Coworking Signals

The little moments that happen within the bounds of a coworking community are some of the best examples of the coworking movement’s ability to make an impact. These moments are rarely newsworthy, but are incredibly important and are so much of the “why” behind what coworking is all about. So why not try to shine the light on these moments and see what happens?

Welcome to #coworkingsignals.

I introduced this little idea to the giant bullhorn festival that is Twitter and was happily surprised when I got my first response:

Andy

And then I got another one:

GoneCoworking

And even more. Some of them in French. Ou là là!

Foundery

Cohere

YES! This is what I’m talking about. The “why” of coworking is so rarely touched on because it can be so small. But added up over time, it is pretty powerful stuff.

Please join me in adding your voice to the mix. I’d love to hear what you have to say!

GCUC 2014: The Potential of Coworking

coworking

For 3 days, coworking geeks from around the globe gathered in Kansas City for this year’s Global Coworking Unconference Conference. During our time together we shared, listened, learned, argued and laughed. As always when coworking friends convene, it felt wonderful to reconnect with the global movement. Coworking is not just this thing that we do in Seattle – it’s a movement of independent workers from around the world all looking to do better together.

Now back home in Seattle, I am eagerly diving through a long list of great ideas to implement here in our coworking community. Beyond what we’re getting up to here, I think it is important to share some of the bigger picture items that were discussed while we gathered together in the Airline History Museum (hence the planes in all the pictures – cool, eh?):

Forecast: there will be 1 MILLION coworkers by 2018

During the first day’s conference session, Steve King of Emergent Research provided us with this incredible nugget of insight into the future of work: 1 million coworkers around the world by 2018. That’s bigger than the population of Seattle. Bigger than Austin. Bigger than San Francisco. While the total number is impressive, it is the potential of this number that gets me particularly fired up. We have the potential to ensure that 1 million people don’t just have a great place to work, but that they are a part of strong, supportive, collaborative communities. One million people working alongside one another doesn’t sound all that exciting to me. One million people who are tapped into strong support systems and are encouraged to learn with and from one another is an entirely different data set that I hope to contribute to. Coworking spaces have a responsibility to adhere to the core values, and to shift the conversation away from our physical space and onto the communities that form within those spaces.

Unconference Day

We’ll say it again: it’s not about the space

Day 2 was our unconference day, which is when we got to dig deep into specific topics with one another. It is participatory, full of great dialogues, and is the day that I personally get the most out of at this event. In the first session, I hosted a conversation called “Let’s talk about cultivating spaces that matter.” My hope was to highlight that opening and operating a space is the least exciting thing that we do. No city in the world is short on desk space or internet connections. What draws people to coworking is the possibility of having their emotional needs met.

Yes, it sounds woo-woo but it’s the most important work of coworking: addressing the human needs of the independent workforce. These tend to come in the form of social connections and opportunities to learn, not the ability to print something or upload a big file. During this talk, 100% of the conversation was focused around the emotional needs of our members and how to address them. We talked about how a sense of belonging happens, the delicate dance of cultural development, and how to encourage members to take the reins of the space themselves. It was fantastic stuff and reinforced what we’ve learned from 7 years of coworking here in Seattle: it’s not about the space.

Unconference talks 2

Addressing the true needs of the independent workforce

The final session I was a part of on Day 2 was a discussion about “intentional coworking.” Tony Bacigalupo of New Work City and I talked about our experience bringing Cotivation (accountability/support groups for indies) to our coworking communities. Nicolas Bergé-Gaillard from Les Satellites shared about their member mentorship program, as well as their “Good Actions” project where members work together on a nonprofit project. The central theme of the programs we shared with one another was not that they were great marketing fodder or a way to generate revenue, but that they were ways to encourage our current members to make the most of their membership. Programming at a coworking space can be more than an event listing on a website. It can be another way to build a strong platform on which independent workers can create a community. Coworking spaces have the opportunity to be the platform, and great programming can be a way to set that intention.

Big thanks to everyone who came out for the conference – it was a delight to meet so many great folks from around the world. And thanks to the GCUC team for all your hard work, and for letting us borrow these photos for the blog. See you next year, if not before!

Community Cultivator Space Voyage Field Trip!

On April 16th, the intrepid Office Nomads Community Cultivation team went on a voyage to visit 5 local coworking spaces, making connections and earning our Space Traveler mugs. The Seattle Collaborative Space Alliance offers a mug to anyone who visits 5 spaces (with photographic high-five documentation, of course). But we didn’t make it to 5 spaces–we made it to 6! All aboard Phaedra, the Magical Coworking Bus, and hear the story of our epic adventure:

Space Name: WeWork

Coffee: Zoka
wework-logo

WeWork, a large coworking space in South Lake Union, was our first stop. With 3 floors, they are easily the biggest of the spaces we visited, and also the newest. Comprised mostly of private offices but with some lovely common areas and workspaces, WeWork has a polished and cool atmosphere–including beer on tap–as well as some stellar views. We got an amazing tour from Gina and got our high-five in front of a Sasquatch!

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Space Name: Impact HUB

Coffee: Equal Exchange
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Next we were off to Impact HUB in Pioneer Square. The guys hanging out outside really dug our Westy! The HUB are old friends of ours, and their space has lots of light and a great vibe as always. Sarah, who is also a member of ON, showed us all kinds of neat things they’ve got going on. As we navigated the twists and turns of turn-of-the-century architecture in their recent expansion, we learned it was originally a brothel! Saucy! And we are totally stealing their on-glass meeting room reservation system.

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Space Name: Works Progress

Coffee: Alternates, currently it’s Forest Voices
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Then it was off to Greenwood to visit our dear friends at Works Progress, Jessie & Marnee. Jessie greeted us and showed us around. Works Progress is on the smaller side, which adds a friendly and intimate feel to the space. They have reclaimed academic desks and a super cool eclectic feel.

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They have also added a whole new section since the last time we visited, with a bigger kitchen and meeting rooms.

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Phew, after all this we were getting hungry! So we made sure Paseo’s, aka the land of the Best Cuban Sandwiches of All Time, was en route. After plowing through them with great vigor, we found ourselves pleasantly ahead of schedule, so we gave Ballard Labs a call to see if we could stop by!

Space Name: Ballard Labs

Coffee: Up to the members
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Ballard Labs is tricky to find but well worth the hunt. It’s tucked away inside a shopping complex near the Ballard Blocks–we got turned around so many times we ended up on the roof!IMG_20140416_121939

When we finally found our way to the door, we were greeted warmly. What a beautiful view their space has–and big huge windows, to show it off!

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On our tour we learned that Ballard Labs rents their meeting rooms for events, so we will be sure to add them to our list of recommended meeting spaces. Also they had scotch.IMG_20140416_124057

 

Space Name: Makerhaus

Coffee: Up to the members
Makerhaus

Next we headed to Makerhaus for a taste of a more physical brand of coworking. Located right on 36th in Fremont, Makerhaus offers access to expensive & complex tools that can often be out of reach for small makers–kind of like a tool library and coworking space in one–such as a wood and metal shop, 3D printing and laser cutting. Quite a few of the signs around Office Nomads were made at Makerhaus! We loved seeing all the projects the makers are up to.IMG_05361

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Space Name: Lilospace

Coffee: Wine
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Finally we pulled up to our final visit: Lilospace in Sodo. Nestled inside the historic Old Rainier Brewery, Lilo is a very small, artsy space with some very big-deal members. Sansaire, a team who developed a new type of sous vide cooker, recently had their Kickstarter funded to the tune of $800,000!  The space is run by Leo, a designer, photographer, and entrepreneur. He told us all about the journey of getting the space up and running and the story behind their suh-weet anatomical angel bathroom mural.

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They definitely win for coolest bathroom.

Back at Nomads, what was there to do but toast to our success with our brand new mugs!IMG_20140416_144411

A toast is just a high-five with mugs.

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See you next time!

Spring Photo Contest!

work from home

We know working from home isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. For some it works out delightfully well – peaceful, quiet, focused. But for many (and we’ve heard from thousands of you over the years) it’s rife with distractions, lonely, and uncomfortable. We’ve heard your stories, but nothing quite says it like a picture. Show us how bad it can be!

Send us photos of your best (aka worst) home office setups. Whether you’re programming at the kitchen table, crammed into the local café, or attempting to get some work done with a puppy in the house (like Teal, above), we want to see what you’re attempting to work through. Photos can be spontaneous or staged, and we won’t judge you at all if you put your pets or your kids in the photo to get extra points.

The individual with the best photo will win a one-month membership to Office Nomads at any membership level (key card access not included). Send your submissions to photocontest@officenomads.com. We’ll be posting some of our favorites to both our Facebook Page and Twitter Feed. Submission deadline is Friday April 18th at 6pm.

Show us your worst, Seattle!

Wage Slaves: Tales from the Grind

We are thrilled to invite you to join us for a special event at Office Nomads! Please join us and this wonderful crew for an evening of prose.

tales from the grind

Wage Slaves: Tales from the Grind
Thursday, March 13, 6:30-8 pm (during Capitol Hill Arts Walk)

Six Seattle authors read stories and poems about the jobs they’ve loved, lost, hated, tolerated, and sometimes, quit in a frenzied rage. Featuring Maged Zaher (2013 Stranger Genius, Thank You for the Window Office), Peter Mountford (The Dismal Science, A Young Man’s Guide to Late Capitalism), Jane Hodges (Rent vs. Own, My Year of Living Posthumously), Matthew Nienow (The End of the Folded Map, Best New Poets 2007 and 2012), Sierra Golden (poems forthcoming in Chicago Quarterly Review, Ploughshares, and Permafrost), and Michelle Goodman (The Anti 9-to-5 Guide, My So-Called Freelance Life). Coffee and doughnuts provided. Free and open to the public. More details at http://seattlewageslaves.com/

Personnel:

Maged Zaher is the author of Thank You for the Window Office (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2012), The Revolution Happened and You Didn’t Call Me (Tinfish Press, 2012), and Portrait of the Poet as an Engineer (Pressed Wafer, 2009). His collaborative work with the Australian poet Pam Brown, Farout Library Software, was published by Tinfish Press in 2007. His translations of contemporary Egyptian poetry have appeared in Jacket MagazineBanipal, and Denver Quarterly. He performed his work at Subtext, Bumbershoot, the Kootenay School of Writing, St. Marks Project, Evergreen State College, and The American University in Cairo. Maged is the recipient of the 2013 Genius Award in Literature from the Seattle weekly The Stranger.

Peter Mountford‘s debut novel A Young Man’s Guide to Late Capitalism won the 2012 Washington State Book Award. His second novel The Dismal Science was recently published by Tin House Books. His fiction and essays have appeared in The Atlantic Monthly, The New York Times Magazine, Granta, Boston Review, Southern Review, Best New American Voices 2008, and numerous other anthologies and magazines. He’s currently a writer-in-residence at Richard Hugo House.

Matthew Nienow is the author of three chapbooks, the most recent of which is The End of the Folded Map (2011). A 2013 Ruth Lilly Poetry Fellow, he has also been recognized with grants and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, Artist Trust, 4Culture, the Elizabeth George Foundation, and the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference. His poems have appeared in Poetry,New England ReviewPoetry Northwest, and two editions of the Best New Poets anthology. He lives in Port Townsend with his wife and two sons, where he builds boats and works as a writer-in-residence at a small private school.

Michelle Goodman is the award-winning author of The Anti 9-to-5 Guide and My So-Called Freelance Life, both published by Seal Press. Her essays and journalism have appeared in dozens of publications, including Salon, Vice, Bust, The Magazine, The New York Times, The Seattle Times, Seattle magazine, and several anthologies. She’s currently writing a book called Crap Job: How to Make the Most of the Job You Hate, which Seal Press will publish in 2015.

Jane Hodges is a Seattle-based business writer and author of Rent vs. Own. In 2012 she became power of attorney for both her father and her uncle. They each died, forcing her, grieving, back to the South she had fled like a prison escapee. There, in her executrix role, she found herself hocking jewelry at Southern Bullion, pawning a gun, skirting tornados, hacking into e-mail and bank accounts, trying to divest mountain plots and timeshares, and lurking at the Oconee County dump. Navigating Dixie with a catty ex-military rent-a-brother, a gypsy jazz CD, and her Letters Testamentary, she wound up in an existential crisis she’s chronicling in a memoir in progress, My Year of Living Posthumously.

Sierra Golden received her MFA in poetry from North Carolina State University. Winner of the program’s 2012 Academy of American Poets Prize, Golden’s work appears widely in literary journals such as Roanoke Review, Fourth River, and Tar River Poetry. New poems are forthcoming in Permafrost and PloughsharesShe has spent many summers in Alaska working as a commercial fisherman.

Cultivating Useful Connections


Networking

This is the first in a series entitled “Nomadic

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Encounters” – stories of cool projects seeded, germinated, and cultivated through encounters at Office Nomads.

When you get asked to a networking event, do you think “Cool! Free wine, cheese, and interesting new people!” or “Oh no! Cheesy people whining and trying to sell me things!”? That’s the dilemma Office Nomads faced – we know our members love to connect and create useful projects, but should we call it networking? “Networking” short-changes the real connections that happen within our community, and so instead we’d like to introduce you the first of many stories of “Nomadic Encounters.”

One project happening now is a member-driven idea called The Numad Program (it is an evolution of the Nomad-in-Residence Program if you remember that one). We selected one individual who was embarking on a professional transition, gave them a discounted resident membership, and most importantly collected a team of members who were interested in volunteering their time to help the “Numad” gain traction in their transition during a three-month period.

Our first Numad is Mandy Egle, a grammar and pronunciation coach for non-native English speakers. While Mandy is an expert possessing magical knowledge that unlocks the secret of saying “my car” differently from “mike are” – one that works fantastically whether your brain was wired listening to conversations in Bangladesh, Senegal, or Buenos Aires – she lacked the technical and business skills to upgrade her website, pronuncian.com, into the best tool for learning.

“I’m forging ahead but I don’t know what I’m doing,” said Mandy. With the help of other Nomads like intellectual property attorney Mike Morita, designer and engineer Trevor Smith, financial analyst Javier Soto, game developer Pat Kemp, and myself, Mandy is creating a project plan to achieve her dream, a site “that learners can really interact with and learn from in a profound way.” One that includes gamification so learning is more engaging for students.

“As a teacher, I have a list of students’ excuses for why they aren’t advancing,” Mandy told us. From this she has been able to develop a number of tools and podcasts to help them practice more effectively when she can’t be there.

And while pronuncian.com has been around since 2007, and now gets 70,000 visits per month, she wants to make that system more useful and available to students that live nowhere near Seattle. “We called it Project Morocco, because our vision was to enable Mustafa in Marrakesh to be able to speak as well as Cho in Seattle.”

What’s the goal? To double the usefulness of her site, to better help students around the world develop American English fluency so they can tap higher paying jobs, and to be virtually available 24/7/365 so she and her family can spend more time sailing their 37-foot cat-sloop named Rosie around the Salish Sea and Pacific Ocean.

Over the next few months, Mandy will meet with her team and develop a plan to make her transition happen. And I’ll be writing about it here; so stay in touch!

Kevin Owyang is a member of Office Nomads and Digital Strategist for Game-Changers. When not developing new strategies to amplify social entrepreneurs across new media, he can be found making independent films or hanging with his dog on Capitol Hill.

 

Member Profile: Matt Kuphaldt

Matt_Kuphaldt

Matt Kuphaldt, freelance creative genius (that’s our declaration, not his), came to Office Nomads in 2011 and quickly discovered it to be a perfect place to do his graphic design, animation, and illustration work. Most days in the space, Matt is hand-drawing directly into his computer or tablet, crafting unique works for

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his clients or for his independent productions. His art has graced the walls of Office Nomads and galleries alike, and he’s currently engaged in museum-exhibit design. Matt will tell you that he may have already hit the apex of his career already, as he’s got his very own profile up on the Transformers Wiki.Where does a guy go from there?

When he’s not at Nomads, Matt loves puzzle events and festivals, and hikes up the occasional mountain or large hill.

You can check out Matt’s portfolio here: http://spektakle.com

Meet the Community Cultivators!

We have a great crew of Community Cultivators helping out in and around the space right now, and we wanted to introduce them to you!

Anisha_ShankarAnisha and her team are crafting ways to turn human waste into a biogas power source. Which means she is basically going to save the world. Like any respectable superhero, she is also volunteering her time to be a Community Cultivator so she can create some pretty impressive change around the Office Nomads space as well.

We are so lucky to have Anisha back on the Community Cultivation team after she took some time off to participate in Fledge. Anisha is always happy to sit down with her fellow Nomads to share in some deep and enlightening conversations, and just might qualify as one of the most humble people around. Seriously. Just try to get her to brag. Try.

Erin_Fossum
Erin
is the owner and operator of McAllister/Fossum Appraisal Service, LLC. She moved to Seattle from Minneapolis in 2006 to get her Master’s degree in Art History, and has been loving the area ever since. Erin specializes in appraising art, antiques & residential contents. In addition, she does appraisals for a variety of purposes, including insurance, estates, donations and resale.

Outside the office, Erin is an avid pub trivia host as well as a member on an intramural kickball team—which she admits everyone takes far too seriously. She is also a big musical theater geek and a general sports fanatic — whether it is baseball, football, or hockey season, you can find her cheering for her favorite teams.

Heather_GoodwinHeather is a freelance marketer and social media maven. She has extensive experience in marketing for long-term relationship building, as well as an ability to use social media to engage with a variety of target audiences while conveying a client’s core message.

On a personal note, Heather is an avid reader, knitter, and sci-fi/fantasy fan. When she isn’t reading sociological or anthropological accounts of society or culture, you can find her immersed in the world of sci-fi/fantasy literature or having a lively debate about the wonderful world of Star Trek.

Nathan_Cliber

Knate is our resident fun-loving ball of energy. His smile and laugh can brighten even the dreariest Seattle day. Knate works as a family law attorney by day, working for “families of all shapes and sizes.” In addition, he holds a fiery affection for theater and acting, which manifested itself in the form of an undergraduate degree.

Knate is the epitome of an extrovert, and enjoys every aspect of working at the front table with us. If you need something else to talk to him about, Knate has a keen interest in tabletop role playing games and game design. Or you could always ask him about the most recent mix tape he has constructed. Whatever the topic, he’ll be game to have a chat!

Paola_Jaime

Paola is a superstar Spanish instructor, medical interpreter, and content developer for online Spanish learning programs. She loves to help people learn languages and is very excited to have found the perfect environment for her group classes here at Office Nomads– where she offers free language orientations. Paola is also happy to help with whatever else our Nomads need, so drop by and ask her whatever burning question you have on your mind!

Outside of the office, Paola is currently obsessed with Argentine Tango dancing and music. Don’t know what Argentine Tango is all about? Paola would send you here to watch a fun video showing what Argentine Tango really looks like (no, no on is holding a rose in their mouth while they dance).

Chelsea_McClainNEW

Chelsea is our fearless leader of the Community Cultivator team here at Office Nomads, who never ceases to amaze us with her insight and joyful presence! When she isn’t working hard at the front desk handling all the odds and ends of daily operations and keeping the building from burning down, you can find her dancing or generally having a jolly good time. She is the embodiment of cheer and joy, and all of the Community Cultivators feel so blessed to have her in our lives. Chelsea is also the Queen of Waffle Wednesday, her delicious creations continually impress us and our taste buds.

Interested in becoming a Community Cultivator? Swing by the front desk and chat us up sometime. The position lasts 6 months so there are usually upcoming openings to join the team.

Here’s to you, coworking

It’s August 9th, 2013 – Coworking Day! Coworking is being celebrated all over the world today – in big cities, small towns, and rural coworking gatherings alike. Today is a day for us to reflect on all that has happened in the 8 years since Brad Neuberg threw down his original blog post in 2005, and to dream of what the next 8 – nah, 80 years may bring.

Initial Open House

Susan and Jacob, visited by Noel for our grand opening in 2007

Since I first sat down to coffee with Jacob 6 years ago, my life has changed. The coming about of Office Nomads – from my initial dreams on a walk to work until the day we threw open our doors – is something I absolutely cannot imagine my life without. Sure, it has been a crazy journey becoming a small business owner, but that is by far the least interesting part about my life since Office Nomads began. The meat of the matter is being a part of a budding international movement designed to live and work better together, and how coworking cracked open the city of Seattle for me, introducing me to an amazing group of people who I likely would never have met otherwise.

Coworking Day is an opportunity for me to remember Office Nomads’ roots – the early days on the Coworking Google Group, diving into a “wiki” (yeah, I had no idea what that was) to learn and contribute what I could, blogging about everything, visiting fellow spaces in Portland, San Francisco, Philadelphia, excitedly helping to launch the Coworking Visa program, pre-SXSWi beers with the only other people in the world who had heard of “coworking.” It was so. Much. Fun. And such hard work. We were building something new using the pieces we loved about artist lofts, cafes, networking groups, and yes – the regular ol’ office. It took time. It was exciting. It was challenging. We made mistakes. But we hit some things out of the park. And every step of the way I knew that what we were building wasn’t just about Jacob & I “us.” It was the Coworking Community “us.”

Within our own space in our own city here in the northwest corner of the US of A, coworking has been a day-to-day lesson in the great rewards that come from inviting people over. Office Nomads has introduced me to more amazing people that I certainly wouldn’t have crossed paths with otherwise. I’ve learned so much over the last 6 years about such a wild range of topics it is incredible. I know that I am not the only one who has had this experience. I hear members meet one another every day that may not have otherwise that realize they have a shared interest, a reason to work together, or just have a need to head out for a cup of coffee at the same time. It’s incredible stuff. It is accelerated serendipity, but in the least accelerated way possible – through the careful, slow, and deliberate act of working alongside one another over time. Introducing ourselves when we are ready to. Saying hi on the day we’re feeling a little less shy.

Back in late 2008, a small group of fellow coworking spaces started getting together in Seattle, planting seeds for what would become Coworking Seattle and then the Seattle Collaborative Space Alliance. Because if we took all of the lessons we learned in our space and applied them to a wider circle, it meant making strong connections with the people who would be our greatest strength in ensuring the coworking would make it in Seattle – our fellow coworking spaces. And now we have an organization with 20+ spaces participating with a kick-ass mission: “We are here to unify, support and promote the coworking and collaborative space movement in Seattle.”

I’m not sure it gets much better than that.

Happy birthday, coworking. And here’s to many, many more years of great things to come.

 

Member Profile: Shane Clyburn

 

Meet Shane Clyburn, a Resident of the Office Nomads first floor. Shane
is relatively new to our eclectic family, and has been with us since
the end of May 2013. Shane holds Bachelor’s degrees in both Journalism and
Creative Writing from the University of Washington. And when he isn’t
writing poetry, immersed in a novel, or hiking out in the wilderness,
you can find him hard at work as a marketing associate for Morgan &
Claypool Publishers. So the next time you are downstairs, be sure to
drop by and introduce yourself!

Shane