What is Coworking? It Can Be Surf-ful

In my continuing exploration of the question, “what is coworking?”, I have collected quite a menagerie of coworking spaces, which vary a lot. Let’s do one more quick one to wind up the year.

A pedestrian, main stream coworking space resembles an office complex, with some amenities common to many corporate and community spaces, such as food, events, classes, and so on. And, by common definition, a coworking space is home to a community of coworkers, sharing both infrastructure and a group culture.

Unlike office space owned by a single company or institution, though, the space is not constrained or driven by organizational imperatives, but only by the need to attract and keep workers. The “company culture” in the space is all about what the workers want, whatever that is.

Looking at coworking spaces, we can see that the basic template of coworking can be used by almost any community that wants to do so. There are hundreds and thousands of coworking spaces, with an amazing diversity of “cultures”.

This week I encountered another interesting case study, which features, well, a vacation at the beach. In the gray cold winter, why do I like to dream of sun and sand?

The Surf Office offers a “beach villa with coworking space” (!), with locations in Lisbon, Gran Canary (!), and Santa Cruz, CA. A seaside room with an adjoining cowork space, where “digital nomads come from all over the world to live, work and enjoy the coastal lifestyle.”  Cool!

The workspace itself is unremarkable (except for the pricey location), though the space does include “Board and wetsuit storage”, and a variety of group activities, such as “yoga on the beach, hiking trips, beach volleyball, movie nights and BBQs”.

This is not your father’s office! Nor your mother’s, nor, in fact, would this be useful for workers with kids or any other family obligations. And it is pretty far from the “social entrepreneur”, fix the world, culture of many community based coworking spaces.

Surf Office is fun and cool for financially fortunate and footloose twenty somethings, though I’m having trouble parsing exactly why it would be needed. I mean, I love going to the beach, and occasionally have done some important work there. But the work was aided by having time off line to walk and think alone. Why would I want a chatty group of other people along for my recharge time? In any case, I never needed office space, there’s always a table and networking if needed.

And conversely, if I’m going to vacation at the seashore, why would I want to spend hours and hours working? What a waste! (As someone who lives thousands of kilometers inland, every second of beach time is rare and treasured. Then again, I’ve never understood how anyone who lives in these wonderful places ever gets anything done.)

This particular coworking space is obviously not for everybody, but it is an interesting variation on the theme.


What is coworking?

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