What is Coworking? It is Still Space+Community

As I have written consistently, coworking is all about “community”.  (Always has been.)

But a coworking space is a physical space where the community meets face-to-face, unlike so many contemporary communities which are completely digital.

So, Bob’s Formula is:

Coworking = Space + Community (Eq. 1)

(So scientific!)

This spring I posted about the GCUC meeting in LA, at which a number of speakers advocated the idea that “coworking” is a part of a larger “service office industry”.  Sometimes termed “Social Office Industry” or “commodity coworking”, the idea is to create office spaces with “community” sprinkled on or stirred in. “Community is our product”.

I dunno about that entirely, but it certainly sets down a marker for designers and developers: just how would you create “social office” space, if you wanted to?

Sydney based designer Naomi Tosic writes about The Importance of Community in Collaborative Space [2]. The Tosics design workplaces, combining slick décor (from Boris) and with management and “curated” events (from Naomi).

The Office Space” are inspired by coworking and the “social capital” generated by coworking communities. Their business plan is to deliver high quality “space + community” in what they call “a
 boutique serviced office concept”.

So how do you do this?

The office space itself is very nice, but essentially conventional. The special sauce is the management of the space, and an active effort to create and sustain a thriving community of “like-minded entrepreneurs”.

“Great communities rarely happen without deliberate and continual planning, consultation and shaping.”

The “shaping” takes the form recruiting and, especially,  organizing events in the space.

We curate a range of cultural programs and business initiatives for our residents and the broader community.

This program includes:

  • “Commerce” – business skills and information
  • “Community” – social meetings
  • “Culture” – art, crafts, excursions

As I discussed after GCUC, this sort of “social office” is becoming the flavor of the month, and many landlords are trying to offer “community as a product”. The Tosics’ offering isn’t that different from others, such as NextSpace or WeWork (though smaller and boutique-y), but they have a particularly tightly integrated approach.

I also appreciate that instead of office space with “some community” sprinkled on, they put the “social” at the front and center. The physical space looks nice, but they aren’t trying to sell you pretty interiors, they are selling the people and interactions that happen there. In this, I think they are right on.

“The workplace of the future will be more than just a place to do business. It will be 
an essential microcosm of society that is connected, convivial, commercially viable, culturally aware and collectively responsible.”


  1. The Office Space. Serviced Offices Sydney – The Office Space. 2016, https://theofficespace.com.au/.
  2. Naomi Tosic, The Importance of Community in Collaborative Space, in ShareDesk. 2016. https://www.sharedesk.net/blog/2016/05/the-importance-of-community-in-collaborative-space/

 

What is Coworking?

 

Note:  please stay tuned for my new ebook, “What is Coworking”, coming early in 2017.

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