Coworking: The Wave of the Future?

Not everybody is lucky enough to snag a coveted place at the Wieden+Kennedy ad table. However, that doesn’t mean that you aren’t smart or creative enough to make something that the WK folk drool over in the same way they’re drooling over John Jay’s Garage.

The problem is, though, that in this business it’s tough to go it all alone. This is one of the reasons that co-working has become so popular.

For the uninitiated, co-working is where people from all manner of different disciplines purchase or rent space in a giant open environment and use that space as a home base for their business efforts. It’s a way of staying independent while putting yourself in a creative and entrepreneurial environment.

Portland is filled with coworking spaces. In some, everybody works at open desks in the same big room. In others people are separated out in cubicles.  There are even a few that will rent out private offices (the catch: you usually have to furnish it yourself—it’s a good thing you can find affordable office desks online these days). Whether you keep the door to your office open or shut is up to you.

Surprisingly only half of the people who take advantage of coworking environments are freelancers. Even bigger companies are getting in on the coworking act, allowing employees to take advantage of corporately purchased or rented coworking space instead of forcing them to stay put in the company’s offices. This is especially helpful for professionals who travel and don’t want to get stuck in a hotel’s business office (there are no suckier fax machines than those in a hotel business office). Companies like Google and Twitter use Regus locations. A local company might use something locally based.

According to the Global Coworking Study of 2012 (published in DeskMag), 71% of the people who take advantage of coworking spaces see a boost in their creativity.  What’s really interesting about this is that for those spaces that are available to renters round the clock only 30% of renters chose to work during “normal” business hours.

Imagine that: you’re stuck on an idea at 2 AM and there are other people there to spitball and brainstorm with to help you get out of it (provided they’re friendly).

Perhaps the most interesting statistic to come out of the study, though, is that more than sixty percent of people who take advantage of coworking opportunities found their own standards of excellence improving.  This is a fancy stats way of saying that “meh, good enough” was harder to do when working at a coworking space than when working completely alone.

So what does this mean for you and your productivity? It means you should probably start talking to your boss about getting out of the office and into a coworking space. The independent but still social and cooperative environment will boost your creativity and standards and will help you do a better job for your clients. What boss wouldn’t want that?

This is a guest post



About Shawn Hartley

Creative technologist by day. VP at Corporate 3 Design in Omaha. Proud father and husband.