What is Coworking? It Makes the World Better

The Original Meaning Of Coworking (TOMOC) was

  1. “Community
  2. Openness
  3. Collaboration
  4. Accessibility
  5. Sustainability”

(From OpenCoworking, “values”)

Coworking is a positive response to the “new way of work”, the gig economy, coworking spaces are bottom up communities of workers, banding together in a space where they can work, collaborate, and network. And, very importantly, coworking makes coworkers happy.

At the recent Global Coworking Unconference Conference (GCUC 2016), the business of operating a coworking was front and center. But there were still vestiges of this older, simpler vibe.

For example, Nate Heasley discussed his time based alternative currency (goodnikels), which are designed to foster collaboration through barter of services, aiming at local social enterprises. If not directly related to coworking, this is certainly “coworking adjacent”. I will have to look at this effort in more detail, because I have been struggling to figure out how to harness cryptocurrency-like technology to do this kind of pro-social, karmic, accounting.

The GCUC alliance itself is setting up a foundation which, among other proposed activities is doing “AllGoodWork”, which encourages coworking spaces to donate “unused” space and expertise for use by “deserving organizations”. Essentially, free coworking for non profit organizations. (The web site describes this program as “tremendously impactful”.) [slides]


The most interesting talk, though, was by Tony Bacigalupo, beloved elder statesman and preeminent communitiologist.  Possibly reacting to some of the other speakers, his talk was about “Consumer Coworking” [slides], which I think must be what the “Service Office Industry” provides.

Consumer coworking is “lame”, he says, but it is coming, and it aims to suck away your members. What is the antidote? “authentic coworking”. Don’t focus on furniture, and don’t talk about “community”. Do community. Be community.

Let the people (coworkers) do the talking, he says. “Authentic coworking cares about the experiences people are having” and is a part of its neighborhood.

“Authentic Coworking doesn’t have to worry about competition, because it’s too busy being its own awesome self. “

Take that, you vampires!

Unsurprisingly, Mr. B. himself is walking the walk, with his “Cotivation” program, and the New Work Cities consultancy, which teaches how to do “Coworking the right way”.

Amen, brother Tony!


I didn’t come to GCUC expecting such a massive schism as I encountered. It will be interesting to see how this develops.

You can tell which way I lean.

 

What is Coworking?

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