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
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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
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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!

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.

Coworking Europe: this is big.

 

I just returned from an excursion to France, where the start of my trip was completely absorbed with the Coworking Europe Conference in Paris. They call it a coworking conference, but I can tell you confidently that when this group of people got together – 300 people representing 30 nationalities – the conference was about much more than just coworking.

The bulk of conversations surrounding this 3-day event were about connecting to the higher purposes of coworking. How coworking fits into a bigger conversation about our changing world – economically, politically, and socially. We discussed how coworking is – amongst other things – a manifestation of changes we are a part of in every corner of the world.

Coworking and jobs. We heard from Tony Bagicaglupo, Mayor of New Work City, about the ever-evolving “why” of coworking. When so many of us started our spaces, the “why” of coworking was to bring together a community of independent workers who were otherwise isolated in their homes and cafes. But as our spaces evolve, and as coworking spaces from around the world connect, share, and collaborate, we are learning that the “why” of coworking is becoming much, much bigger. For Tony, the “why” has now become a channel through which we can work to fix the job crisis ourselves. His rallying cry to the independent workforce of the world is to stop waiting around for jobs to “be created” by big companies, and instead create the jobs ourselves.

Coworking and political action. Joel Dullroy of Deskmag highlighted the increasing population of freelancers during his presentation on Day 2, and called out coworking spaces as “new political meeting houses” for the independent workforce. For the independent workforce (Joel was speaking specifically about freelancers, but I believe similar conclusions can be drawn to any independent), coworking spaces provide a gathering place and a sharing platform in addition to being a place to work. While on a day-to-day basis this might enable independents to work better and connect with others, coworking spaces also provide a rallying point for independents when they may need it most. He ran us through the story of Germany’s proposed €350 “retirement tax” on freelancers, and how through the power of grassroots organizing (in part via coworking spaces) freelancers were able to raise their voices and strike down the tax.

Coworking and community resilience. I was a part of many conversations about the art of cultivating a coworking community, the beauty of multiple communities emerging out of one coworking space, and how cultivating community is a skill worth learning beyond just it’s implications in the coworking world. The value of a strong, diverse community is possible to see on a day-to-day basis in the form of vibrant conversations, the sharing of skills, and the joy of shared experience. But the power of community is highlighted in an incredibly powerful sense when it is able to demonstrate it’s resilience. Tony Bagicaglupo started off his talk reviewing the quick response by coworking spaces in the wake of Hurricane Sandy in New York. We often talk about how a coworking community isn’t about the space it is in, and Tony gave us a clear view of that truth in practice.

I could continue to wax on and on about the many lessons I learned in Paris and I likely will for years to come. But know this – I’ll definitely be at Coworking Europe 2013. This is a conference not to be missed.

Big thanks to Tilman Vogler and Deskwanted for the use of these photos from Coworking Europe! 

 

 

Two things you should know

Two floors of coworking at Office Nomads is awesome!

We’re having a great time getting to know our new first floor space, and are loving it more and more each day. If you haven’t come by to check it out, you should – we’re open M-F from 8:30-6 as usual. We’re always happy to give you a quick tour of the space and answer all of your coworking questions. In fact, we have a whole new team of Community Cultivators on hand who are there to help you get acquainted with all the goings-on in the space (we’ll tell you more about them soon – I promise!).

Specifically, if you are interested in becoming a Resident, you can take advantage of the opportunity to pay 6-months in advance and receive a little discount. Drop by and chat us up and we’d be more than happy to tell you all about it.

November 1: Office Nomads turns 5

We are throwing a big Open House event on November 1st and we want you to be there! Please join us in celebrating 5 amazing years of coworking on Capitol Hill, our newly expanded space, and the fabulous team that makes Office Nomads work so well. You can RSVP here via Facebook, or just come on by between 6-9pm on Thursday, November 1st. Families, friends, coworkers and colleagues are most welcome to attend.

A Field Trip to Cedar Grove Composting Facility

Last Wednesday a cadre of Nomads took a trip to Cedar Grove, the family-owned composting facility in Everett that handles the yard and food waste from King and Snohomish counties. When you put your coffee grounds, chopsticks, eggshells, orange peels, leftover Pud Thai, sandwiches, bonsai trees, and approved food packaging into the green compost bins at Office Nomads, this is where it ends up!

Hey! Don’t eat that!

They use a 3-phase Gore system (as in Gore-Tex, the company that makes the breathable covers for the composting piles) to turn organic urban waste into various garden soils and mulches.  In fact, theirs is the largest Gore system in the world!  It turns out over 400,000 tons of rich, fertile goodness every year.

And this bald eagle owns all of it.

The first phase grinds and sorts the waste into pieces no bigger than 4 inches.  Then it is churned in with wood chips, which are important to balance out the abundance of green yard waste they receive.  “Green” materials contain lots of nitrogen, while “brown” materials like wood have lots of carbon.  Getting the right balance is critical to making good compost.  Then, they use front-loaders to move the compost into long piles, which are aerated and sprayed with just the right amount of water for decomposition.  The next phase continues this, and the final one involves “curing,” i.e. letting the compost rest until it naturally darkens in color.

Conveyor system moving the compost from intake to Stage 1.

A long pile of compost in Stage 2

Their “recipes” for nitrogen and carbon (green and brown organic waste, respectively) ratios vary throughout the year in order to produce a uniform final product.  For example, they have a grass recipe, a pumpkin recipe, and a Christmas tree recipe, depending on what they’re getting seasonally from consumers.  They also modify the recipes with nutrients such as manure and loam to make the different products they sell to gardeners and landscapers.

Vesting up for safety

We were able to walk right up to the giant rows of compost to see and feel the various stages of decomposition.  Most were under their Gore-Tex covers, but in the final stage they are out in the open air.  We were able to touch them to feel how hot they get–the composting organic material naturally heats up to about 175 degrees!  This hot composting action works even in the dead of winter.

Veena feels the warmth

On a sad note, there were pieces of shredded plastic visible in all the piles. While they have a system to remove most of the plastic and metal that gets tossed in with the organic waste, seeing the plastic bags all piled in tall heaps was enough to make any Italian-actor-playing-a-Native-American-chief cry.  It might not seem like a big deal to toss a bag closure in with the spinach, but it adds up fast–and the result is pretty upsetting.  They can’t even sell some of their compost anymore because of all the plastic.

Huge magnet they use to remove metal

But encouragingly, everyone we met was super sweet, optimistic, and very passionate about composting. It was such a nerdy good time that we’d love to organize more field trips in the future.  Next up, we’re going to see if we can visit the recycling center to learn how that magic happens.  Onward to more adventures!

Celebrating Coworking

As August 9th approaches, we are getting ready to celebrate yet another fabulous year of coworking – both here in Seattle and across the globe. That’s right, August 9th is Coworking Day!

That's where we'll be on August 9th!

We waxed poetic about it a bit last year, and now this year we are excited to do a little bit more than just talk about what coworking means. We’re going to show Seattle what coworking IS. Teaming up with our coworkers as a part of Coworking Seattle, we’re participating in Seattle’s first-ever Coworking Day celebration. Coworkers from all over the city will converge on beautiful Gasworks Park from 3-7pm for a little bit of working and then a lot of celebrating. We’ll have WiFi provided by Clear, picnic benches to sit upon, and even a little grill provided by Ryan of Coworking Eastlake.

So come August 9, pack up your laptop (and maybe a drink and something to throw on the grill), get yourself on down to Gasworks (either on your own or at one of the coordinated pickup spots with rides from our friends at Uber), and come celebrate coworking. We hope to see you there!

Event details: http://coworkingseattle.org/Coworking_Day.html
RSVP page: http://coworkingdayseattle.eventbrite.com/

This Week At Office Nomads

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Fremont Meetup a Success!

Thanks to all who were able to make it out to the first meetup about the opening of our second coworking space. It was great to see some new faces along with some current members, and to get to hear more about what folks are looking for when it comes to building our next coworking community.

Hosting meetups such as we did last night is an important step in the early days of any coworking space. Not only is it important for us to provide a space for members of the community to give recommendations and pose requests for how the space will work, but  there is huge value in creating a way for members to actually get involved in the process. As we’ve said before, people support what they help to create. We hope that folks who are interested in this earlier phase will join us to go visit spaces, continue to brainstorm with us as we develop the plans for the space, and get to know other members before we open the doors to the next space.

If you missed the event, never fear – the next one will be soon! And as always, if you have any suggestions, feedback, or recommendations to make, drop us an e-mail at grow AT officenomads DOT com so we can get you in the conversation.

Neighborhood Campaign Update

Happy new year everyone! We are hitting the ground running in 2011 and are excited for the next steps towards opening another coworking space in Seattle.

We wanted to write with an update on the Neighborhood Campaign we launched in November. After hearing from approximately 120 potential members (whoa!), we can now confidently say that we are now focusing our efforts north of the shipping canal. The majority of our responses were for Ballard, Fremont, and Greenlake. We’re thrilled!

So what’s next? Well, we’d love to meet those of you who are really interested in our next space! We’d like to invite you to join us for a casual coworking meet up on Thursday, January 27th from 5-7pm at The Red Door in Fremont. We will give an update on our progress, and will talk about the future space and how it might work. Please RSVP by either adding yourself to the Facebook event or by e-mailing grow AT officenomads DOT com.

Hope to see you there!