I bet you never wonder how 3 people with full-time jobs manage to shoe-horn in the creation of a shared rehearsal space for Fort Collins in their “spare” time. If you’ve been following us, you might wonder why I would brag about our ridiculously productive meetings for Cohere Bandwidth when we’ve been at this for almost 2 years. If you must know, most of that 2 years was spent waiting on real estate with very few DONES getting checked off of our TO-DOS. Skip below to the COMPLETION step if you are skimming.
But now that the space is REAL and under construction we spend every Friday going from Oh Fuck! to Hell Yes! Here is our extremely effective meeting process:
- AGENDA: Anyone can create or add to the agenda. We do this in a shared google doc that everyone can edit. The doc contains ALL of the agendas with the most recent at the top. The agenda is usually created the night before or the morning of each meeting. We’re agile and quick so it wouldn’t make sense to create an agenda further in advance than that.
- SCHEDULE: Meetings are always at 10am on Fridays at Cohere and last 1.5 hours. The person who is late has to get coffee for everyone else.
- AIRING OF GRIEVANCES: At the start of each meeting we get our feelings out. Yep, you read that right. If anyone is frustrated or flabbergasted or just plain giddy, we talk it out BEFORE we task. This step is key. Due to the nature of our structure, we can’t be together or even talk every day so it’s important to make a real connection to one another before we start doling out chores.
- ORDER: We go through the agenda in order. Always. We rarely add anything to the agenda during the meeting.
- TIME: Never, ever, ever put an estimated time for discussion on an agenda item. This makes no sense.
- COMPLETION: We complete any tasks that come up IN THE MEETING. Example, if Julie needs to email someone about a radio interview then Shane and I talk about a graphic design task or similar. This allows everyone to be productive during the entire meeting, which is something I never got to experience in corporate life.
- DELEGATE: If any tasks remain, they are completed directly after the meeting ends or get shifted to me (Angel) if possible since I have the most spare time to complete things. Shane will often do heavy duty graphic design tasks outside of the meeting as it’s part of his creative process.
So there. Now you know how we make the most out of our 12 hours/month together.
Does your team have an unconventional meeting process? Tell us all about it so we can steal your tips for our next meeting.
Furnishing a coworking space like Cohere in Fort Collins can be overwhelming and costly. It doesn’t have to be! I always furnish my coworking spaces with a mix of new, old and found products. This approach eliminates the threat of having a coworking space that reads like a showroom and instead gives your members lots of nooks and crannies to choose from and creates an eclectic vintage-y vibe.
So Alex Hillman doesn’t panic, here is a picture with people in it since all that follow will just be things–this is a post about furniture after all.
Before anyone will sit down they want to know where the power is. These wall mountable heavy duty power strips are amazing. They are sturdy and have 8 outlets! Cohere uses one strip
per per table.
In a world where you can drop a grand on a wheely table I always opt for IKEA. Pair this top with these legs to get a table that comfortably seats 2 for $85.99. Wheels make our rooms configurable for events, yoga or plain ole coworking.
The same goes for chairs. You can spend upwards of $500 or more if you want a fancy label on your chair and ventilation holes for your ass cheeks but we get lots of compliments on this $79.99 model from IKEA. Pro-tip: as cool as the light upholstery looks, avoid it. Denim will stain those chairs.
If you need larger desks with storage, these are solid though they take FOR. FUCKING. EVER to assemble.
Assign your most OCD member the joy of this task. $159.99 each.
For softer seating, we enjoy a sofa at each of our locations. Cohere sports a fancier version of this, which was our most expensive purchase in 2010 at $299. Cothere has its cute little sister below which I picked up at a thrift store for $80. Yes, that’s brown velour and a lobster pillow.
Cothere’s itty conference room has this sturdy IKEA table. With the legs the whole thing costs $79.00. The chairs are craigslist finds, brand new in some guy’s basement for $15 each. In the background you’ll see our big Apple TV ready flat screen for presentations and impromptu dance parties. It’s on wheels. Always put your tv on wheels.
The beauty below came out of a garage sale for $25. I sanded, primed, then painted it my signature turquoise with a dark grey racing strip. Black spray paint on the legs took this table from scrappy to fabulous!
This mid-century laminate table came from an estate sale for $75. I got the chairs reupholstered and re-studded for $175. The zebra print is an IKEA bargain at $39.99 for how large it is.
We want to see your clever coworking furniture finds. Please share your photos or links in the comments!
Last year, in an attempt to highlight the diversity of the coworking movement, I posted a blog called “5 Terrific Coworking Spaces You’ve Never Heard Of.” The article featured small spaces in out of the way places…and it instantly became one of the most popular posts we’ve ever published on this blog.
That’s why we’re back with part two! Once again, we’ve focused on coworking communities in places that are NOT New York City or San Francisco. This time, we’ve also made an effort to highlight spaces that are doing more than just providing a place for people to work on laptops. The communities below are doing things differently: elevating and expanding the definition of a coworking space (not that we have one) by holding a place for makers, hackers and artists, in addition to those of us who create on a keyboard.
They also all have awesome names.
In addition to providing little-known spaces with a moment in the spotlight, I’d like this blog post to serve as my personal invitation to the owners and community managers of each: If you’re attending GCUC in Kansas City this May (and I hope you are!) let’s find a moment to meet and exchange stories. If you want to touch base in advance, you can reach me at @CohereLLC, on Cohere’s Facebook page, or by leaving a comment on this post.
7 MORE Terrific Coworking Spaces You’ve Never Heard Of
This is a community-operated workspace for creative people, freelancers, and those who enjoy technology, science, arts, math or electronics. It is part hackerspace, part co-op, and part community events center. Meetupery members are able to meet and discuss projects, explore technical endeavors, and communicate thoughts and work on projects individually or as a group. Check out the Meetupery on Facebook.
Called FREO for short, this space characterizes itself as the place “where library meets living room, with a dusting of coffee-shop mojo thrown in.” A convenient locations and lots of daylight aren’t the only thing this space has to offer: members also enjoy ergonomic chairs, an outdoor terrace, chef’s kitchen video blogging studio; laundry and dry cleaning delivery service; and even a weekly chair massage day to work out those knots. Check out Free Range Office on Facebook.
Just when you think the Austin coworking market might be reaching saturation, Opportunity Space appears on the scene. Knowing that they can’t be everything to everyone, this community has positioned itself as Austin’s all-dedicated coworking space, meaning every desk is a permanent desk. This makes it the perfect place for small companies to set up shop–big monitors and all. Check out Opportunity Space on Facebook.
One of the great things about coworking is how much you can learn from the people sitting next to you, whether it’s knitting or coding. The Skillery’s model is designed to elevate this benefit of coworking, with a big focus on peer-to-peer classes and workshops that help Nashville’s creative entrepreneurs with their business endeavors. Check out The Skillery on Facebook.
This space is passionate about setting the stage for productive collaboration between members–at least one of whom is an honest-to-goodness rocket scientist. They call it cross-pollination which is a pretty perfect metaphor. Also they have swear words on the wall which means we automatically love them. Check out Reno Collective on Facebook.
As we recently realized, artists and musicians are some of the world’s oldest freelancers. Although they use brushes and instruments instead of keyboards and software (and sometimes these too), they have many of the same needs as today’s mobile professionals. That’s why we love Con Artist Collective: an art collective with a gallery and shared workspace that started in early 2010.Members take advantage of the 4-color silk-screen press, light-table,photo studio, communal supplies, computers, and more. On top of this, members can sell their work through the Con Artist website, gallery, storefront, flea-market stands, and even international art fairs like Art Basel Miami. Check out Con Artist Collective on Facebook.
IC CoLab is the brainchild of the non-profit Iowa City Area Development Group (ICAD Group), proving that local government and traditional institutions are capable of grasping the essence of coworking: community and collaboration. “Encouraging economic development in emerging and existing businesses is critical to our area. Coworking spaces do this by providing contemporary workspaces that encourage collaboration,” states their website. We couldn’t agree more. Check out IC CoLab on Facebook.
I don’t know if you’ve been paying attention, but coworking has been getting some serious attention from the mainstream media lately.
New York Times, Inc. Magazine, Huffington Post, The Chicago Tribune, and many more have profiled, explored, and sung the praises of shared work spaces over the past few months. While this level of visibility is wonderful for the global coworking community, it’s a little lopsided.
Browse through these editorials and you’re likely to see the same, big, urban, successful spaces mentioned over and over. Not that we’re complaining, these headliners are forging the way, showing the potential of coworking spaces as incubators and successful business models.
But what about the opening acts? The out of the way spaces that exist in un-metro communities where no one would ever guess there were motivated solopreneurs or high tech startups desperate for a place to call their own. It’s the praises of these oft-overlooked hubs of collaboration and creativity that we want to sing.
So, without further ado, here are some smallish coworking spaces in places you never may have guessed. But should you find yourself off the beaten track and looking for some wifi and conversation, they’ll be waiting.
Alpha Loft – Portsmouth, New Hampshire
Overlooking the ridiculously quaint Market Square, Alpha Loft is a coworking space focused on serving high tech startups and creative entrepreneurs.
Why we picked them: Facebook pictures showed craft beer, bikes on shelves, and Star Wars robot decals on the walls. Clearly kindred spirits.
ThincSavannah – Savannah, Georgia
ThincSavannah is this gorgeous Southern city’s first coworking place, overlooking the newly renovated Ellis Square. Opened in 2010, the space serves freelancers, mobile workers and entrepreneurs, and offers both flex-space and dedicated offices.
Why we picked them: We assume they have awesome accents. Bright art on the walls and really cool tables we’d like to examine more closely. Also, they were integral in breathing new life into a downtown building that had been vacant for two years.
ZenBungalow – Hopkington, Massachusetts
The ZENBungalow is tucked away in Hopkington, MA, a sleepy down of around 14,000. The founder of this space is passionate about supporting local businesses and cultivating the connections they need to survive.
Why we picked them: They have a zen water garden, and at night the space comes alive with workshops, yoga classes and cultural events.
The Shop – Helena, Montana
The Shop is a coworking space in downtown Helena, Montana. It’s a communal workspace geared towards freelancers, consultants, and independent workers that just opened in March of this year. There aren’t a lot of people with the balls to live in Helena, so we’re stoked that there was someone brave enough to open a coworking space.
Why we picked them: They kind of live in Colorado’s attic, so we’re showing some mountain love. Also, there was a picture of some sort of a concert happening there, and we’ve kind of got a thing for bands.
The Docking Station – Green Bay, Wisconsin
The Docking Station is Green Bay’s first coworking office space for entrepreneurs, knowledge workers and collaborative types looking for a great place to work in a great city.
Why we picked them: Great name. Super active blog. Thingies that look like our logo on the wall.
About two years ago (can’t believe it’s been that long!) we published a list of all the coworking spaces available in Colorado. As coworking newbies, we were surprised to be among such great company throughout all corners of the state. Fast forward about 24 months, and it’s clear that the coworking movement shows no signs of slowing down.
To celebrate all this growth, around the world and right here in the Centennial state, we decided to revise the list. Many more have been added, and sadly, some have fallen off. Use this list to find coworking spaces no matter where you are and as a reference for Colorado friends who want to give coworking a try!
Colorado Springs: Enclave Coop
5376 Tomah Dr, Suite 204, 80918
Enclave doesn’t appear to have any preference on what industries may join. Current members are in technical and non-technical arenas.
Memberships range from $15/day-$100/month with your first day free.
Colorado Springs: Epicentral
409 N Tejon Suite 106, Colorado Springs, CO 80903
Members enjoy 24/7 access, with a conference room, private phone booths and event space.
Memberships range from $15/day – $200/month.
Denver: Creative Density
1719 Emerson St. Denver, CO 80218
Space-owner Craig Baute consulted closely with Cohere’s Angel K. when planning this space, and we love what they’ve created down in Denver! CD strives to be a coworking community full of energy that’s focused on having a healthy work/life balance.
Memberships range from $75 – $300/month.
Denver: Green Spaces
1368 26th Street; Denver, CO 80205
Green Spaces has a focus on attracting members who are environmental entrepreneurs but other businesses and freelancers are welcome.
Memberships range from $20/day- $325/mo with your first day free.
Denver: The Hive Cooperative
2401 15th Street Suite 30 Denver, CO 80202
The Hive Coop tends towards programmers but has members from all types of industries like marketing, nutrition and more.
Memberships are offered at $249/mo.
2762 Walnut St. Denver CO 80205
Based in Denver’s RiNo arts district, this collaborative environment works similar to an incubator–a collection of creative minds exchanging ideas and insights with one another in a common space.
Memberships range from $80 – $350/mo.
Boulder: The Candy Shop
1720 15th Street, Boulder
Boasts diverse members from fashion designers to architects and digital service providers.
Memberships are offered at $10/hour | $40/day – $485/mo with a full week free for first timers
2060 Broadway St. Boulder, CO 80303
A downtown Boulder coworking space designed to accelerate success for entrepreneurs, freelancers and independents.
Memberships are offered from $15/day – $300/month
Louisville: The Vault at DaVinci Institute
511 E South Boulder Road, Louisville, CO 80027
Attracts “Mobile Professionals” in a wide variety of industries from attorneys to professional speakers.
Memberships range from $25/day-$600/mo for a private office
Fort Collins: Cohere, LLC (yours truly)
215 Jefferson Street, Fort Collins, CO 80524
Likes a nice mix of “technically creative” types or those who primarily use the internet to get work done.
Memberships range from $19/day – $249/mo with the first day free
Fort Collins: The Hive
117 East Mountain Avenue Ste 222, Fort Collins, CO 80524
Attracts small business owners in tech fields such as development and SEO.
Membership goes from $19/day-$247/mo
Loveland: The Armory
411 Railroad Ave, Loveland CO, 80537
A fairly new coworking community in Loveland’s historic Depot Building. Mostly freelancers, entrepreneurs, remote workers, and creatives.
Memberships range from $45 – $215/mo
TIP: Be sure and try out a few coworking locations in your area before deciding on membership. Each coworking space has a different flavor and it’s best to find the right fit for your social and working style so you can have the best possible coworking experience!
Did I miss any coworking spaces or facilities in Colorado? If so, let me know in the comments!
The marketing strategies chosen for coworking spaces are very important because they can both directly and sub-consciously set the tone for the community.
Creative ideas should be tempered with thoughtful foresight about the kind of people that will be drawn to them. Before you reach for that “brilliant” gimmick, think about the quality of experience that it supports.
Take punch cards, for instance.
Now, don’t get me wrong. When it comes to earning me a free latte, or discounted hair cut, a punch card is quite handy. These are a tiny little incentive that will make me choose Biz A over Biz B the next time I’m thirsty or shaggy. But does it create feelings of loyalty or ownership toward either one? Not really. Does it make me feel like I’m a more special customer, or that I have a personal investment in the Biz’s success? Nah. EDIT: I no longer participate in punch cards at coffee shops et al. because I believe in supporting the businesses I love most BY PAYING FULL PRICE.
I was surprised to learn that, in some coworking spaces punch cards have been formed into a membership plan. People buy a card for a flat price and then receive a punch every time they visit the space.
Sounds like a decent way to get on-the-fence looky-lous to buy in, but to what?
Punch cards in coworking encourage almost the opposite behavior as the cafe or haircut scenario above, mostly because there’s no “get one free” incentive at the end. Instead of hurrying back for more, punch card members hoard their punches, feeling pressure to make every punch count instead of just coming in as they need (or want). This intermittent attendance circumvents a real investment in the community and reduces the membership to latte status and remember, we’re trying to save people from the coffee shop experience. Not emulate it.
Remember, coworking’s best marketing tool is a vibrant community–one where people can’t stop raving about the value it brings to their personal and professional lives. This isn’t achieved by a punch card or any other gimmick. It’s achieved by being social, introducing prospective members to current members, and creating an environment in which creativity and collaboration flourish.
Attending South by Southwest and abandoning the day to day of running Cohere allowed me to get above the daily details and start to notice the larger trends in the global coworking movement.
(Mind you, I’m not talking about number trends like how many spaces there will be, how spaces will scale, how many coworkers, what countries will coworking hit next, etc. There was plenty of that talk at the Coworking Unconference.)
I’m talking about people trends and community and HOW. WE. CONNECT.
I decided to start old school stylie, and looked up the word ‘community’ in the dictionary.
[Latin Lesson. Community: “Roots: etymological. The origin of the word “community” comes from the Latin munus, which means the gift, and cum, which means together, among each other.]
So community literally means to give gifts to and among each other. Which in turn means my community is a group of people who welcome and honor my gifts, and from whom I can reasonably expect to receive gifts in return.
Doesn’t that definition of community just make you want to weep giant tears of JOY? This is why the word community so often follows the word coworking.
But community phenomena isn’t restricted to coworking alone. Humans become connected and form communities for a variety of different reasons:
Who doesn’t love an irresistible personality? Whether it’s radical political figures, celebrities drowning in money and diamonds, top athletes, or even outspoken copywriters, humans love to form communities around a dynamic thought-leader. They motivate us, challenge us, criticize us, and better us. Communities centered on a person are some of the strongest and well-connected tribes of all.
Food co-ops, the town bar, churches, parks, and hair salons are all examples of the strong, dedicated communities that can grow around a space. I would suggest that coworking communities fall into this category as well.
I know, I know: the foodies, happy hour heroes, ladies with lovely locks, and coworkers are getting something larger and more intangible from these places, but without a permanent place in which to congregate and participate in the community, would it be as strong? I think not.
What do Drupal, Androids, blogs, Twitter, chili, pancakes, and unicorns all have in common? They are the nexus of small but passionate communities formed around them at Cohere and across the country. Humans aren’t always good at small talk. Although we might have big ideas brewing right under the surface, it often takes a common bond–a thing–, however tiny, to motivate us to share them.
A thing can also be an idea. The idea of independence or sharing or gardening or open source software. I would hazard that common ideas are what brings the global coworking community together and keeps it growing despite a glorious lack of formal organization or a single leader.
(For more brilliance on how communities form, check out this blog post on How People Become Connected).
If I could make a single plea to every researcher, academic, economist and reporter it would be to stop counting us and start communicating with us. Learn more about where, why, and how our communities form, and why they’re so important to us (even when they don’t make us any money).
Don’t try to predict our growth or dissect what it means. Instead, recognize the significance of our existence and the concept around which we choose to congregate. Only then will you have scratched the surface of what we can and will accomplish.
Image Credit: Flickr – Natalie Maynor
At the Coworking Unconference, there was a lot of talk about how different spaces offer different types of communities, and how as a result, different types of independent workers are attracted to them.
Many agreed that as coworking becomes more prolific and mainstream, spaces will begin to “niche out” as a way to differentiate themselves from other spaces, and as a way to better serve the needs of the growing mobile workforce.
Although my initial thought was that Cohere would be a “safe place to be weird” for technically creative types, we’ve grown to include writers, non-profit professionals, marketers, and both climate and meat scientists! I loved this about our community, because it allows us to be more valuable to each other.
I loved it so much that at the beginning of the year I published a Wish List of other unique professionals I’d love to see join in 2011 (keep an eye out for them in the coffee shops!)
At the end of the Unconference, moderator Alex Hillman of Philly’s Indy Hall posed a great question to the panel about:
a) which types of professionals space owners have been most surprised to see show up in their communities, and
b) the types of people that space owners would love to introduce to the benefits of coworking, but that aren’t showing up quite yet.
See their answers below!
Image Credit: Trip Advisor – Trip Wow
If you’re a coworking space catalyst or a coworking space owner, you should probably have a welcome mat in front of your space.
Okay—not a literal welcome mat.
I’m talking about making new members feel welcome by doing the basic “host”-type duties in your space: greeting potential & new members, giving tours of the space, introducing them to other coworkers, etc.
While these my seem like no-brainer things to do, I’ve discovered that in some coworking spaces, these things are simply not happening. Although not every coworking space has a dedicated host, for those spaces that do have a host, the following to-dos are musts. I’d venture that it’s a real challenge to get a community to grow—and grow bountifully—if coworkers don’t feel like they belong. The good news is that it’s fairly easy for you to help new members feel welcome.
In my mind, the following actions are musts:
- Greet potential & new coworkers. When someone new walks into the space, is it clear where they should go or who they should talk to?
- Provide a tour of the space. No matter how small the space may be, provide a tour to help new members feel comfortable and oriented. Heck, introduce them to the coffee-maker!
- Connect them online. Provide the wireless name and password…and remind them of the website and any other communication tools available. For example, we use IRC at Cohere…old school geekdom!
- Introduce new members to current members. With respect to people’s work and time, it’s amazingly helpful to introduce new members to current members—especially between members you think might have skills, profession or hobbies in common. This, too, helps foster community!
- Orient them to the neighborhood. Do the current coworkers have a favorite lunch spot? Let the new member know what amenities, restaurants and other resources are near the coworking space.
- Other community connections. Is there a calendar of events for the coworking space? Or a list of local meetup groups & events? Or simply a list of all the members? Show the new member! They can then explore these resources on their own time and get more comfortable with the community they’ve just joined.
The idea is to make new members feel comfortable. Imagine how intimidating it is to be the n00b in a group of people who already know each other and are established in their work and social patterns. This can be challenging, even for the most extroverted of people. Fortunately, it takes only a few simple actions to help welcome new members.
If you’re a catalyst or owner, do you have other or different ideas about how to welcome your new members? What has worked and what hasn’t?