Humanity through pants by @_achiang

Cohere member Alex Chiang circa 1996

When I left $GIANTSOULSUCKINGMEGACORP for a kinder, gentler startup, one of the perqs I was most anticipating was workingfrom my home office all the time. There are few things more enjoyable in life than a gentle breeze wafting through the mesh of a Herman Miller Aeron chair, cooling your nether regions while you write exquisite, elegant code.

I mean, let’s face it — your home is your castle, and if the king doesn’t want to wear pants, well, it’s good to be the king.  For the first few months, I reveled in the glory of the home office: a 10-second commute, bacon and coffee on demand, and I’d never miss the FedEx guy again.  But a funny thing happened on the way to the insane asylum. I found myself compulsively ordering completely useless tchotchkes from Amazon just so I could talk to the FedEx guy, who was becoming increasingly nervous about coming to my door, even after we both agreed on a pants policy.

I was discovering that extended periods of time cut off from outside human contact made Alex something something. It was about this time that my colleage, Paul Hummer, mentioned this rad group of people at his coworking space, Cohere. At first, I was mildly surprised that my beloved cow town of Fort Collins was progressive enough to support a real live coworking space. But then I remembered that everyone here drinks two quarts of jawesome juice for breakfast every morning and thought to myself, “of course Fort Collins must have a coworking space; something sweet must have happened by now and I’m missing out on it!”

I tagged along with Paul for one visit and I was hooked. Here was a self-selected group of savvy, motivated, and let’s be honest — just darn attractive people — with a diversity of talent and a shared love of lolcats. A chorus of O HAIs! greeted me and I knew that Cohere was my cure for the subterranean stircrazy blues brought by a basement office. The synergies are subtle for me; I’m a computer plumber, after all, a low level bit banger who still insists on 80-column text terminals for email. Unfortunately, computing plumbing abstractions leak from time to time. The coworkers at Cohere cover a diverse swath of backgrounds, but they all tend to be sophisticated technology mavens, and observing them cope with broken software is like being in the world’s greatest real-time useability lab. So it works. And in return, they put up with my strange obsession of the platypus.

My company’s flagship product, Ubuntu Linux, is named for a Bantu word meaning “humanity towards others”. Archbishop Desmond Tutu said of it: We think of ourselves far too frequently as just individuals, separated from one another, whereas you are connected and what you do affects the whole world. When you do well, it spreads out; it is for the whole of humanity.

To me, that captures the essence of coworking and Cohere. Freelancer or not, you can’t work well all by yourself. You owe it to yourself to plug into a community, leaving it better than when you found it, and maximizing yourself both professionally and personally in the process. We’ve got a great community at Cohere. Come check it out. We’ll leave the wifi on for you.

Read more of Alex’s musings on twitter and his blog.

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