“What is Coworking?” Working Draft Of New Paper

What is Coworking?

As the year winds up, I am pulling together themes that have appeared in this blgo over 2015. One frequent theme has been examination of the question, “What is Coworking?”

I pulled together some of the important ideas and research questions in a new “white paper”.  [PDF] This is sort of “Chapter 1” of what I’ve learned this year.

As I began to explore the question, I discovered that coworking is not only part of “the sharing economy” (also known as, “the Uber economy”), supporting what I call “the new way of work”, it is also a “movement”, with conferences, wikis, and all the trappings.

OK, this is getting interesting. There’s something happening here, what it is ain’t exactly clear.

But this wasn’t the whole story, not by a long shot. Not everyone agrees about or even cares about the “movement”, whatever it really is. In fact, coworking spaces are organized in many ways, offering many different services and “amenities”, and, everyone agrees, have substantially different “vibes” and ”cultures”.

How can these things all be “cowork spaces”? What is the essential feature they have in common?

The answer turns out to be “community”! Across all these cases, the space serves and is inhabited by a community of workers, a community that shares the space and values the connection to the community that happens there. This community resembles the “culture” of a company in many ways, but the workers are independent, and the space is not owned their employer.

In other words, coworking is a social or anthropological phenomenon. Cool!

Even better, these communities are scarcely chance developments. They are consciously created and maintained. In some cases, it is describes as “curating” the community membership. There is a growing body of knowledge and practice, and there are now professional “community managers”, and a training program to help promulgate “Cotivation”.

Cooler and cooler.

So this has my quest, to discover the many ways that people answer the question “What is coworking?” What kind of communities create and inhabit coworking spaces, what do they do there, and why? What does the space need to be? How do you create and operate a coworking space? How well do they work?

What is the “coworking movement”, and how does it fit with other “movements” such as open source, social enterprises, and so on?

Most fun of all, what kinds of spaces exist? How are they similar, how are they distinct?

Read the whole article here.



What is Coworking?


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