If You Don’t Have These 7 Types of Members, Your Coworking Space Will Fail

It takes all kinds of people to make a coworking space go ’round. Does your coworking community have all SEVEN  types of critical members? If not, you better manifest them in a hurry!

  1. The Connector: Forget 7 degrees of separation. This person probably had lunch with Kevin Bacon yesterday. Your super connectors take pleasure in connecting two people together on a theme. The more bizarre or remote the connection, the greater the thrill for a connector. Question you are most likely to be asking a Connector, “do you know anyone who (jumps rope while singing, used to work at that one company that was over on Riverside?)…..??”
  2. The Attentive: This member knows a little bit about any topic. You’ll find them frequently scrolling social media platforms and reading a wide variety of headlines (they probably don’t read the actual article). That thing you mentioned about baby pigs in passing? She stored it for later use. An Attentive makes a wonderful community manager because she remembers all the small details about members (and who hates coconut on their donuts). Question you are most likely to be asking an Attentive, “Hey, do you know anything about LED bulbs/composting/SEO/best chocolate….?”2015-06-26 17.05.52-1 (1)
  3. The Sarcastic: The eyeroll and upside down face emojis are this member’s best friend. They are extra quick with the quips. Any new member who can survive a day coworking next to Mr. Sarcasm will be a member for life.
    Notable: The Sarcastic usually pairs well with a Counselor (if you’ve got one in your space).
  4. The Extrovert: You don’t need very many extroverts to make a coworking space work. In fact, I recommend a max of 3 and never in the same room at the same time unless you like to hear 3 people talking at the same time all day. Your Extroverts are perfect for social events and getting conversations started. Disclosure: I’m an extrovert and banned from our quiet coworking areas.
    Question you are most likely asking the Extrovert: invalid. They will ask YOU the questions.
  5. The Caretaker: Sometimes referred to as a “Work Spouse,” this person attends to the earthly tasks of the space. Taking out trash, changing lightbulbs and tightening door handles all come with the territory. Some Caretakers actually enjoy this (mindless) work as a way to take a break from the hardcore analysis/thinking of their day job.
    Statement the Caretaker is most often telling you, ”people aren’t washing their dishes again.”
  6. The Empath: It’s hard to find an empath that can actually function in a coworking space for long periods of time since they can be quite drained by being around a lot of people all day. If you are lucky enough to have an Empath, love them hard while they are there. The Empath will sooth nerves and validate the other members’ emotions. They’ll see your soul with merely a glance and are easy to talk to.
    Question the Empath is asking you: they will ask you about the thing you least want to talk about at that moment but you need to.
  7. The Catastrophizer: Arguably my favorite type of member, the sky is always falling. Changing a lightbulb? According to the Catastrophizer, you’ll probably drop it, it’ll shatter and we’ll all inhale some carcinogen. Launching a business? This is the member to buy a six pack for and let him run down all the ways you’ll be homeless by next Tuesday if you do anything. The Catastrophizer is great with safety checks, emergency plans and alerting someone when the toilet paper is low.

Do you have all seven types? What other types would you add?

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How To: Accrue Vacation as a Freelancer

It’s nice to be a freelancing coworker in a coworking space.  We can avoid workplace politics, cubes, a set work schedule and any number of HR forms.  One thing I miss about working a 9-5 job is accruing vacation.  Now, I never thought that I had enough vacation but at least I could look at my paycheck and see those sweet vacation hours pile up.

As we find our schedules packed with more family than clients, it’s the perfect time to set vacation goals for the year. The joy of freelancing means we don’t have to pick the same 2 weeks each year and can take frequent short trips to renew ourselves.

So the question becomes, “Why aren’t we accruing vacation?”  If anything, we’re working more hours than most 9-5ers and taking less time off because we’ve lost our work/life balance somewhere along the way.  I say, let’s start accruing vacation and USING it.  Pick how many weeks of vacation you feel you need per year and do the math.

2 weeks off = 1.54 hours of vacation accrued per 40 hours worked

4 weeks off = 3.07 hours of vacation accrued per 40 hours worked

6 weeks off = 4.61 hours of vacation accrued per 40 hours worked

You can do the same for sick leave as well depending on how much you tend to need.

Are you a freelancer who rewards yourself with vacations?  Where do you like to go and what do you do on your vacations?

From Coffee Shops to Coworking in Old Town Fort Collins


Beth abandoned coffee shops and joined Cohere as a Wayfarer where she writes and writes, smiling all the while.

**enjoy this post by member Beth Buczynski from our archives**

Then…

Before I became a freelancer, I used to fantasize about what it would be like to be the master of my own professional domain. No unreasonable boss limiting my creativity, never being forced to support something I didn’t believe in, and no need to leave the house to work- ever.

When I finally made the leap to full time freelancing, I realized that while working right across the hall from my bed was oh-so-convenient, it didn’t always encourage me to be productive (or professional).

The Pain…

So I set out in search of alternative work environments, and like so many freelancers, soon found myself adrift in the coffee shop circuit in Old Town Fort Collins. Constantly searching for a dependable wireless connection, I bounced from one coffee shop to the next, feeling lost and frustrated, and hoping that my purchase of a bagel and bottomless coffee would be enough to buy me some uninterrupted time when I could finally get some work done.

Between tiny tables, screaming children, and constantly smelling like I’d used my own clothes to clean out the espresso machine, I managed to squeeze out just enough work to get by, but noticed myself becoming desperate for stimulating conversation throughout the day…and an internet connection that wouldn’t unexplainably kick me off right when I hit ‘submit’ on a really important assignment.

The week I was forced to leave three different coffee shops after unsuccessful attempts to coax my computer and their router to be friends, I knew I had hit rock bottom, and decided it was time to find a better solution to my office-less-ness. That something turned out to be coworking.

Now…

After a little more than a month at Cohere (update: Beth has been a member for over a year now), I’m happy to report that the urges to hurl my laptop out the window have completely subsided now that I have access to a rock solid internet connection, ample electrical outlets, and an amazing selection of desk space that allows me to spread out and get comfortable before a day of work.

Unlike a coffee shop, we encourage you to talk with your neighbors.

When I get up in the morning, I know that instead of fighting soccer moms, business lunches, and college kids for room to work, I have a specific place to come every day where the only other people within earshot are those also interested in being productive (and occasionally ignoring work altogether to laugh, debate the proper punctuation of a bulleted list, and devour a cupcake).

The members that make up Cohere have become a source of inspiration, motivation, innovation, and levity in my life, not only making me a better writer, but also a better, more connected member of the community at large.

If you’re tired of dragging your laptop from one tattered coffee shop couch to another, I encourage you to give coworking a try. You might come for the internet and the cushy chair, but you’ll stay for the conversation, collaboration, and support.

 

 

Prospective Intern Cheat Sheet

Cohere’s hiring process for interns can be a bit unconventional. I’ve asked the most recent 2 applicants to attend our first annual chili cook-off as their introduction to the community. No interview questions allowed, no khaki slacks required. In fact, if you hand me a resume, I’ll show you the door. I sure hope you’re reading this.

You might be nervous to come to a social event for your first “interview.” That’s normal and I guarantee that your parents and career counselors are probably googling “Cohere Fort Collins” with confusion. They’re probably scratching their heads wondering how to prepare you for such an innovative interview process. Okay, they probably aren’t using the word innovative.

Here are FOUR tidbits of advice to help you at a social event-interview:

  1. You’ve already received an email from me so you know what to bring. Bringing anything more than that will just weigh you down. Especially when we pit you against one another in a foot race to take down the company flag on the roof.
  2. Ditch the business cards. We’re far enough in to this relationship that I’ve googled you, checked your Facebook pages (before you changed your privacy settings) and seen if you’re on twitter. I know how to find you. I don’t need your tiny paper bio.
  3. Treat this social event like any social event you’ve attended in your life. We’re not so much about leveraging business contacts as we are getting to know each other. Leave your credentials behind and talk about your hobbies instead.
  4. If you’re hired, you’ll have many bosses. Any member can become your boss at any moment. There’s no use in sucking up to one person and ignoring the rest. It won’t get you anywhere.

Stay tuned for more crib notes on how to land this internship. If you’ve just come across this and WANT to be a Cohere intern, let me know why.

Image credit: maveric2003

Coworking is Not a Frat House (and the Evidence to Prove It)

There is one particular stereotype about coworking that bothers me. It’s the hackneyed idea that a coworking space is simply a “frat house,” “romper room,” or “social hour” for freelancers and independents.

Yikes. How totally inaccurate that stereotype is.

Not only is the success and level of productivity at Cohere anecdotal evidence of why this myth is untrue, but there’s also hard data to make the case.

Deskmag.com coworking survey

The Evidence

You may have already seen the recent global coworking survey—the first of its kind, seeking to gather data about coworkers and coworking space owners. Deskmag is digging into the survey data and sharing insights about many aspects of coworking. (See the end of the post for links to the Deskmag articles.)

Here are some relevant stats from the survey that dispel the “frat house” myth that often informs stereotypes people have about coworking spaces:

  • Connections: 43% of respondents reported meeting one to three helpful acquaintances within a two-month period, while another 43% have found four or more such connections
  • Income: 25% of all coworkers indicated that they earned more than the national average income
  • Motivation: 85% of respondents are more motivated and have better interaction with other people since moving into a coworking space
  • Teamwork: 57% now work in teams more often
  • Work/life balance: 60% organize their working day better so they can relax more at home

These stats don’t show unmotivated nor unsuccessful freelancers. Coworking isn’t a rowdy frat house.

Community…and Work-Life Balance

The coworking survey reveals that one of the big draws to coworking is the community and collaboration that happens in a coworking space. And “community” doesn’t translate into “frat house” or “social hour.” On the contrary, one of the most powerful aspects of coworking community is to connect with other people while giving—and receiving—value and benefits.

While there are moments or afternoons that feel more “social” at Cohere—for example, when coworkers share funny stories, start a room-wide conversation, or head out to grab a mid-afternoon snack—it’s those moments that make the Cohere community what it is: a place for work AND social productivity—a place for a balanced work life.

If you want to read more insights from the survey, check out:
Part 1 – 1st Global Coworking Study: What Coworkers Want
Part 2 – 1st Global Coworking Study: The Coworker’s Profile
Part 3 – 1st Global Coworking Study: The Coworking Spaces
Part 4 – 1st Global Coworking Study: Female Coworker vs. Male Coworker

Image Credit: Deskmag

How Coworking and Community Translate into Dollars

Money - Jeff Belmonte

“Coworking” isn’t just a buzzword, although I may be preaching to the choir if you’re reading this blog. While the idea of sharing office space isn’t new, the idea of purposefully building a community of independent workers in a workspace—in other words, coworking—is growing like gangbusters. Many people recognize various benefits of coworking (such as the chance to get out of the house/cafe or to meet other creative professionals).

But a key aspect of coworking that is sometimes overlooked is the way coworking can boost income (for independents) and stimulate the economy (in a local area).

Coworking helps freelancers and independents make more money.

The first global coworking survey was recently completed, and more than 600 people from 24 countries participated. The results confirmed what many of us already experience in coworking: it’s a collaborative and community-oriented space that helps independents genuinely grow their business. As many coworking blogs have highlighted from the survey, 42% of survey respondents reported earning more money after joining a coworking space. And more than half said they work in teams more often since joining a coworking space.

Coworking helps the local economy.

The various ways that independents, freelancers and small business owners help boost and sustain a local economy can hardly be covered in a bullet point (I’ll save that discussion for another post, perhaps). But it’s true: a coworking space can help its local community’s economy. A soon-to-be coworking space in Portland originated from a developer’s need to creatively solve certain economic challenges in his industry. When Peter Bass, the developer, learned about coworking, he also saw the importance of community. “‘We’re trying to build a community,’ Bass said, ‘not just a place to go to work.’”

When it comes down to it, coworking isn’t about plopping together a bunch of laptop-toting freelancers under one roof. Coworking is about community. And “community” isn’t just a fuzzy, feel-good term: it’s critical to a thriving coworking space. For proof, see how often “community” is mentioned by coworkers, freelancers and entrepreneurs at coworking space New Work City in this video.

I’m curious… whether you’re a coworker or coworking space owner, have you witnessed other ways in which the coworking community has boosted income or the economy? Leave me a comment below!

Image Credit: Flickr – Jeff Belmonte

Why Problem-Solving in Groups is Useful in Coworking

Group of people working

A story on NPR’s program All Things Considered talks about coworking. Okay. Not quite. But it does discuss one of the key components of successful coworking: collaboration.

Key in NPR’s study was the point that equal participation in problem-solving fostered more innovative solutions. The research points to why and how getting a group of people together to solve a problem is not so much about getting the “smartest” people together, but instead is about equal participation and multiple perspectives from people in the group.

A group of people. Equal participation and multiple perspectives. Hm…that sounds a lot like coworking.

Taking a cue from the NPR story, here are some ways problem-solving in groups might be useful in coworking:

  • You—the coworker—have a challenge in your work.
    Can your coworkers help you overcome a client/work challenge? This is especially effective if you ask nicely.
  • You—the coworking space catalyst—have a challenge in your space.
    Can the coworking community help you brainstorm solutions to that challenge? Or can you hop on the Coworking Google Group to ask your online coworking community for ideas?
  • You—the coworker OR coworking space catalyst—have a challenge in your local community.
    Can coworkers go beyond their coworking space walls and contribute their smarts to a local challenge? This, of course, requires extra time and energy beyond work. But you never know what sorts of beneficial connections could be made in the local community (perhaps resulting in new clients, new work, new ideas!).
  • You—the interesting person.
    Sometimes, it’s simply about getting interesting people together to see what interesting things they come up with. (And if that sounds vague—it should! The possibilities are as limitless when it comes to grouping together independent, creative, community-oriented coworkers.)

Although coworkers tend to be highly independent individuals, problem-solving in groups is where the real magic happens in coworking. This type of problem-solving has so many advantages—seen, for example, in the rise of collaborative consumption. So try problem-solving in a group—and let us know how it goes.

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Image Credit: Flickr – Peter Samis

Collaborative Consumption and the Coworking Community

“Collaborative consumption” is a new phrase that has entered our business and social lexicon. It signals the way some people are changing their consumption habits away from individual consumption and toward a focus on trading, sharing, bartering and lending within a community. And it’s happening in coworking.

What's Mine Is Yours on CollaborativeConsumption.com

Infographic on CollaborativeConsumption.com

In thinking about how coworking relates to collaborative consumption, it’s no question that coworking fosters the kind of atmosphere that allows for—and encourages—sharing and trading. As described on the about page of the Global Coworking Blog:

Beyond just creating better places to work, coworking spaces are built around the idea of community-building and sustainability. Coworking spaces agree to uphold the values set forth by those who developed the concept in the first place: collaboration, community, sustainability, openness, and accessibility.

Collaborative consumption is all about community and sustainability. Coworking is also about community and sustainability.

To make this idea of collaborative consumption a bit more tangible, following are some examples you may have heard of or used:

  • Superfluid – allows people to collaborate by trading favors using “virtual currency”—in essence, bartering
  • Zopa and CommunityLend – social lending
  • Airbnb – a “community marketplace for unique spaces”
  • Freecycle – a place to give and find stuff for free
  • ZipCar – carsharing
  • CouchSurfing – allows travelers to make connections with people, and rooms/couches, in the area they’re visiting
  • Swap – swap books, CDs, movies and video games
  • B-Cycle – bike sharing system
  • Hyperlocavore – a yardsharing community

So, how might collaborative consumption happen in a coworking community?

  • Trading skills/expertise with another member for mutual benefit (for example, a graphic designer creates a logo in exchange for a fellow copywriter creating newsletter content)
  • Sharing resources (for example, several coworkers may pool their collective buying power to get lower rates at a local gym)
  • Exchanging ideas (though collaborative consumption focuses mostly on products and services, brainstorming and ideating are still valuable “commodities”)

A recent post on the Global Coworking Blog highlights some of the ways that sharing and trading happens amongst coworkers.  And another post discusses several of the ways that coworking can save a small business—including bartering and brainstorming.

Of course, this is not to say that sharing and trading are the be-all, end-all to community and economy; we all still have bills to pay and cold hard cash to tender. But this shift in thinking seems like it’s here to stay.

If this topic piques your interest, check out these insightful reads about collaborative consumption:
Infographic – GOOD.is: Sharing is Contagious
Article – Inc.com: Understanding the Consumer of the Future
Book – What’s Mine is Yours: The Rise of Collaborative Consumption
Book – The Mesh: Why the Future of Business Sharing

Have you shared your resources or skills with others at Cohere? What about this “collaborative consumption” worked? What didn’t work?

“Maximizing Synergy and Backward Revenue Streams”

The Cohere Coworking Community is a verbal group. We enjoy a good conversation about words. Let’s discuss one.

Synergy might be the most overused word right now behind the recently revived “D*****bag.”  I get annoyed with the word synergy because people use it for everything.  “I’m going to synergize my workout by adding weights.”  “Let’s get some synergy going at lunch today.”  “That D-bag totally ruined the synergy we talked about.”  None of these phrases makes any sense.

What is synergy?

Screw the dictionary.com and wikipedia definitions and let’s get back to an example that we can relate to.  The best use of synergy is when the ghostbusters cross the streams of their proton packs to destroy Gozer.  Initially, the ghostbusters thought that crossing streams would be detrimental.  Similarly, many business people shy away from joining networking groups where other people in their same profession are members.  This is lame and a totally unrealistic and unproductive way to approach business.  Don’t avoid crossing streams with people in the same field as you.  Who knows, if you cross streams with similar people, you’ll be able to destroy a demon from a parallel universe.  Don’t discount the magic that can happen through co-opetition.

The intersection of ideas and passion between like minded people is where the true synergy happens.  Synergy: working with others to achieve more together than you could alone.

Please give some critical thought to the word synergy and let’s clean it up a bit so that it can get its meaning back.

3 Coworking Benefits for the Entire Family

Guest post from a member’s husband. Cohere Coworking Community has far reaching benefits beyond what individual members gain from the experience of coworking.

Since my wife has started coworking at Cohere it has unexpectedly improved my life in a few ways, and it has nothing to do with additional income.  It has increased the quality of our life here at home, making me a huge fan.  Not that we want to get rid of her, but we are thrilled that she is coworking!  Here’s why:

1. Quality one-on-one time with the kids

I work all day and have few quality moments with my boys during the week.   I get home during the chaos of dinner and bedtime routines.  On coworking nights, my boys and I set up the living room like a movie theater, turn off all of the lights and wrap up with blankets and popcorn.  We watch fun movies and eat candy that my wife probably wouldn’t let them eat during the day.  We call this “Boy’s Party” and it’s the highlight of our week.

2. Decreases guilt/increases balance for personal activities

I am an avid fly fisherman and the river is my sanctuary.  Being able to get out with my flyrod is really important and recharges me.  With my wife having a dedicated night for coworking, I’ve been able to have a dedicated fishing night.  It’s a great balance and we don’t feel guilty for having our own personal interests.

3. Moments of peace and quiet

On the nights that my wife coworks, after the kids are in bed, the house is silent.  There’s nobody to talk to, there’s nothing to think about.  It’s a treasured moment of true peace and silence, which is much needed after a long day at work.  It’s quite relaxing and restful – everyone should have a few moments to themselves to decompress.

You’d think that with our busy life and day’s full of activities that my wife leaving for night coworking once a week would be taxing, but it’s not.  It actually helps us balance some important aspects of all of our lives.

Moms: Try out a Free Day Pass for night coworking every Wednesday night between 4pm-10pm. BYOWine/Beer if you need it!

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