Bill of Rights for Remote Workers

Remote Worker who coworks at Cohere: “Oh My God. I was just on a video call for 4 hours.”

According to Gallup’s State of the American Workplace report, 43 percent of Americans said they spent at least some time working remotely last year. If you’re like many of the Cohere members, your overlords probably require you to video call them often and with great relish. After almost eight years of watching people cowork and work remotely, I think it’s high time we have a Bill of Rights for them. In no particular order, the following standards shall be adopted regardless of timezone, KPI achievement or internet speed.

Internet Speed

Employers shall install at their cost and inconvenience, business class internet in the homes of their remote employees. Fiber is preferred.

Alternative Internet

Employers shall NOT install a redundant ISP at employees’ homes because in times of internet interruption, remote employees shall be expected to recreate.

Humans

Employers shall provide an adequate stipend to all remote employees, which allows them to obtain and hold joyfully a membership of their choice at the coworking space of their choice whether or not they decide to actually use it.

Video Calls

Video calls may not exceed a length of 30 minutes. In extreme cases, calls may be extended in increments of 10 minutes if extra bathroom and snack breaks are provided at an interval of no less than one per hour. Remote employees are allowed to pace during calls.

Agenda

No meeting may be scheduled before an agenda has been created and distributed (turns out a robust agenda can be used In LIEU OF an actual meeting)

Time Zones

Meetings and calls must be scheduled from 10a-3p in the remote employee’s timezone. Calls that happen at other ungodly hours are considered “optional” in perpetuity.

Health

Employees shall have fresh citrus fruits delivered weekly from November through May to prevent scurvy. This provision can be overlooked for remote employees who can prove they went outside daily. Most coworking spaces will provide an attendance report to indicate employee received daylight.

Workstation

Employer will provide at their cost the workstation of choice, no matter how absurd or trendy it is. This includes height adjustable desks, treadmill desks, bicycle desks, desks in water features or standard desks.

Monitors

Employers shall furnish at their cost up to six external monitors in the dimensions of the employee’s choosing.

Power Cords

Employers shall furnish up to eight additional chargers per employee.

Buzzwords

Employers must pay a per word stipend to employees for each buzzword used in email or on the phone including but not limited to: on the same page, touching base, innovation and all derivatives of it, synergy, boiling the ocean, ping, wheelhouse, sports metaphors of any kind, war metaphors of any kind, references to boy scouts and their speeds, pivot (unless you are an irrigation company), rock star, guru, funnel, any references to a fruit’s distance from the ground and let’s unpack this/that. The stipend is set at $.01/word so as to not negatively impact the bottom line of the company in the first quarter of implementation.

Pants

Employers shall permit remote workers to cover their nether regions in the fabric type/shape of their choice including but not limited to jeans, shorts, skorts of any kind, sarongs, slacks, or stretchy pants.

Memes

All employees must be trained how to search for, find, upload and create memes and gifs to be used across all electronic communication platforms.

In return for your modest contribution to your remote staff you’ll see a 50% reduction in turnover and an 82% reduction in employee stress, which equals greater productivity.

via GIPHY

Tiny Coworking Spaces in Washington, Colorado and New York

Cohere was a tiny coworking space for many years before we became the VC-back multi-location titan that we are now in Fort Collins, Colorado (heavy sarcastic tone). Because of that we take special pride in sussing out the lesser-known tiny and rural coworking locations that you’ve probably never heard about in the New York Times, Entrepreneur or Fast Company publications. Today we’re going from NY to WA and stopping over in Colorado. The moral of the story: ALWAYS look for a coworking space even if you’re off the beaten path.

Carnation, Washington: Tolt Hive

Why Cohere loves them: they started their community in a barn.

tolthive

Tolt Hive is in the very beginning phases of building our community in Carnation, WA. Located in the heart of a beautiful agricultural valley about 25 miles east of Seattle, Carnation is a quaint town with a walkable neighborhood and numerous trails that lead to amazing views of the Cascades, rivers, and nearby farms just a short distance outside of town.

A small group of us began gathering twice per week in September of 2014 in a barn loft (no joke) in our little town of 2,000 people to test out the idea of coworking. I founded Tolt Hive in January of 2015 and have moved our gatherings to office space in the center of town. We are in the process of negotiating with the space owners to set up a more permanent arrangement at this location.

We currently get together on Mondays and Wednesdays between 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m at the following address: 31957 E. Commercial Street, Carnation, WA, 98014. Readers can join our mailing list and get more info at www.tolthive.com.

Paonia, Colorado: The Hive Paonia

Why Cohere loves them: a Cohere member was traveling through and couldn’t wait to come back and tell us that there’s a coworking community of “hippie rafters on the western slope!” 

paonia

When The Hive was initially conceived in the spring of 2014, the plan was a far-reaching idealist concept with the intention of bringing the community together, attracting new and amazing people from far reaches, sharing resources and ideas, and collaborating on new ways to create a better future for our local community and the world. Because of overwhelming contributions from our members and the community, we’ve already succeeded , and at a reality-questioning speed!

Beacon, New York: Beahive

Why Cohere loves them: their loquacious description below.

beahive

Beahive has been around since 2009.  Many of our Beacon members are émigrés from NYC. They’re the kind of savvy, ambitious creative class habitués you find in cities, but since they’ve escaped the city for a small Hudson Valley river town famous for both its world-class museum Dia:Beacon and Pete Seeger, and galleries and cafes nestled between a mountain and the river, they’re a touch older (average: 30s and 40s vs 20s and 30s) with an admixture of individualistic and communitarian tendencies.

Yahoo! Disses Mobile Workforce, Becomes Even More Irrelevant

Marissa Mayer, Yahoo, mobile workforce

When’s the last time you used Yahoo! for a web search? Or visited its front page to get the day’s news? The once-popular online destination is now a ghost town. Anyone can tell that the company desperately needs an image makeover, and when they hired Marissa Mayer “First Ever Pregnant CEO Of A Fortune 500 Tech Company” last summer, many people thought they were headed for new pastures.

A 30-something herself, surely Mayer would be in touch with what young professionals want and need from a web destination. As a woman, I hoped she would help to elevate the discussion about the need for women in tech, and demonstrate how a penis and a power tie are no longer the only requirements for a successful executive.

Instead, Mayer has shown an embarrassing willingness to continue the status quo, and in the process, nailed yet another nail in the coffin of Yahoo’s irrelevance in the modern market.

A few days ago, Mayer announced through the company’s human resources arm yesterday that Yahoo employees will no longer be permitted to work remotely. “Speed and quality are often sacrificed when we work from home,” says the memo from HR director Jackie Reses, and reprinted by Kara Swisher on allthingsd.com last night. “We need to be one Yahoo!, and that starts with physically being together.”

Apparently, Mayer is ignorant of the plethora of studies that show flexibility improves worker productivity, morale and health. She must be oblivious to the rise of the mobile workforce and the entire coworking industry. She must also be unaware that some of the world’s most successful companies (aka Yahoo’s biggest competitors) not only acknowledge the value of telecommuting, but basically insist that their employees get out of the office.

The idea that a team is only a team when sitting right next to each other is so 20th century, it’s kind of painful to even attempt a civil rebuttal. Just ask Al, Alex W., Alex C., Medberry, Darrin and Julia (Coherians that are all successful remote employees). As HuffPo points out, “Rather than championing a blending of life and work , she is calling for an enforced and antiquated division. She is telling workers — many of whom were hired with the assurance that they could work remotely — that they’d best get their bottoms into their office chairs, or else.”

Now maybe, as some have pointed out, Yahoo is doing this as a slick way to force people out, and thus reduce overhead. While this is a valid (if not despicable) possibility, it still doesn’t stand up. Several well-known studies have shown that companies can save a pile of money by allowing employees to telecommute, and as the annual Global Coworking Survey has shown repeatedly, those who telecommute from coworking spaces see an almost instant increase in productivity, personal satisfaction, confidence, health, etc.

Mayer clearly has a lot on her plate. New mom, new CEO. Maybe she’s spread a little too thin. Maybe she’s not thinking clearly. But someone at Yahoo better get a clue, or the best and brightest are going to hit the road in search of more flexible pastures. Innovation, something Yahoo desperately needs, doesn’t only happen when you’re chained to a desk. In fact, it rarely happens when you’re chained to a desk.

Business is changing whether you like it or not, Marissa. You can either join the party, or get left behind. And right now, it looks like the bus is leaving without you.

Only 1.7% Of Independent Workers Are Coworking, And It’s All Your Fault

Coworking Private Office

We’ve known that independent professionals represent the new workforce for years. In the coworking movement, we have an unfair advantage (and bias) because we see and hear from freelancers, remote employees, and independent business owners every day. We know their triumphs and successes, and can feel the groundswell as greater numbers ditch the cubicle for location-independence.

That this is the new direction of work seems obvious to us, you’d be surprised at how little the traditional business world knows (or cares) about this phenomenon. To help monitor and quantify the rise of the independent worker in America, our friends at Emergent Research recently collaborated with MBO Partners to compile the 2nd Annual State of Independence in America Report [PDF]. It’s a fascinating collection of statistics that demonstrate how far the mobile workforce has come in a short time, as well as how far we have to go.

Here are some of the statistics that really stand out if you’re a fan of coworking: 

  • There are 16.9 million independent workers in the US (this does include those who self-identify as part-time freelancers–if it did, the number would up around 34 million).
  • The median income for independent workers is $51,000, while a whopping 2.2 million independent workers earn more than $100,000 per year.
  • Only 1.7 percent of the respondents said they had or were working in a coworking  space.

The good news is that according to Steve King of Emergent Research, this is the first time that coworking has shown up, even as a tiny blip on a statistically representative, national survey.

“The 1.7 percent overstates the number of folks who work at coworking facilities, which is a common survey outcome for a hot topic like coworking,” said King. “But we do think this is an excellent sign and shows that  awareness of coworking by independent workers is growing.”

Sweet, but we already knew that. The more subtle point made by these statistics is that there are LOTS of independent workers still languishing in solitary confinement…and they’re some of the most successful freelancers out there! According to the MBO Partners survey, about 50 percent of the $100k+ club list home as their primary place of work.

These are the freelancers at the top of their game, the ones who have encountered challenges and overcome; the ones who have failed and gotten back up; the ones who have shown the world you don’t need a corner office to be successful. In short, they are the ones who have the most to teach us, but they’re not coworking with us!

This means we’ve got work to do. Yes, we can post interesting stuff to Facebook, invite strangers to out Meetups and gather together each year at the Global Coworking Unconference Conference, but these are secondary tactics. The best way to help more independent professionals discover coworking is to tell them about it. You, their friends, family members, and coworkers–you are the best marketing tool coworking has.

Hearing about the benefits of coworking from you is worth way more than a thousand dollar commercial or well-placed press release. Almost all of you were tempted to try coworking because someone invited you, but how many people have you invited?

As Cohere considers another expansion to help better serve independents in other parts of the city, don’t underestimate your role in helping the community grow and succeed. We can’t keep coworking a secret any longer–we want it to be front page news! Tell someone you love about how this new style of work has impacted your life, and next year, let’s see the number of coworking independents grow to 5 percent or more!

Spaces Available for Coworking in Colorado, Part Deux

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.

Denver: Uncubed

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

Boulder: Scrib

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

armory coworking group

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!

Cohere Community is on Loosecubes

 

Hey guess what?! Cohere is moving some of our member and prospective member functions over to Loosecubes. Our friends started this company that helps connect coworkers and spaces all around the world. They’ve issued a coworking challenge and we’re up to the task. Earn points and get sweet prizes for participating. Read more below…

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

This summer, we’re making work fun again. Join us in kicking off the first ever Summer Coworking Challenge. From June 6th until July 4th, we’re spreading the word about coworking to the ends of the earth and allowing anyone to give it a try for free via Loosecubes.

Throughout this month-long initiative, every ‘cube may be instantly booked by members of our community at no charge. We’re also offering a series of awesome prizes to those hosts and members who cowork (or host coworkers), connect with other Loosecubers, and refer friends & spread the word.

Head on over to the official Summer Coworking Challenge page where you can see who else is gettin’ in on the action, familiarize yourself with the rules of the game and stay updated on who’s leading the pack. Every Monday we’ll post a video that features a clue or riddle than can earn you extra loot, too. So tune in!

Get involved: Tweet about it (#loosesummer), Instagram your ‘cubes (and ‘cubemates), and share your experience on Facebook – we want to see it all! The more you spread the word, the more work happiness you’ll deliver to potential coworkers everywhere.

 

Freelance Issues: Dealing With Deadbeat Clients

“Take chances. When rowing forward, the boat may rock.” -Chinese Proverb

If most freelancers were honest, they would tell you that they got into this game without much of an idea about how to run, grow, or market a business.

No business can survive without revenue, and getting clients to pay (on time and in full) is one of the hardest elements of self-employment. You are just you, but you are also a business. Freelancers deserve no less respect than giant companies. Unfortunately, there are lots of skeezy clients out there who will try to convince you otherwise.

Crappy clients deserve to be fired (and here are 5 dignified ways to do that). But firing a client mid-contract sometimes means kissing that last invoice goodbye.

According to a December 2010 poll of 1,600+ independent professionals by Freelance Switch, a whopping 48.8 percent of freelancers have had a client refuse to pay, and never recovered a penny. Thirty-three percent eventually managed to get their money, and 18 percent are still waiting.

Deadbeat clients are a reality of freelancing, and it’s ESSENTIAL that you have a plan for dealing with them. Under no circumstances should you surrender payment just because you don’t want to rock the boat (see kick-ass Chinese proverb above).

Basic Strategies For Dealing With Deadbeat Clients

1. Use A Freaking Contract

Never, never, NEVER start a project without a contract. These documents are your first and sometimes only line of defense against a deadbeat client. A contract can never be too detailed, especially when it comes to payment rate and terms. Make sure it states due dates for payment explicitly. If it’s an ongoing project, make sure it includes details about how long the client has to pay after an invoice is issued, and how you will handle it if payments are late. When dealing with a brand new client, it may also be advisable to require a certain percentage to be paid upfront.

Cohere Perk! Local Attorney Kevin Houchin now holds a FREE open office hour in the Cohere conference room twice a month so members can come in and get business/legal advice at no charge.  Kevin can review your contracts, help you learn better negotiation skills and more.

1st Tuesday of the month at 9:30am
3rd Wednesday of the month at 2:00pm

2. Remember The Golden Rule

Always deliver work on time. This leaves no room for excuses when it comes time to get paid. Issue invoices within three days of finishing a project, or on the same day of the month for ongoing work. If you’ve got a Net 15 in your contract, make sure you have a system in place to notify the client of their delinquency on the morning of day 16.

3. Cease and Desist
Don’t keep working for free. If a project has an outstanding invoice and the client keeps piling on more work, refuse (politely) and be frank about the reason. If the client appreciates your work, they’ll pay to keep you. If they don’t, do you really want to keep them as a client? Also, know that in some cases, it is permissible to repossess work for which the client has not paid.

4. Drop The “L” Word

Every freelancer should have someone they can turn to for solid legal advice. In most cases, the mere mention of involving a lawyer will scare deadbeat clients into quick payment. But don’t issue empty threats. If they continue to resist, commission a lawyer to write an official letter citing “breach of contract” and any other terrifying legal jargon they find appropriate. Lawyers will usually do this for a percentage of the recovered funds, and if you’re owed more than a couple hundred dollars, it’s usually worth it.

Takeaways:

  • Know your rights, and take steps to protect yourself by using a solid contract.
  • Keep it professional, but don’t be a pushover. Clients are clients, even when they’re friends.
  • Don’t wait too long to take action. If you don’t stay on top of payments, who will?
  • If you’re unsure, ask for help sooner rather than later.

Have you ever had a deadbeat client? How did you deal with it? Share your experience in a comment!

Image Credit: Flickr – steven depolo

Cohere Membership: Wait List Process

It’s very exciting to announce that Cohere is filled with so many awesome members that we’re currently not taking any more day time members. Don’t fret though!

Here’s how you can participate in the community until a slot comes open for you:

1. Sign up for a Free Day Pass. We still have space for prospective members to come try it out for a day. This is a great way to choose which membership level you’d like to wait for. We’d prefer you to come on Fridays or Wednesday evenings.

2. Join as a  Nite Owl Lite member. Cowork every Wednesday night from 4p-10p.

3. Join our Meetup group called The Mobile Workforce. By joining this free membership group you’ll have access to our social and educational events calendar. Many of our classes and events are free for everyone or very affordable so this is a great way to plug in to the community without having a Cohere membership.

4. Get on the wait list! After you come cowork on a Free Day Pass, talk with Angel about getting on the list. Here’s how it works: Names are put on the list in order by date. If a membership becomes available, we’ll email each person in turn until someone snaps up the membership. Wait listers are welcome to “pass” on that level of membership but understand that there’s no guarantee when the next membership will come open. If you accept an available membership that is lower than you want, we’ll add your name to the bottom of the wait list and repeat the process until you are coworking as often as you want.

5. Participate in the online discussion on Twitter or Facebook.

Image credit: ferminet

Why Failure Is The Best Part Of Coworking

Kitty Fail

Everyone fails at something.

OK, that might not sound like the most uplifting opener for a Monday morning blog post, but that’s because you’re looking it at it wrong.

Everyone fails. Those people who look like they always have their shit together just learned how to hide it. Your failures don’t make you special or odd, they actually make you normal. You’re not the first independent professional to fail at something, and you won’t be the last.

The other reason to cheer up when you fail is that it puts you in a unique position to be a rock star in the coworking community.

I’ll explain.

No one learns anything of value from someone who’s perfect. Except maybe how to resent said perfectionist. Some of our best times together as a community occur when someone shares their really messy failure story, and we figure out how to clean it up. Or at least how to avoid that same mistake in the future.

We talk a lot about the collaboration and socialization that makes coworking so neat. But it’s really our ability to fail and then share what we learned (or are learning) from that unpleasant experience that helps us become better at what we do.

A community where everyone keeps their failures to themselves is shallow and uninteresting. It’s way more fun to be real. Life as an independent is messy and complex, and all we’ve got is each other! We want to see the roughest draft, hear the first/worst idea, and feel the pain of the client you knew you shouldn’t take.

So don’t hold back! Tell us when you feel like bailing and taking an office job. Tell us when you mailed a press release with a typo. Tell us when you gave the client too much info in the free consultation. Tell us when you take on a client without a contract…and then get screwed on an invoice. Tell us when you bite off more than you can chew.

When you allow us to experience your failures in all their glory, we not only grow as professionals, we grow together as a community. And that’s why failure is the best part of coworking.

Let’s talk about something that went wrong! Share a notable goof, failure or brain fart from your past, and let’s get to learnin’!

Image Credits: Flickr – styro

New Book! Coworking: How Freelancers Escape The Coffee Shop Office

Coworking: How Freelancers Escape The Coffee Shop OfficeFast on the heels of the first-ever ebook for coworking space catalysts comes another riveting read…made for coworkers by coworkers!

Coworking: How Freelancers Escape the Coffee Shop Office (and Tales of Community from Independents Around the World) is designed to help the mobile workforce and small business owners escape the coffee shop or home office, and embrace the coworking movement.

“Anyone can locate a desk and a free internet connection, but coworking provides more,” said Angel Kwiatkowski, the book’s co-author and Madame of Cohere. “It allows independent professionals to participate in a global community that is part support system, part educational network, and part creative think tank.”

If you’ve ever tried to explain coworking to a skeptical audience, and wished for a resource that would convey all the benefits along with reasons to give it a try, this book is for you!

Coworking: How Freelancers Escape the Coffee Shop Office includes vital tips for finding and participating in a coworking community as well as over 30 stories from independent professionals all over the world that are embracing this new style of work.

“Today’s mobile workforce is savvy, but their options for workspace and community are limited,” said Beth Buczynski, the book’s co-author and coworking blogger. “They are desperate for something better than the same old networking events and meetups. Coworking recognizes that freelancers can accomplish more through collaboration, and gives them the solid platform they need to grow and succeed.

Check out a preview of the book here, or download your own copy today!

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