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Why do you cowork? A story about “good”- coworking culture.
On 5 December 2012 by Francesca Pick

Along with the rise of coworking also comes the question, what coworking and its culture really is. What is it that people value about coming to a space every day to do work they could also do at home? The new platform GoodCoworking is on a quest for answers.

Only a few weeks ago, I discussed how technology and other factors are changing how we work in the 21st century. The growing popularity of flexible work models like coworking is an essential element of this cultural shift that may be taking place. Many coworkers are looking for a new type of  work environment and don’t just want to save costs or find a temporary office because they lost theirs in Hurricane Sandy in New York.

Even though coworking is surely not for everyone, in a time in which it is a necessity to quickly form flexible teams around tasks and collaborate with people regardless of their location, it might be just the agile work model we need.

Coworking means different things in different places

Software developer and entrepreneur Matthias Wiemann is a passionate coworker. Long before the term “coworking” even existed, Matthias would meet with other developers in cafés or at someone’s home to work on own projects but also collaborate and learn from each other.

When Matthias started coworking in spaces around the world, he ran into one problem: every place seemed to have a different concept of coworking, so he never really knew where he would end up when he went to a “coworking” space. As a traveler, choosing from various coworking spaces in a foreign city and finding the most active community was a challenge.

Coworking is not about the desk, but about the people.

That’s how he got the idea for GoodCoworking, a social coworking directory in which coworkers can find spaces and likeminded people across the globe. How does it work? People who love to cowork can go to the platform to tell their personal coworking story. When you go to the site and update your status, it simply says “I love Coworking”, after which you can complete the sentence in a blank box with why you love it and where you are working.

With this platform Matthias aims to perpetuate the coworking movement and build a trusted community of individuals with similar values like sharing, learning and collaboration.

Even though the website only launched on October 24th, more than 300 personal coworking stories have already been shared and coworkers from more than 300 cities worldwide have signed up. “It has been amazing to see people’s reactions to the site and see the first influx of stories. I have already learned a lot about what drives people in different countries and cities to cowork, and how they define work and themselves within the work space.” A look at the stories on the site shows: Coworking means something different to everyone. And that’s the magic.

 

 

 

Building a global coworking community

GoodCoworking is not alone in its attempt to foster a culture of coworking. Other platforms addressing this need are Coworfing, an app that lets you find cafés, coworking spaces and people’s homes to work at near you, and co.pass, a site that wants to ease and foster the exchange of coworkers by enabling sharing spaces to easily re-bill each other. Jellyweek, another initiative, is a weeklong collaboration event for coworkers “with the aim to strengthen local communities of all kinds and to build new friendships and collaborative structures between them globally”, as their website states.

International coworking experts like Tony Bacigalupo, founder of the coworking space newworkcity and author of “I’m Outta Here – How Coworking is Making the Office Obsolete“, also seem to see the need to advance the global coworking movement. Here’s what he said when he saw Goodcoworking: this site is fantastic … empowers members to demonstrate the true value of their communities!”

What does Matthias like most about coworking?

One thing I love about coworking is the Serendipity effect.

From his experience, once you get open minded people who want to innovate and have certain talents in the same space, great things happen. Often people happen to meet exactly the person they were looking for, just because they were at the right place (or coworking space) at the right time.

There is no doubt that the way we work is changing. If in the next century more of us are going to be microentrepreneurs and freelancers who can’t go to an office to find likeminded people to collaborate with and learn from, we are going to have to find them elsewhere. And Goodcoworking is probably a good place to start.

Here are some of my favorite coworking stories from the site (for more, just signup and share your own!):

I ♥ Coworking at Okuri Spaces Carabanchel

People here are the best. We all help each others in everything we can. They are not just coworkers, they are friends.

I ♥ Coworking at betahaus

Great vibes, a good community, decent coffee and a fantastic team!

I ♥ Coworking at Salisbury Jelly

A day spent in good company and with a change of scene makes a huge difference to my motivation as a freelancer.

I ♥ Coworking at Coworklisboa

I feel at home!


Photo Credit: lab121 on Flickr, CC

Francesca Pick Ouishare.net co-editor (English) and Ouishare Global & Germany Connector. I am passionate about the sharing economy, sustainable business models and finding a way to build trust on the Web. Profile →

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