An interesting topic came up last week on the Minnesota Voices Online (MVO) list. One member was considering the value of a community coworking center.
This term or use of coworking was new to me. It’s a center where workers (consultants, remote workers, even job seekers I suspect) can go to work. Here’s the definition from Wikipedia…
Coworking is a style of work which involves a shared working environment, sometimes an office yet independent activity. Unlike in a typical office environment, those coworking are usually not employed by the same organization. Typically it is attractive to work-at-home professionals, independent contractors, or people who travel frequently who end up working in relative isolation. Coworking is the social gathering of a group of people, who are still working independently, but who share values, and who are interested in the synergy that can happen from working with talented people in the same space.
To me it sounds like a hybrid micro-mini business incubator and coffee shop. Apparently there are a couple in the Twin Cities, Crema Café, which from the web site has a definite coffee shop feel and CoCo and The 3rd Place, which both have more of a business incubator feel. Here’s the welcome from The 3rd Place that sort of indicates the feel…
Not home or work, but a third place where entrepreneurs and creatives congregate and collaborate.
It also appears to be a place where the Internet connection is good, there’s a meeting room and they have occasional events. Having spent many long days in coffee shops, often drinking way too much Diet Coke just to feel like I’ve earned my space, I think this is a great idea. Like the role of the library highlighted in the recent US IMPACT research, access to good broadband would only be one reason I’d hang out in a coworking shop. A friendly-businesslike culture would be just as appealing. Add a place to buy stamps and receive the occasional fax and this could be my home-away-from-home office.
It’s an interesting take on how broadband can build local community.
It has also been interesting to follow the banter on the MVO list on the costs of setting up a community coworking center – starting with the cost of broadband. Many of us are OK with the reliability of DSL or cable for our home offices – but do we need or expect more from a coworking center – and why does fiber cost so much? (You can follow these topics too, if you’re interested.) I just wanted to introduce the idea and point out a few apparently successful coworking sites – because, as my dad says, it might be the perfect get rich slow scheme for some communities who need a way to support, promote and attract small businesses and entrepreneurs. Those of us who can work anywhere love the idea of working by the lake – on a practical basis a coworking center would helpful at least a few days a week