Meet Our New Community Cultivators!

With the addition of the first floor to Office Nomads, the team here was finding itself a bit stretched. It was impossible for one person at the front desk to greet folks walking in, give tours, answer members’ questions, and fight crime alone. It was time to expand the team.

We have found five spectacular individuals who now wear the hat of Community Cultivator. Christian, Veena, Mandy, Anisha, and Danielle take shifts making sure that Office Nomads continues to be positive and vibrant. One of them is usually sitting at the front tables ready to jump up and help should Chelsea or I need it.

I asked the five of them to give me a little blurb about themselves and, in the end, they worked together to write about each other. These folks are so seriously awesome.

Christian is pretty much Gandalf the Grey for small businesses and start-ups, and is easily recognizable by his most amazing gangster-meets-1920s mustache. Known to turn a tale, watch out for his story-telling spells…

Although allergic to just about everything, Veena is a creative genius and cooking mastermind (check her out at http://www.veenasmarket.com). Watch for her behind the wheel of an upcoming, most-nutritional food truck, feeding the city of Seattle one block at a time.

Mandy lives on a boat and – when not teaching English and correkting are grammer – daydreams of sailing up the coast to Alaska in search of the lost city of Atlantis.

Ergonomically optimized, Anisha and her team are innovating ways to turn human waste into biogas power source, to basically save the world. Like any respectable superhero, she is also designing the ultimate fashionable utility belt for women.

Smiley redhead Danielle is working hard to improve the lives of our senior citizens using modern technology and good old fashioned empathy. Listen up! Yer gonna be old one day, and you are gonna be really happy Danielle was thinking about you back in 2012!

Next time you walk into Office Nomads, one of these five folks will be sitting at the front table happy to greet you or share their great coworking wisdom.

First Time Coworking Memories

A few months back, Cohere in Fort Collins, CO asked its members to remember their first time coworking and wrote a fun blog post on their feedback. We here at Office Nomads were inspired and curious to see what our own members would say about their first time coworking. It should have been a memorable experience, right? We were hoping to hear that it was the best first date anyone had had. A beautiful start to a meaningful and wonderful relationship. Turns out, most people did feel that way.

All respondents were really happy that they had joined Office Nomads, many saying they wish it had happened to them sooner. For most, it was their first foray into coworking. “I love the community aspect of coworking and I find that I am much more productive in a laid back “office” environment than I am simply working from home,” John said.

Dana, self diagnosed with BSOS (Bright Shiny Object Syndrome), said, “I realized that the ability to sit down at a wide, clean ON desk is priceless.” With a number of distractions at home, Dana and others noted an increase in productivity while at ON.

While getting work done was important, most folks noted the community as making a huge impression. Georges loved the immediate vibe. “It feels kind of good to start seeing common faces in coworkers.” Michael said he loved how positive and friendly it was.

Veena said, “I felt intimidated actually. I’m naturally shy and I really felt it being the new person in a room full of people who seemingly knew each other.”

Veena had a great home office but her husband encouraged her to try Office Nomads. “I don’t remember too much (of my first day) except noting that Jacob and Susan were very welcoming. After a couple days as a member, I sprained my ankle. I didn’t come to Office Nomads for a few weeks. When I did return, everyone wanted to know why I didn’t come in for a long time! That’s when I realized how awesome the Office Nomads community was.”

Often when people start, they are intimidated by being in a new space and unsure of what is shared and not. Andy had a good laugh remembering his first time at Office Nomads. “My favorite memory was taking a few days to realize that dishes were, in fact, a shared resource. I remember using a glass for a drink and actually saying something to Jacob like, ‘I borrowed a glass from someone but I’ll be sure to wash it!’”

So, we asked, is there anything you wish you’d known before you tried coworking?

“How attractive ON members are?” was the most brilliant response. Apparently someone thinks we’re a good looking bunch, thankyouverymuch.

Veena was thrilled to learn that it wasn’t just for techies. “There were brown bag lunches and

happy hours. And that I’d meet really interesting people. These are all things that would have made me join much sooner.”

John just joined and is excited to meet all the Nomads and have a space to grow his new law firm. Dana, too, loves being around folks who work in fields different from her own and find a trip for a fresh cup of coffee to be a great time to meet someone new. One Nomad suggested new members attend the happy hours. “Who knows what joint projects or even companies will result. In the meantime, I’m getting work done, I’m happy because I’m part of a community and I have someplace to go when I need it.”

Sounds perfect to us.

Negotiating Your Coworking Membership with Your Boss

At Office Nomads, we like to suggest coworking as an alternative when “working from home isn’t working.” Too often though, individuals find themselves feeling as if there is no alternative from the isolation they feel in a home office or when working out of cafes because they can’t afford the cost of membership on their own. These folks are part of the growing number of remote workers who want to join a coworking community but don’t have the support from their employers to do it. So what do they do?

In May, Shareable.net had a great blog post on this very topic. A few of our Nomads chimed in and shared some fantastic insight. We decided to then pose the question to all our Nomads and see how they did it.

One idea that came from multiple people was based on simple math. Nancy Ward explained it well: “For anyone working from their home where the rest of their colleagues work in an office in another city, the answer is obvious. They pay for office space for those employees, why not you?”

Other people crunched the numbers for their own office space and presented their managers with the final tally of space, printer, internet access, furniture, etc. As a few Nomads put it, “It’s hard to argue with that math and makes it a “no-brainer.”

Colin Monaghan said that he used the diverse community as a negotiating point. “I mentioned all the different types of people working here, representing different

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skill sets and industries,” he said. With over 90 members in professions ranging from software to astrology, there’s always somebody in the space who can be a benefit to you and your work. “My employer saw this as an additional resource for the company as a whole, as I could learn and possibly even partner with some of these people.”

The most important and positive element that people gain from their time at coworking spaces though, is the productivity. Over and over again members said that was their number one negotiating point. For many in the at-home workforce there is a loss of definition between work time and home time. One employer understood the trouble one encounters when working from the couch. “The blurring of work hours and personal life usually start out benefitting work but ends up hurting it. … If the alternative is home-working then [employers] should recognize that the discipline required to work from home for extended periods is extremely rare.”

Most Nomads talked about distractions in the home or in the cafes where they used to work. It wasn’t a good fit because they needed a space that was dedicated to getting work done. Trevor Smith said that he pitched it to his employer by saying, “It’s a good idea because I can usually be more productive in my job when I’m not doing laundry and cleaning the kitchen.”

A few Nomads offered the approach of convincing your employer to try a trial period. Nancy said, “If the employer … thinks that working in front of the TV with cats all around you is good for productivity, suggest a Part Time 15 membership for a couple of months to prove how great the value proposition is.”

Whatever your tactic, remember that as each person gains something different from his or her membership with a coworking space the same goes for your company. So before you approach your boss about the potential of getting a membership, or even just part of one, paid for, take the time to think about how your it will also benefit the company. Will it increase your motivation? Would it give you a more stable connection to the Internet?

When it’s all said and done, this is just a business decision for your boss to make. Make sure you can provide all the facts and data and then ask. After all, it never hurts to ask.

Have you negotiated your membership? How did you do it?

How Do the Nomads Commute?

Before I worked at Office Nomads I worked down in SeaTac. My morning commute involved leaving my house at 5:45 AM to walk 25 minutes to downtown where I would grab my bus for the 45 minute ride. The end of my day usually involved a delayed bus and traffic, stretching the commute to close to 2 hours. The only thing I miss about that commute is the speed at which I was able to fly through books.

Now I work 11 blocks from home. Usually less than 30 minutes elapses from the time my alarm clock goes off and I’m walking in the door at Office Nomads. Working at Office Nomads has eliminated my horrendous commute.

Thinking about this, I became curious about the commutes that members have to Office Nomads. How are people getting here? How long does it take them? Are we really a neighborhood location?

Not surprisingly, people either walk, bike, drive or take the bus. Turns out, nobody drops in via parachute. What was surprising was that cars and bikes came out as the top modes of transport with each being used by 29% of Nomads. Seattle likes to talk about its growing bike culture. Seattle Bike Blog put it, “Of the 25 largest US cities, Seattle has the largest share of people commuting by bicycle.” That huge number of bike commuters? 3.6%. With 29% of our Nomads commuting by pedal power, our small community is acting as an example for others to follow.

Indeed, 29% do drive in. The neighborhoods from which these Nomads are coming are not easily connected to Capitol Hill via

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buses. While our neighborhood seems to be arranged to discourage cars, some of these Nomads have found well-priced parking lots and or ‘secret’ spots that make it easier for them. This then allows them the ability to pick up their kids or run those important errands on the way home.

When Susan first thought of opening a coworking space, she envisioned places to work within each of our neighborhoods. Stroll a few blocks from your front door and find yourself at work. It appears that 24% of our community is doing just that. One Nomad said, “It’s the perfect 20 minute walk: too short to be taxing even in the rain but long enough to let me stretch my legs. Also, good for both me and the environment.”

18% of the Nomads use the bus to come to Capitol Hill. Most of the bussing Nomads said it was easier to bus than drive. Many said they have the ability to drive in but have decided that the bus is the best option. William Do said, “It’s most convenient for me. I could drive but parking is expensive. I could bike, but I’m not into biking. I also walk part of the way, sometimes depending on how I feel, I’ll walk 3 to 4 miles at least part of the way from Office Nomads to get home.”

We may not be right around the corner from most of our Nomads but the majority take twenty minutes or less to be part of our community. That’s less time commuting than the national average of 25 minutes.

These sorts of numbers make me more excited about coworking. If more of us are biking or walking, does that mean we’re healthier? And if we are driving but our time in the car is less than the national average, are we happier? I think so. It’s evident in the way people talk about coming to Office Nomads or any other coworking community. And it all starts with how we get there.

 

Member Profile: Tali Edut

Tali Edut

Type of Member: Resident

Member Since: January 2011

Tali knew she should join Office Nomads because Jupiter, her ruling planet, was moving into the social house of her chart. She had been working from home and this seemed like the

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perfect time to find a place where she could work around others. Already, as a Sagittarius, she’s an extrovert and finds that she thrives on entrepreneurial energy and creative independent folks. “My favorite coffee shop turned into a bar so it was time to get a real desk, not just a booth. Plus, I was sick of smelling like espresso at the end of each day.”

So the Seattle half of the AstroTwins and AstroStyle found her way to Office Nomads. Tali works with her identical twin sister, Ophira, helping people style their lives by the stars. This involves one-on-one consultations and a ton of writing. Tali serves up free daily, weekly, and monthly horoscopes on her website Astrostyle.com. She is also the official astrologer for Elle.com, Victoria’s Secret Pink,

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people navigate their lives on THIS planet.

Creating empowering women’s media has been a common thread in Tali’s writing from the very start. At age 18, she won Sassy magazine’s Reader Produced Issue contest and was flown to

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NYC to help create an issue of the legendary teen publication under the direct guidance of Jane Pratt. She returned to the University of Michigan later that year and created her own magazine, HUES, which was a multicultural women’s magazine that also focused on healthy body image for women.

While working on HUES, she was introduced to astrology. “I like understanding the psychological motivations behind people; what makes them tick. Astrology is an intriguing way to get into the subconscious aspect of our own personality and understand the deeper aspects of ourselves.” Taking that passion and using her history in magazines, she has been able to build this “accidental career” in which she’s flourished.

We’re pretty happy to have Tali and her adorable dachshund, Wendell, at Office Nomads. Make sure to say hi next time you are here!

 

Member Profile: Chelsea McClain

Chelsea McClain

Membership Type: Part-Time 15

One of the newest Nomads, Chelsea McClain, is a true Jill of all trades. Actually, she’d probably make Jack blush with inadequacy.  That’s really the reason she’s here, too.  Jacob put out the call that we wanted somebody to help the Nomads with their own work.  Chelsea had the skills and saw it as a great way to utilize them. She has started at Office Nomads as a sort of all-purpose helper.  Bookkeeping, project management, picking up mail, and many other tasks are right up her alley.

But her skills don’t stop there.  Chelsea spends a few days a week here but fills the rest of her time with three other jobs.  On Mondays you can find her working the front desk at Dockside Co-op, a medical marijuana dispensary in Fremont.  She only has fantastic things to say about working there, especially how professionally run it is.

A serious passion of Chelsea’s is burlesque which she produces and performs here in Seattle.  Right now she’s preparing for the Burlesque Hall of Fame Competition in Las Vegas June 2nd – 5th. It’s a sort of a “burlesque Olympics” into which she was accepted with an act that fuses burlesque and contortion.  She spent her younger years as a dancer, primarily in African and ballet, but was inspired after seeing a burlesque show and has focused on that for the last three years.

When she gets home, work is not completely over.  Chelsea also has a small business for special occasion desserts. She flies under the flag of Radical Cakes and fights to liberate us from the belief that cake from a box is good enough. For years she has been making cakes, cupcakes, and pies for weddings, birthdays and other occasions.  Maybe we can convince her to use the Nomads as cake testers…

So look out for Chelsea.  She’s the one with the bright red hair, often seen strolling into the office wearing a helmet that looks like a watermelon.  She’s eager to help out Nomads in need. Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 10-3 she’ll be here. You can also contact her at Chelsea@officenomads.com.

 

Our Members Rock!

We really can’t love our Nomads anymore than we already do.  They always have fantastic projects brewing and are pretty inspiring folks.  We previously posted about some how awesome they are and here are a few more great examples.

  • Andy Hieb says that his company DTEK is always doing cool things. Of late, they built the new site for the World Affairs Council.  The site looks fantastic and the DTEK team is calling it their favorite. It’s loaded with great features and will be a great tool for The World Affairs Council to use to connect to the community.

 

  • Mike Kollins is the Chief Operating Officer for World Bicycle Relief.  He has just relocated from Kenya to Seattle and is one of our newest Resident members.  I’ll let Mike tell us about the great mission of WBR. “We are a large non-profit social enterprise.   We have distributed over 75,000 bicycles in the last 6 years and trained over 700 bicycle mechanics.  Instead of using recycled bicycles (which tend to break down given terrain and loads, and have no spare parts in rural Africa), we have designed a bicycle specifically for the markets we are active in.  We have three assembly factories in Africa (Kenya, Zimbabwe, Zambia) currently with over 60 local employees.   We produce between 1,000 and 3,000 bicycles per month.  Our current project is focussed on improving academic performance and attendance of girl students in rural Zambia, where drop-out rates, especially amongst girls, are extraordinary high.  One of the primary reason for dropping out is transport due to safety and time issues.   Given the importance of having educated girls in society, we are using bicycles to help out.  We will distribute 50,000 to 500 schools over the five year period of the program. We have already distributed about 10,000 bicycles to date in this program.” Check out this Youtube video to get a better idea of what WBR does:  http://www.youtube.com/user/WorldBicycleRelief#p/a/u/1/sVdb5bl5z2s

 

  • Something people at Office Nomads seem to always be discussing are TED events.  TED is all about “ideas worth spreading” and has an eye on changing the world.  Greg Bamford is excited to curate a TEDxOverlake event entitled “How People Learn: At Work, At Play, At School”.  This will take place June 18th at the Overlake School. Under TED rules, they are limited to 100 attendees but the event will be streamed online.  For more information and the latest news on speakers and their Facebook and Twitter accounts.

Well, now you’re smitten with our Nomads, too, aren’t you?  We completely understand.

Bathroom Ingenuity

Imagine you are in the middle of a large project which you need to have emailed to a client in 30 minutes. You’ve been up all night and have had 13 cups of coffee in an equal number of hours. Suddenly you really have to go to the bathroom. That’s fine, you can spare two minutes. You get up, head to the bathrooms but (curses!) they are both in use! Now you have to wait, and wait, and watch those minutes till deadline tick away.

Well, this might not be your life. But here at ON we have two bathrooms and a lot of busy folks. One particular Nomad was tired of hearing folks complain about waiting for the bathroom and he decided to do something about it. Wouldn’t it be great if there was some way he and everyone else could know when a bathroom was open?

Andrew had a brilliant idea and made signs that light up when both bathrooms are in use. The signs are situated so that every desk in the space can see. No more standing around waiting. Before you even get up, you know if there’s a bathroom free. Yeah, we agree that this was genius.

Probably the best part about this was that it was completely Nomad initiated and completed. It’s not hard to see why we love our Nomads, is it? Thanks Andrew for your great ingenuity!

This Week At Office Nomads

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Member Profile: Andy Hieb

Andy Hieb

Type of Member: Resident

Member Since: August 2010

In the summer of 2010, Andy Hieb came into Office Nomads for a tour but was already exclaiming that he was ready to be a Resident. He just had to first move to Seattle from Brooklyn.

 

We often get folks who come in and are super excited and then are never heard from again. Andy was not one of those people. Sure enough, August 1st he was moving his computer and photos to his desk of choice. I’m not sure if who was more excited, him or us. He jumped right into things here at ON, happily joining member lunches and attending the range of workshops we have in the space, from patent law to bicycle commuting.

 

Office Nomads is Andy’s space to work as a web developer with his company, Dtek. He runs a boutique web development shop that builds WordPress and Drupal web sites for non-profits, commercial firms, and entrepreneurs.

 

Andy has just moved back to Seattle and is loving seeing the city with fresh eyes and seeing how it has changed over the years. Visiting the new Elliott Bay Books, discovering new films with SIFF and trying to find the closest thing to New York pizza are favorite activities. Soccer, though, seems to top the list as his son, Jonah, plays on a team, Andy also plays, and the Sounders have already won them

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We’re pretty happy that Andy found us and are fairly certain that the feeling is mutual. Next time you’re in, you should make sure to say hi.