What is Coworking? It Might Be Theraputic

Andeas Wolf writes in Sharable.net about “How to “Hoffice” with Other Freelancers”.

What is “Hoffice”?  This is a version of coworking in a “Home+Office”. “[T]he core idea of Hoffice is that someone invites you into their home, which is thereby transformed into a temporary co-working space.

Swedish psychologist Christofer Gradin Franzén and Johline Lindholm have developed a rather structured approach to this simple concept. It sounds not a little like an encounter group or therapy session. Coworking as therapy? Hardly the strangest notion.

The group is recruited via social media (though there are many ways this might work). It is important that everyone is expecting to “hoffice” in this style, as will be plain from the rest of the template.

A small group meet at someone’s home. The opening meeting is a circle including mindfulness (which coworkers are presumed to know and practice) and some sharing of goals for the day. The example reveals the psychotherapy origins of this approach, “You say something like: “Today I will celebrate, if I get X & Y done””.

The idea, of course, is that the group is both supportive and will hold you accountable.

“Work” proceeds in 45 minute blocks, punctuated by breaks. Besides stretching and moving, break time features checkins to reward progress and help with problems. This blocking also forces time management, breaking work in to 45 minute chunks and tracking progress against this plan.

After a while there is a communal meal break, with networking, naturally. At the end of the day, there is a celebration, to report on accomplishments, cheer each other’s success, and help with troubles.

This structure is based on a reasonable notions of how to help people work. The principles are summarized as:

  • Keep breaks (based on limits to effective concentration)
  • Enhance focus through exercise
  • Social accountability
  • Assess time consumption (creating and tracking “time packages”)

These are all excellent work practices in any situation! Except for the “social accountability”, you can do this alone, or in any group, no? And I could imagine using this sort of practice in a coworking space—and I bet people do something like this in their coworking.

Gradin Franzén points out that this whole experience is designed to be “a gift”, both hospitality from the host, and among the group. As he correctly points out, this mutual “gift giving” is a virtuous circle, motivating us to give even more. This will lead, he believes, to “serendipity” (a la Olma), and, it makes people happy (a la Marshall). That doesn’t sound bad to me.

This “Sweedish” approach is considerable more organized that Kane’s “Home Coworking”, (which she terms “a friendship incubator“), with it’s highly detailed structure and global digital community. Personally, I think I’d be more comfortable with the free-form, Seattle style home coworking, than the more mindful “Swedish-modern” version. But I’ll bet dollars to donuts that these groups are deploying the principles articulated so nicely by Gradin Franzén and Lindholm.

For the record, I will point out that their method as stated today uses Facebook to organize the community. This precludes me from participating, since I am not and never will be on Facebook. This is a minor detail that can easily be fixed. (For example, see Marshall’s book for pointers to many ways to set up such “dating service”.)


What is Coworking?

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