“What is Coworking?” It Can Be “On the Road”

Nader Luthera is embarked on a “social experiment” that may have transformed into ”a random act of startup-ness”. Claire Marshall’s experiment was a month in London and environs, Luthera is a year and all around the globe.

As Luthera explains in New Worker Magazine, he decided to “continue working but no longer be confined to any particular place”, to travel around the world alighting at coworking spaces as he goes. He describes this lifestyle as “a digital nomad, “freedompreneur” or remote worker”. This is possible, of course, because he mainly needs his phone, laptop, and connectivity. And, I infer, he is young, childless, and does not need to care for elders at this time.

He is banking on the zillions of coworking sites around the world, many of which are accessible by movable passes. He’s also counting on AirBnB and other “sharing economy” services to find low cost crash pads and other facilities.

As in the case of Sensei Marshall, Luthera has been inspired to turn this adventure into a business. Specifically, he is doing coWork the World, “Join a bunch of like minded people to travel the world and coWork along the way.” Unlike just travelling around the world, this “is all about taking your work with you while you travel and explore the world.

Some of the description doesn’t sound like “working” to me :-), though it is buzzword compliant:

Imagine traveling the world using Uber, booking accommodation through AirBnB, capturing moments on SnapChat & Instagram, pinning it up on Pinterest, live streaming awesome events on Periscope, all while posting stories on Facebook, Tweeting moments of joy on Twitter and micro blogging your experiences on Tumblr.

This is coWork the World.

Luthera suggests that coworking is part of this trendy lifestyle. “By the end of this experience, you’ll be proud to say you’ve been able to remote work from around the world in some of the coolest coWorking locations.” Work is so much cooler if you travel 10,000 KM to do it!

Coworking is not only convenient, practical, and perhaps productive.  It is sexy!

This expedition  is certainly made possible by elements of “the sharing economy”, and coworking spaces. Luthera makes interesting, but certainly arguable claims that this digital nomadic style not only makes people happy, but also “many [workers] could be more productive via remote operation.” I’ll set this unsubstantiatied and debatable claim aside for later consideration.

It is interesting to compare this social experiment with Claire Marshall’s experiment and subsequent ebook. Both Luthera and Marshall exploit the same suite of services and technologies (i.e., “the shareing economy” a la Marshall, or “Peers, Inc” al la Chase)  to cut free from their ties with conventional living-in-a-place.

Marshall crashed in various temporary housing, obtained necessities though swapping services, and worked in shared spaces. She blogged and digitally worked (and tried to do physical jobs, as well.) I imagine that the coWork the Worlders will live much the same way.

However, there is one huge difference: Marshall’s project was localized, tied to the London area. Importantly, many of the services she used were quite local (even if they have global instances). House and pet sitting, meal swapping, and so on are neighborhood affairs. And Marshall comments on the huge satisfaction from these connections and friendships she developed through person-to-person sharing. I also think that she developed some feeling of belonging to the locality and community, which likely added to the good feelings.

Luthera’s crew will, on the other hand, certainly bond with each other (or die trying!) and they will meet and make friends around the world. But I have think they will not be doing so much of the ‘neighborly’, community oriented “sharing”. I would predict that they will meet young people like themselves, but they will scarcely develop any feeling of really living in any of the 20+ “destinations”.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m all for young people traveling around the world (though taking you work along seems like the wrong idea to me 😦 ). But this should not be mistaken for the same project as, say, “Casserole Cub”.  The same technology, quite a different game.

The important point here is that this “Peers, Inc. Platform” technology supports both very local, community-building, neighborly enterprises, and also nomadic, on-the-road, essentially rootless life. (Both these projects have existed long before the Internet, of course.)


What is Coworking?

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