Why You Shouldn’t Join a Giant Coworking Space

When it comes to choosing a coworking space anywhere in the world–GO SMALL. Cohere started as a 1,000 square foot space in Old Town Fort Collins with 12 work stations, a conference room and a “one-butt kitchen.” That wee space afforded us so many benefits that I didn’t even realize would become the backbone of Cohere all these years later.

We have since grown a little–like a kid whose pants inevitably creep up their shins over time but we’re the right kind of awkward.

It’s easy to fall for the big box coworking tactic of “JOIN OUR GIANT CONGLOMERATE OF 2,000 WORLDWIDE SPACES WITH 2 MILLION MEMBERS!!” The possible potential there seems SO attractive because ALL THE PEOPLE!!! But it has no real basis in the actual capacity of the human brain to hold relationships and the time it takes to make a new friend. Also, who REALLY travels to only the cities where their coworking chain has locations?

There are practical reasons for joining a small coworking space and here they are in no particular order:

Dunbar’s Number: there’s a limit to how many relationships the human brain can keep track of and it’s 150. So when you add in your family and existing friends and associates, it’s easy to see how joining a coworking space with 300 members could quickly become problematic. Joining a giant community of coworking members seems great on paper until you realize that you will only be able to get to know maybe 30-50 of them before your brain will tap out.

This number also turns social media into a sham pretty quickly. While you may feel great that you have 2,000 Facebook friends, I bet you only care what 20 of them are saying. Read #2 on this article on friendship.

Strive to locate a coworking space that has less than 100 members. Because most members are part time, your community manager should be able to tell you what percentage of their membership shows up on a regular basis (it’s probably around 30%) so then you can do some fast math to determine if it’s a community of the right size for your frontal lobe. It’s these regular members who you will end up getting to know the best and the fastest because of…

How Long It Takes To Make a New Friend:  In a pretty great recent study they found it “takes between 40 and 60 hours to form a casual friendship, 80-100 hours to transition to being a friend and more than 200 hours together to become good friends.” By this math, if you join and attend your coworking space full time with say 5 other full time people, you can expect to feel friendly with them after just a couple of weeks. This hour count is why people tend to befriend their coworkers in traditional companies. Time spent together=a better chance of becoming friends.

A member of Cohere had to move to a big city and joined a giant coworking space. She said it was awful because she’d meet someone cool one day and then never be able to find them again in the massive work space. She ultimately opted for a small boutique coworking space where she could reasonably expect to see the same group of people each week.

You’re a busy person and the last thing you need to be worried about in your coworking space is how long you’re going to have to wander the halls looking for your “people.”

Small Spaces Can Be Run By One Person: This means the community manager knows everyone really well so if you find yourself floundering for a connection or resource, you can simply ask her for help and she can point you in the right direction. The level of community support and connection that I can offer the Coherians is more in-depth and complete than a space that has to spread this responsibility over several people. Cohere is small enough that I can pay attention to everyone as well as everything that’s happening online so my ability to make connections is accelerated because I don’t have to store every interaction in a CRM.

If we go back to Dunbar’s Number we realize that number would apply to community managers as well. WE can only hold 150 relationships at a a time as well so if the coworking community grows over 100 (we still needs slots available for family etc), we’d start to struggle to keep everyone’s details and preferences in mind.

As of writing this there are 98 Coherians. We’d like you to be #99. Take a chance and schedule a tour.

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