The Impact of Coworking

The Impact of Coworking
The Impact of Coworking

What is coworking?

Here is Brad Neuberg’s original conception (this blog post represents the first public expression of the term as it is used today), which we think captures the spirit as well as any other definitions out there:

Traditionally, society forces us to choose between working at home for ourselves or working at an office for a company. If we work at a traditional 9 to 5 company job, we get community and structure, but lose freedom and the ability to control our own lives. If we work for ourselves at home, we gain independence but suffer loneliness and bad habits from not being surrounded by a work community.   

Coworking is a solution to this problem. In coworking, independent writers, programmers, and creators come together in community a few days a week. Coworking provides the “office” of a traditional corporate job, but in a very unique way.

Here’s one of our favorite definitions, from Coworking.com, managed by a team of coworking space managers and owners who have been central to the coworking movement from its early days: 

The idea is simple: that independent professionals and those with workplace flexibility work better together than they do alone. Coworking answers the question that so many face when working from home: “Why isn’t this as fun as I thought it would be?” 

Beyond just creating better places to work, coworking spaces are built around the idea of community-building and sustainability. Coworking spaces uphold the values set forth by those who developed the concept in the first place: collaboration, community, sustainability, openness, and accessibility.

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How was coworking born? 

Some think that coworking is inspired by the artist’s studios of the beginning of the 20th century. Indeed somdther and work alone or together. These places were created to improve creativity by meeting inspiring peoples, and to make an economy by sharing the cost with others. 
The aim of these places was almost the same as coworking spaces as we know them today.
It’s in Silicon Valley in 2005 that the concept of these collaborative workspaces really took off, with the creation of the first « real » coworking space in San Francisco by Brad Neuberg (at least in name, though there were several similar spaces that didn’t use the coworking moniker that began the same year in other places).
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Why join a coworking space?

Coworking spaces offer dynamic locations of exchange and sharing. Freelancers, entrepreneurs, and creatives from diverse fields enlarge your network, but more importantly serve as a resource of experience and knowledge and potential collaboration or inspiration. For many members, however, the most important benefit is purely the positive social energy. Members often feel more motivated surrounded by other focused, hard-working members. 

One of the biggest benefits is improved work-life balance. Location-independent professionals often work from home or from cafes and face one of two common challenges. Either they spend too much time alone and miss the social proximity and social connections they used to have before they were independent OR they have a partner or children at home and have difficulty explaining to their partner or kids that they really do need to work even though it’s true that they set their own schedule.

Most coworking spaces also organize events that help facilitate both the social relationships, motivation, and professional development. Locus, for example, organizes weekly coffee breaks and lunches, and monthly pub nights and game nights to facilitate meaningful social connections. For motivation, Locus hosts weekly Work Jams, where members sit together at the same table and use a timer to work together for a half day with planned breaks, and weekly critique-free writing meetups to help provide a sacred time and place, and positive social energy, for focused writing. 

Coworking spaces promote sustainability as key players in the sharing economy. They allow members to dramatically reduce commute times because they are often located in the neighborhoods where their members work, and they reduce operation costs and startup time by providing great office infrastructure to members who could never justify having meeting rooms, data projectors and other high-quality office equipment in central locations if that space was not shared among many other location-independent professionals. 

Many coworking spaces also serve as a kind of landing zone, helping to connect global and local. About 70% of Locus’s members, for example, come from countries other than the Czech Republic (nearly 30 different countries), with the language of the space being English. This allows newcomers to Prague a ready way to form a community with other people like them, and also with English-speaking Czechs who are welcoming to an international community and reading to share local knowledge. Czech members, who make up about 30% of Locus’s members, get the complementary benefit of ready access to a friendly international community and a workplace where they can practice their English on a daily basis.

Finally, coworking spaces simply offer convenience and accessibility. Coworking spaces have become so widespread that as long as you live in a large city they will often have options that are centrally located OR in your neighborhood, with 24 hours a day, 7 day a week access, and with membership plans that meet your particular needs. Locus, for example, is in both a central location and one of the most prized residential neighborhoods in Prague, Vinohrady. It offers all members smart-phone based access 24/7, 365 days a year, and has membership options from as little as one day per month to unlimited use. For the many members who travel abroad but would still like a reliable office in Prague, there are options to put your membership on hold for up to a year. And for members who already have a full-time day job but want to start their solo career, there’s an Evenings & Weekends option.

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Some statistics about the impacts of coworking 

According to global research by Deskmag and Deskwanted:
  • 74% of coworkers are more productive,
  • 86% have a larger business network,
  • 93% have a bigger social network,
  • Over two-thirds feel more creative and collaborate more on projects
  • A third reported an increase in income.

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Still not convinced?

Come and try a day of coworking for free at Locus Workspace

Sources

https://www.business.com/articles/coworking-74-of-coworkers-are-more-productive/
http://codinginparadise.org/weblog/2005/08/coworking-community-for-developers-who.html
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coworking

The C in Coworking Space Also Stands for Community

We’re excited to be “syndicating” a blog post from Robin Terrell’s amazing blog on the future of work (with a particular emphasis on the location-independent variety): The Global Mobile Worker. This post in particular was meaningful to us because it’s about the meaning of community, and in particular the community Robin found (and helped create! – Thanks, Robin!) at Locus.

Along with creating this blog and being a member of Locus, Robin is a Berkeley-educated lawyer, a writer (her book, Two Broke Chicasa travelogue about her adventures traveling around Central & South America, Mexico, and Cuba with her partner–is available on Amazon), a technology / startup junkie, a proud Amazon employee.

We’re excited to be able to share her blog post here…

wordgram-of-cowork
When I first arrived in town I used Meetup to find people who shared common interest. That led me straight to Locus Coworking space. Once in the door, I quickly connected with both the startup community and the writing community, common members of co-working spaces. It has been almost three years now and although I never signed up to co-work at Locus, I realized that I spent time in one of the two spaces at least once a week.
When my new job took me away from Prague for months, my homecoming included reconnecting with my friends at Locus. I write every Saturday with a dedicated group, committed to various forms of media that involve the written word. We have bloggers, and novelists, and game script writers, and PhD students writing a thesis. We come from different countries, different generations, different genders. Our bond is a long-term fascination with words on a page.
It was through Locus that I joined my E-publishing Mastermind group that has single-handedly taken me from talking smack to preparing to upload my first ebook, Two Broke Chicas, a Travel Series, December 26th, just in time for people to use their Christmas gift cards and make their New Year’s Resolution to travel more. Mentor members, like successful sci-fi writer, Bill King, have made my dreams come true.
While plopped on a big fluffy couch to wait for the group to start, I realized how important Locus was to my social life, and sense of being, in Prague. What my virtual membership gave me access to, besides one day a month and access to my e-Publishing Mastermind group, was a community. A place I could belong with people who shared my passion for a flexible work life.

Community = Thrive

Just like we need a Tribe, we need a community. Research found that people who belong to a co-working space report levels of thriving that approach an average of 6 on a 7-point scale. This is at least a point higher than the average for employees who do their jobs in regular offices. Read more: Why People Thrive in Coworking Spaces
infographic-co-work
Grind, is a growing network of coworking spaces in New York and Chicago. Community manager, Anthony Marinos, shared, “When it comes to cultivating our community at Grind, we’re all about the human element. We consider ourselves as much a hospitality company as we do a workspace provider. Our staff knows all of our members by name and profession, and we’re constantly facilitating introductions between Grindists.”
Research in Forbes magazine showed that entrepreneurs with larger and more diverse networks grow their businesses bigger.Co-working spaces can be a place for women, known for being great communicators and collaborators, who don’t excel at building power networks can find a safe space to start. (Women tend to build deep and narrow networks women-networkwhile men wide and shallow ones.) I’ve added several women to my network from Locus, and started an informal dinner group to encourage young professional women to support each other, over a glass of wine.

Building Intentional Communities

Some experts believe that co-working space should be built more like intentional communities. Example, Brooklyn’s Friends Work Here. Founded by NYC-based Swiss-born designer and entrepreneur Tina Roth-Eisenberg, who’s also behind the international lecture series CreativeMornings (which happens monthly in Prague, but mostly in Czech) and Tattly. The space came as a response to Roth-Eisenberg’s negative experiences in “soulless” coworking places that are more focused on making money than cultivating inspiration among its members.

A Wealth of Human Resources

Locus is how I found my brief dog-sitting gig. I enjoyed several days of pretending to own a dog, forced to take several walks every day, which did wonders for my mental health. I’ve enjoyed people passing through town and people here for the duration, like my friend Sarah who first came when it was Czechslovakia, and still communist. She is at heart a historian, writes historical fiction, and loves talking about the history of this country she calls home, as a well-informed outsider.
It was hysterical and inspiring to sit in on Texas Holdem’ Poker night, where people from around the world turned into ruthless gamblers who might gut you for a pair of Ace. It was motivational to listen to Regina and Mike talk about becoming Courageously Free, and through that relationship I was interviewed for their podcast – which should be out just in time for my book launch.
There were people at Locus doing, looking for, thinking about the exact same things as I was. We all wanted to marry our fascination with social media and our passion for words. I could pick the brains of people who, like me, were inspired by Prague, determined to make their literary dreams come true. We figured out all kinds of ways to make money with words. My critique and Saturday writing buddy, Beth Green, will fix your words for a fee. Which still leaves her time to search for an agent for her first novel, represent on Booklust and @bethverde, and be a Wanderlust columnist at thedisplacednation.com.
My writing group has sustained me, in ways both creatively and emotionally, over noodles and pivo at the Vietnamese restaurant down the street from Locus. We’ve discussed our lives and our loves, U.S. and European politics and the meaning of feminism.
We’ve shared critique groups and book front-cover
launches, like Sonya’s soiree for Under a Caged Sky, held at Locus Slezka, where we toasted with glasses of wine under the skylight, with Prague as the backdrop.

Staying Engaged

partyOnce I’d had that moment of realization, that my co-working space was my community, I started to look around for other ways to participate. Engaged in the social media connection and found easy, fun ways to stay involved. I am looking forward to the Christmas Party catered by Ethnocatering, a social enterprise of migrant women that serves authentic food from Georgia, Afghanistan, Belarus, Iran and Armenian. You can’t find this deliciousness in restaurants. I know, I said it, that bad M word. Well, I must own it because here in Prague, I’m a migrant. A tax paying, law abiding expat seeking shelter and new beginnings.
I know I’m not alone in this revelation and would love you to share your experience of finding community in co-working spaces. Tell us your story in the comment section here at the Global Mobile Worker Project.

Locus Member: Gerardo Robledillo

Name: Gerardo Robledillo
Hometown: Madrid, Spain
Occupation: Web Developer, Website Owner of International Schools Database and Expatistan.com


Gerardo is the owner and founder of International Schools Database, a website that helps relocating families find the right English-language schools for  their children, and Expatistan.com, a crowdsourced price comparison website that provides current information about the cost of living to both companies and the employees that they relocate.

Expatistan is a cost of living calculator that allows you to compare the cost of living between cities around the world. The comparisons allow you to get a better understanding of the cost of living of any city before you move there” (Expatistan.com). 

This database is compiled from information received from it’s users. The more data is entered, the more accurate and reliable the information is. Gerardo’s website is a unique and useful tool that arguably outperforms the best cost-of-living indexes otherwise available.

Gerardo Robledillo

Why did you choose to make your own website?


“At one point, I was moving a lot in a very short period of time, and I was working for other companies. They would offer me a salary, but I wouldn’t know if that was enough to sustain me in that city. There was nothing that was reliable for me to find online, so I built it myself.”


What is your favorite part about working for yourself?


“Freedom. I have much more freedom. Freedom of working when and where you want.”


What brought you to Prague?


I started working in Madrid right after university, but I was looking to go abroad. I have always traveled, but I have never lived abroad for a long time. I wanted something different and interesting, but not too different. Central and Eastern Europe was distant enough, yet close enough to home. The first offer I accepted was in Prague, and I loved the city so I remained here. I was briefly in Frankfurt, then I moved to Barcelona, and then I came back.”


How did you get into coworking?


“After two months of working at home it didn’t work as well [as I wanted]. I tried the library and cafes but it didn’t work that well either. I started sharing an office with a friend for a while, but it didn’t work. Then I found the concept of coworking, and it was the perfect balance: really nice office, interesting people, social benefits of an office without working at a big company, and freedom.”


How did you find Locus Workspace?


“I was looking for different coworking spaces and I tried locus because it was very close to my place. Will gave me the tour and I tried it, and it was perfect, so I stopped looking.”

What is your favorite part of the city?


“Vinohrady.”


What is one interesting fact about you?


“I love planes and flying.”


Interested in finding out how much it would cost to live somewhere else? Check out Gerardo’s website here.

If you would like to be featured on a Locus Workspace Member Monday in the future, contact Dani Crepeau at dcrepeau@bryant.edu.

Regional Accelerators and Incubators

Below is a list of some of the business accelerators and incubators in the Czech Republic and in nearby countries (or else ones that actively target Czech startups). This is a work in progress, so please help me keep the list current and accurate by sending me feedback or leaving comments!
The terms accelerator and incubator are sometimes used interchangeably and sometimes used differently from how I would use them, so take these classifications with a bit of skepticism. This overlap in usage and similarity in experience has me grouping the two together for this blog post.
For me here are the basic similarities and differences:

Similarities

Both accelerators and incubators provide shared work space and mentorship to startup businesses for a limited period of time (usually 3-6 months) to help startup businesses success. Both also tend to do this on a competitive basis, providing the space and support for free to the selected winners who are deemed to have the most potential.

Differences

Incubators

Incubators tend to be non-profit entities set up by regional governments, academic institutions, or other non-profit organizations with a mission to help support the startup environment. They generally have some kind of institutional support that allows them to provide the free work space and the mentorship. As such, incubators are not as firmly tied to either the limited time period or the competitive nature of acceptance. Some of them have relatively open acceptance based on university affiliation or some other general requirements, and many will not put strict limits on how long a startup can stay. Although they do not as a rule provide capital to the startups, some do, though usually without strings attached or any ownership stake in the company being incubated. Though acceptance may be in batches on a calendar schedule, it is often on a rolling basis as well.

Accelerators

Accelerators, on the other hand, tend to be for-profit entities. They provide free work space and mentorship AND INVESTMENT in exchange for a percentage of ownership in the company. For accelerators, the competitive nature of entry and the limited time period are essential features of the program. They are gambling on getting that next great startup that will compensate for the loss on most companies they accelerate. The investments tend to be small (5-25,000 USD) as does the percentage of ownereship (5-10%). Acceptance for accelerators tends to be on a set schedule, where all of the companies being accelerated will start and finish together, as would a class of students in the same cohort. Often accelerators will have stages with benchmarks, where additional help and funding will be possible as long as these benchmarks are met.
But again, this is my usage based on what I take to be the norms. I may not have it exactly right, and certainly many of the players in these industries mix the concepts as they see fit.
The list is organized geographically relative to Prague, since that’s where Locus Workspace and our members are located.

Prague

Czech Republic outside Prague

  • Help me add to this list!

CEE Region outside the Czech Republic

  • Urban Quest (added 2018.03.29), Warsaw, Poland. PropTech accelerator (Property / real-estate / space technology), sponsored by Skanska, Microsoft, and business__link.
  • hub:raum Krakow, Poland (also locations in Berlin & Tel Aviv). Has both an accelerator and an incubator program.
  • RubixLab Bratislava, Slovakia
  • CEE LiftOff Budapest, Hungary (website not working properly, may be ending)
  • PwC CEE Startup Collider Warsaw, Poland. FinTech focus. Seeking participants from all over the Central & Eastern Europe countries.

Crowdfunding Portals on the Czech Market

Below are a few crowdfunding portals on the Czech market. I’d like to keep the list current and have some details about each, so let me know if you know of any others or have any comments about the ones in the list. Specifically it would be nice to know their pros and cons and whether they have any particular industry focus.

  • Hithit (Czech, Slovak, English; as of 3 Oct 2015 seems to be the largest and best known)
  • startovač (Czech only)
  • kreativcisobě.cz (Czech only)
  • nakopni mě (Czech only)
  • Everfund (Czech-language only; as of 3 Oct 2015, new on the market)
  • Fundlift (still not launched as of 3 Oct 2015; claims to be first EQUITY crowdfunding platform on the Czech market)

No longer operating:

  • Fondomat.cz (no longer operating; may have been the first on the Czech market)