Scary economic times bode well for coworking

Cats know to look up in a down economy.

Cats know to look up in a down economy.

Hard as it is to believe, all this economic turmoil does have some bright spots. For one, sustainable industries like those I cover for Sustainable Industries will

likely thrive because anything “green” that replaces a less-sustainable and necessary product (think clean energy and electric cars) is positioned to do well in a tanking economy. Another bright spot in the economic doom and gloom could very well be coworking spaces such as Office Nomads and other similar “crowd-sourced” ventures.

I caught wind of the possibility from the Launchpad Coworking blog where they wrote about a column at O’Reilly Radar discussing just that. Writer Nat Torkington lays out his thoughts about what kinds of ideas and efforts will succeed because there is an economic crisis. Torington says he thinks cloud computing, open-source software, innovation in general and coworking will flourish during the recession because there is a recession.

People will have more time than money. This is good for open source software, but also for hardware and Make-style reconnection with the objects around us. The low-cost high-impact physical events we’ve created (Ignite, hacker meetups, coworking spaces, foo/bar camps) will thrive even as big-ticket conferences feel the effects of pinched pennies. The killer app in the “web meets world” space may just come from a Maker with spare time who sees a great need.

Covering sustainability, that doesn’t surprise me. As a writer, I talk to people in lots of different sectors. Those in the world of sustainability know what coworking is much more often than those in other industries with the possible exception of software and web developers. Considering that, if you believe the premise, “This recession will be good for innovation because recessions generally are,” as Torkington does, it’s only a short hop to believing that the innovators who tend to populate coworking spaces such as Office Nomads will lead the way to the next economic boom. Here’s hoping that as we do it, we’re all smart enough to build it on a stable infrastructure and not just create the next bubble.

I couldn’t help but use the first image I found when searching Flickr for “Looking Up” since I am a sucker for cats. Thanks to Flickr user ex.libris for putting it there under the Creative Commons license.

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