Coworking and the Connected Community
The impact of coworking on an entrepreneurial ecosystem
Coworking has continued to rise since it first became on trend in the startup and entrepreneurial community. Spaces provide a way for entrepreneurs to work in an office setting, without needing to buy a building and at the same time be able to avoid working out of Starbucks.
Coworking spaces provide so much more than a desk to members and can truly provide a community.
It takes a village to grow a startup.
The term “coworking” was first coined by Bernard DeKoven to describe a phenomenon he called “working together as equals”. DeKoven wanted to apply the collaborative techniques used in designing video games to a more traditional business setting. To his surprise, the concept of “working together as equals” was actually quite revolutionary.
The coworking movement was launched in 2005 by Brad Neuberg (part of connectionsSF, a coworking space in San Fransicso) and Chris Messina (inventor of the hashtag). The movement became one in which technology supported the collaborative work in these coworking spaces.
“The environment they created was also designed to allow coworkers to work together, as equals. But separately — each working on their own projects, pursuing their own, separate business interests. In this way, people were free to help each other without worrying about competitive pressures. And the result was productivity, community, and, surprisingly often, deeply shared fun.”
Benefits for Members
There are a multitude of benefits to working in a coworking space: work is meaningful, people are given flexibility, there is a sense of community, the environment is more relaxed, and there is space for collaboration. The benefits one derives is dependent on their personality and what is being offered at their respective space- coworking isn’t for everyone.
Work is Meaningful
The largest reason people thrive in a coworking space is they see their work as meaningful. In most coworking spaces, people are working on vastly different projects. There is little to no competition, producing a non-threatening environment. Each individual often possesses a unique skill set. Individuals become more valuable to others in the coworking space than perhaps a traditional office environment.
Most coworking spaces allow 24-hour access. This gives business professionals and entrepreneurs a great deal of flexibility that isn’t usually available to those who work in a traditional office environment. A flexible schedule means one can come and go as necessary. They can go to the gym in the middle of the day, take a long walk to clear their head, or even take a few days off to care for family members.
Even though everyone is working on their own projects, there is a great sense of community present in coworking spaces compared to offices with one type of skill. The users create a supportive culture in which they want to help each other to succeed and there isn’t a sense of competition. This culture benefits everyone involved.
In coworking spaces, the atmosphere is far more relaxed. People going in don’t have to put on a “work persona”. They don’t have to wear a suit to work. In addition to reducing stress, this relaxed atmosphere also provides for deeper, more genuine connections among peers, and opens up the space for more creative work.
In a coworking space, everyone has different skills and helping each other becomes the “norm”. When people combine their unique skill sets, it allows for more productive collaboration on projects and ideas. Unique perspectives combine well with people’s experiences (everything that makes people interesting) and these can be shared to encourage growth and new ideas.
More than a Desk
When visiting a coworking space, you get a feel for its unique vibe — walking into 1871 in Chicago gives you different energy than walking into The HUDSON in Milwaukee does.
Working at a venue for a day provides you an inside glance at what the community there is really like. More often than not, you’ll find entrepreneurs collaborating, sharing ideas for each other, helping get over the next roadblock.
The ecosystem you find in a coworking space is the same we’re looking to build here in Kenosha as a whole.
We at Kenosha Startup Week have the benefit of being able to see the big picture here. We can step back and see all the pieces of the community we’ve interacted with. It isn’t hard to start seeing how each piece can fit into and benefit another.