2016 Roundup: Coworking And Related Topics

This year I continued to blog regularly about coworking, discovering many different viewpoints on this contemporary sociotechnical “movement”

[See posts tagged “What is Coworking?“]

The topic has shaded over into other aspects of contemporary working life, such as  “the sharing economy”, the “new way of work” and “Platform coopertivism“.

Global Coworking Unconference Conference

In May I attended the Global Coworking Unconference Conference (GCUC 2016) in Los Angeles.  (Several posts: here, here, and here).

The GCUC conference in May was notable for the controversial and unexpected swerve towards “industry”, apparently leaving behind the mom-and-pop, “open source” feel of early coworking, and embracing a move toward become a sector of what they call the “service office sector”.

This idea was controversial, to say the least. “Commodity coworking” was contrasted with “Authentic” coworking, analogous to the comparison of fast food chains versus local joints. A remark that, taking the point of view of the “industry”, “community is our product”, provoked the sharp retort that “Community is a product like a soul is a body part.”

Hot times in LA!

A New Ebook is Coming!

With dozens of blog posts on the topic, it was clear that there is a lot to say about coworking.   In fact, there is a book’s worth!

This year I have finished a first draft of a new book, “What is Coworking?”, to appear early in 2017. The book consolidates and organizes the material in the blog, along with many other pointers and ideas.

“What is coworking?” (Coming in early 2017)

In the “new way of work”, coworking spaces are where the “gig economy” happens. It is where independent workers find the support and inspiration of a community of peers. With tens of thousands of coworking spaces hosting hundreds of thousands of workers, this interesting and increasingly important phenomenon is not well understood. This book outlines the development and current state of coworking, and examines how coworking really works.

Topics include:

  • Coworking spaces are built on a ubiquitous technological base, but there is a great variety in the physical, business and social structure of coworking spaces, and especially in “culture” of individual communities.
  • Coworking is not really about technology or workspaces, it is all about community. In this age of continuous and ubiquitous digital connection, a coworking space offers a face-to-face community of peers. The community is a valuable respite from the isolation faced by many independent and freelance workers
  • The research is clear: coworking makes workers happy. In surveys, coworkers consistently report very high levels of satisfaction, as well as productivity, creativity, and “serendipity” (spontaneous collaboration and mutual help). These feelings are far more positive than reported for other workplaces.
  • A new cadre of professional community leaders has emerged, with a variety of job titles such as “community manager”, “curator”, “community catalyst”, etc. These folks deploy an array of pragmatic tactics to crate and sustain “community”, techniques drawn from a variety of sources.
  • Many coworkers identify themselves to be part of a global “coworking movement”, expresses a narrative which is a positive response to contemporary work. Participating in a coworking community is an opportunity for workers to enact a role in a larger narrative, which offers their work and working life deeper meaning.

This new book is an eclectic examination of the practice of coworking, writing by coworkers and leaders, and research that as studied coworking communities. Asking as many questions as it answers, this book is a thoughtful and thought provoking look at “the new way of work”.

Stay tuned for more coworking in 2017.


What is Coworking?



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