Last night I was happy to present a quick 3-minute stint on coworking at Great City’s “What’s the Big Idea?” event. This was the first time they’ve held an event like this, and it seems like they got enough positive support to host more in the future.
I was excited to share a big idea for Seattle, and am now happy to pass along some of what I presented. Ideas are still very much in the initial stages, but if any of this catches your eye and you want to get involved or pick our brains about it, definitely get in touch!
Coworking Seattle: A Platform for Shared Working Spaces in Seattle
Coworking is a community-based approach to getting work done. Coworking spaces exist to provide shared resources to independent workers and telecommuters to allow them a sustainable, local, professional option when it comes to trying to successfully “work from home.” Seattle has put coworking on the map in the pacific northwest and has proven that it can succeed. Coworking is recognized as a method by which cities can drive innovation and encourage collaboration – key success matrices when it comes to surviving difficult economic times. Worldwide, there are over 165 coworking spaces currently in operation, and coworking has attracted the attention of a wide spread of media outlets.
Why are coworking spaces a big idea for Seattle? These spaces are a simple, resource-efficient way to address the transportation issue in our city. They encourage urban sustainability by encouraging individuals to work closer to where they live without sacrificing their sanity and professionalism by trying to work from their living rooms. Coworking spaces enable citizens to get out out of their cars, save valuable commuting time, and keep their dollars local by supporting other neighborhood businesses. Coworking spaces are economic generators for neighborhoods.
Seattle is current pouring huge amounts of tax dollars into building more roads and bigger transpiration systems to move people all over the Seattle region. While this work is important, it also begs a question: when it comes to daily transportation needs, why not work on encouraging our citizens to stay closer to home? Why push to do more when we could succeed by doing less? We have the technological capacity (access to the internet, virtual private networks, etc.) and city-sponsored programs to support increased telecommuting in our area. As the job market tightens, we see more and more individuals deciding to strike out on their own and start their own businesses. Instead of asking these people to attempt to succeed by working isolated at home or amongst noisy cafes, why not support shared workspaces which not only allow individuals to work in their own neighborhoods, but also to share resources and save energy by sharing space?
There are an average of 210,000 cars going over and back on the floating bridges each day. This is a shock, and an embarrassment to our city as we claim to be an environmentally friendly place to live. Seattle can do better, and Seattle must to better. Coworking spaces, whether for desk jockeys, caterers, woodworkers, or artists, are one way in which our city could take a strong step forward in making a difference. In our current market, and with so many commercial offices spaces laying vacant, we cannot afford not to. An effort which combines the energy of private coworking spaces and leverages their knowledge to support public spaces is going to be key to making these spaces available to all.