They have seen the future of coworking, and the peaches are fantastic. Fresh from the Global Coworking Un-Conference in New York City, Workbar’s founder/CEO (and two Workbar Space and Community Managers) got to look at the new horizons of coworking and also show the world how they do it in Boston. The GCUC (pronounced “Juicy”) brought together the world’s largest international cross-section of the coworking industry to shape its evolution through – appropriately enough – collaborating, connecting, and networking. It might have been a pun or plain delicious, but there were also plenty of juicy peaches.
Have you noticed how it’s just called “coworking” now? Anyone who has been following the “trend of coworking”, or the “phenomenon of coworking,” might notice how the qualifiers ahead of the word have fallen out of use. As coworking spaces grow internationally and the new ways of working become the norm, it seems coworking needs less of an introduction. While the stats on the rapid growth of coworking make for attractive hockey-stick graphs, the recent flourish of niche coworking spaces tells a more human tale than the numbers do. From motorcycle-centric coworking spaces to women’s only spaces, to BMW-sponsored maker/hacker coworking spaces, what began as a simple real estate play a few years ago has evolved into a mature, nuanced ecosystem. Even established business, such as hotels, are finding ways to redesign their under-used space into thriving coworking space.
The rise of coworking has been a boon to the breed of professional known as the Digital Nomad, and on display at the GCUC was the world-wide range of workspace possibilities available to them and their de rigueur office-in-a-backpack. There are several networks (and even a “League”) of extraordinary coworking spaces, as well as a Trip Advisor-style site to rank them. From the other side of the world, the operators of the Hubud coworking space in Ubud, Bali drew praise and envy for planting coworking in paradise, while the makers of Jabbrrbox have moved coworking spaces as hyperlocal as a turtle’s shell, devising a phone booth-like alcove into which coworkers cocoon themselves wherever they want to work.
Exploring the health and wellness aspects of coworking, one discussion by the Harvard Divinity School looked at the parallels between how we work and how we worship. The ritual, the community, and the purpose-finding underpin the path of seekers in both camps, and coworking spaces that incorporate a spiritual element, such as St. Lydia’s in Brooklyn, are tapping into the hardwired ways that humans gather.
Further out on the coworking horizon, Google for Entrepreneurs is expanding its startup incubators around the world – with coworking spaces inside. That the tech giant would throw its weight behind coworking shows its impact on a startup’s success.
As a recursive wrap-up to the 360 degrees takes on coworking, the conference looked at how the spaces solicit and react to feedback from their members. From town halls and talking to surveys and tablets, the spaces need community members to drive them. Which might explain why Audi is introducing a kind of shared fleet to a few select coworking communities: a status symbol and a sure sign you’ve arrived.