullet that solves all work related problems for everyone. Most challenges we find at work are brought on by mismanagement and disconnectedness. Coworking cuts this out but still it isn’t perfect.
Just for a second, visualise a platform for growth & progress. Think about a new kind of work place built without the constraints of the past. Is it realistic to strive for better relationships, more understanding between people and greater opportunities at work? That’s the question I asked myself before I started Shhared.
In my experience coworking isn’t only collaborative, it brings people together in a progressive way. An example of this is easily connecting a person with an idea, to somebody who can and perhaps already makes similar ideas happen. Whether in an open space or in a team room of 4 people — magic can and does happen. Small businesses meet investors, photographers work with website designers and like at our recent startup event, budding entrepreneurs meet coaches and mentors.
The world is becoming smaller, people are travelling and working in new cities but how likely are they to find the right someone to work with if they go to a coffee shop or work from their hotel room. People may not crave to be around others all the time but we do need to be connected, whether it be personally or electronically.
Most coworking spaces love events, another advantage over working from a traditional office, home or a coffee shop. Spaces often create a calendar and invite people to come along. What if the attendees created the agenda and drove for what they wanted to be a part of?
Community is a word that spaces often use but what is it (let’s have a separate chat about that) and who should build it. Community managers are in place to guide people but couldn’t an engaged community manage itself? Shhared has been open for 18 months but one of my favourite memories only happened last week. I was on a FaceTime call and a new person walked through the doors. Before I could react, one of our regular coworkers took it upon himself to make an introduction, show the new person around and make him a coffee. I don’t expect that to happen every time but it was a great feeling :-)
Part of the Shhared credo highlights the importance of supportive environments and the benefit this has. A friend of mine runs a space in Amsterdam with a few 3D printers. The community together with his space purchased the printers and now people in that tech and maker community don’t need to buy hardware or hire expensive consultants for their individual projects. They are just active members of a community that lives skills, knowledge and resource sharing. The key is to have different size spaces, in different parts of our cities working together and supporting a diverse group of people.
Success is all around us — support it
WeWork was recently valued at $16 billion, where are the other examples of success? Well let’s keep it all in perspective, firstly what is success? Secondly, it took 100 years to go from the first purpose-built commercial office blocks to the point in the late 20th century when most people were office workers and we realised something wasn’t quite right. Coworking is only 11 years old (and with your help it won’t take us 100 years to be mainstream).
Support your local spaces and find ways to collaborate with them. You might be surprised how it not only helps that business and your community but also your own work.
- Good at social media? Why not lead a social media event at your space!
- Super organised? Ofter to help your space or create a ‘how to be organised’ workshop for your fellow coworkers with your space.
- Like working in teams but your space doesn’t have enough coworkers? Bring your friends and colleagues instead of just sharing a link.
Community is a great thing but we are all responsible for fostering it. Be open, engaged and spread ideas. Working at coworking spaces increases enjoyment and productivity but find the environment and formula that works for you. Then focus on growth for you, your projects, your community and your coworking space.
This is a war we will win
Alex Ahom, Shhared Founder
Shhared — The space to create