Commanding Chaos for Coworking, Open Source and Creative Communities

What makes a Coworking space great?

Wed, 06/16/2010 - 04:07 -- rprice

Today I saw a very happy post by CoLab Orlando for getting mentioned on a blog for entrepreneurs. The blog had named Orlando a top city to start a company, and this was a follow-up list of Coworking movements in those top cities. Orlando squeaked by with a grand total of one space describing their offering as coworking.

From 53 Coworking Centers in the Top Cities for Entrepreneurs:

Of course while bootstrapping a business every entrepreneur is looking for ways to keep what little money they do have but build an empire at the same time. Coworking is a relatively new option for business owners when it comes to getting office space.

If you don’t already know coworking centers are places that allow you to rent a desk, office, or simply come to hangout in an open room with other business owners doing the same thing. The centers will offer wifi, coffee, comfortable furniture, printing and of course an innovative setting. You have to signup for one of their packages that could range from $10 for a day pass to a few hundred dollars to rent your own desk for the month and a variety of options in between.

Whatever you do it becomes a cheaper and often more comfortable and innovative setting then renting your own private office space.

Very nice, I can save some money. I was glad to see the list of spaces so long - 53 spaces in 10 cities - but I was not very happy at their coworking sales pitch.

Edit: Plus there is a picture of a bunch of folks at a Jelly working in someone's living room (I assume JellyNYC). That's fine. There was even a token female in the picture. I was not too sure this screamed "entrepreneurship".

My reply:

Your description of Coworking is abysmal. It does not lend any help to differentiating Coworking from a shared desk, pay-as-you-go office environment.

One of the most important things about a great coworking space is the safe atmosphere it creates for collaboration and mentoring.

At a coffee shop, I can't turn to the person next to me and ask their opinion on something, or brainstorm an idea for my project - they would look at me funny.

At many shared desk environments, it's dog-eat-dog, and if two people are in the same business, they'd be in direct competition, and likely stealing clients from each other.

Since the coworking space is more collegial, you can share that project with your potential competition, or hand it to him when you get to busy, and he might be inclined to hand the next one to you.

Also, the vibe of a great coworking space is hard to match, even at most places that use the term "Co-Working" somewhere in their sales pitch. The collected energy, passion, and raw talent is often dripping from the walls. There are many spaces where people are not just getting started, they're putting down roots.

Since I'm involved in creating a space with Coworking elements right now, I feel like I am a bit more touchy about this subject than otherwise.

P.S. If you haven't taken the Urban Re-Think Survey yet, I'd love it if you did. It would really help us out.


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Your reply is the best description of what coworking is and is not I have seen in a while. Well done Ryan!

As coworking gets more exposure through mainstream media it is important (as you stated above) there is a differentiation made between "rent-a-desk" and coworking.

Again, well said!