What creates our culture?

Several months ago, a group of Nomads gathered and discussed the culture here at Office Nomads. We talked about what helps contribute to the culture of our coworking space, and how those elements interact with one another. It was a fantastic exercise, and one we plan to go through again and again as our coworking community grows and changes over time.

After our discussion, we made up a quick chart of the threads of our coworking culture:

Do you run a coworking space? Are you a part of a coworking space? What do you think contributes to the culture of your space? Share your thoughts here!

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 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.

 

A few things we’ve learned

Jacob and I regularly survey our members so we can learn more about their experiences at Office Nomads and with coworking. We analyze this data to help us create a coworking space that truly works for our members, and to ensure that we have our finger on the pulse of what makes our space work. We recognize there is a lot of value in sharing this information, so today we thought we’d post some interesting tidbits we’ve learned from our experience creating Office Nomads! Here are a few points we’ve pulled from two of our surveys: a Coworking Survey completed by members who have been with us for two months or more, and an Exit Survey of members who choose to end their membership at Office Nomads. Both of these are ongoing so the data changes over time and requires regular analysis. Each survey, as of June 2011, has been filled out by approximately 45 individuals.

Why do members come to Office Nomads?
It is a common misconception that individuals seek out membership at a coworking space because they need to share resources like the internet, coffee, or a fax machine. Through our experience starting Office Nomads, we’ve learned that individuals come to a coworking space as more of a lifestyle (or perhaps “workstyle”) choice as opposed to a services choice. Here’s a chart taken from our Coworking Survey results:

We think this makes it pretty clear that independent and mobile workers today don’t need more places just to plop down their laptops and get to work. What they need is a simple platform that enables an in-person connection with others during their workdays.

Some ideas about why they stay
What brings new members to our doors is not necessarily what is going to encourage them to maintain their membership at Office Nomads. We try to get a sense of what benefits our members experience by being a part of Office Nomads.

  • 2/3 of surveyed members report they have seen an increase in their productivity since joining Office Nomads.
  • 81% of surveyed members think of Office Nomads as a place where they “can meet and connect with potential collaborators for work.”
  • 83% of surveyed members report their “work/life balance is healthier than it was before [they] joined Office Nomads.”
  • 72% of surveyed members tell us their familiarity and knowledge of the Capitol Hill neighborhood (where Office Nomads is located) has increased since becoming a member of Office Nomads.

Why do they leave?
Part of being responsible coworking space owners is figuring out not only what brings new members to our doors, but trying to understand why members walk away. Attrition rates can only tell us how many people walk out the door, so we appreciate getting candid feedback when members depart.

The exit survey has been an invaluable tool because we can keep an eye out for red flags that do require our attention. But not every member who joins finds coworking to be the solution for them.  In fact, the exit survey process gives us an opportunity to make recommendations about where people might find a better fit. I’d recommend any coworking space operator to survey the folks who end their membership.

And now a few questions: If you own/operate a coworking space, does this data jive with what you’ve learned from your members? If you’re a coworking space user, does our membership data resonate with the reasons you’ve chosen to work out of a coworking space? Let us know – we’re curious! We’re taking all we’ve learned here in Capitol Hill and are trying to apply it to creating another space – you can read more about that process on our grow page.

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.

What do our members do? A whole lot of awesome.

In the past we have done our best to keep you all updated on the news from Office Nomads. You’ve heard about our neighborhood campaign to start another coworking space in Seattle, when we are lucky enough to score some great press, and when we make changes to our membership offerings.

Well, that’s fun and all, but it barely scratches the surface of the great stuff that happens within the walls of our Capitol Hill coworking space. So welcome to the first of (hopefully) many posts featuring projects and happenings from our members. They are a hard-working bunch, and are usually working on something awesome:

  • New part-time member Ryan Luce launched a free, comprehensive website that helps folks with Type 2 diabetes find clinical trials that are right for them. The site helps those who are interested in clinical trials sort through the huge number of available trials with ease, and find trials that are close to home. The website is called Corengi, and it’s pretty awesome.
  • Long-time member Ariel Stallings added a new website to her Offbeat Empire called Offbeat Home. It’s the newest gem in her crown of beautiful, fun, and useful websites for folks who are looking to navigate their lives a little differently than the norm. Check out the sweet yurt drawing on the home page – it’s my favorite!
  • Matt Davis is a local salesman for Rulon, a Florida-based company that manufactures and installs stunning acoustical wooden ceilings and walls. This week Rulon began producing these beautiful ceilings for the Legacy Emanuel Children’s Hospital in Portland OR. In just 4 months, the project will be done, and will hopefully have earned either a LEED gold or platinum certification. Go Matt!

Rendering of a children's hospital in Portland OR

  • In the realm of amazing things that don’t happen every day, member George Divoky recently heard from an actor who was playing a part inspired by his arctic bird research at the National Theatre in London. Yes, you read that right. George had no idea that his life’s work had inspired a playwright to base a couple of characters off of him in a play about climate change. But apparently, they did. So off to London George went to go watch himself (as portrayed by two different actors) on stage. You can read all about it (and I’d highly recommend it) at the Adventures in Climate Change blog.

Pretty neat, eh? Stay tuned for more updates from the goings-on here at Office Nomads!

2010 Highlights – it was one heck of a year!

As 2010 comes to a close, it’s a great time to reflect on all the excitement of the past year! Here – briefly – are some of the highlights at Office Nomads in 2010:

  • Welcomed 76 new members throughout the year! Some members have since left, but many are still here as the year comes to a close!
  • Rocked out 4 great open houses, bringing in beautiful new art to our space, and raising many a glass to the great times here at ON.
  • Introduced Part Time Memberships to our offerings, creating a wider range of membership options for Seattle’s nomadic workforce.
  • Got an awesome office dog.
  • Ripped down a pesky wall, bringing light and life to the green room.
  • Created and continued partnerships with some incredible companies, including Biznik, Dibspace, and Zipcar!
  • Tested out a couple of months with Night Owl extended hours. Let us know if you’re interested in having us continue late-nights in 2011!
  • Held awesome workshops with and for our awesome members.
  • Turned 3!
  • Gave talks about coworking at spectacular events in Seattle and Brussels!
  • Contributed to the purchase of coworking.com, for the good of the coworking community worldwide.
  • Promoted and collaborated with our fellow Seattle coworking cohorts through Coworking Seattle Meetups!
  • Decided to grow. Whoa.

We owe our deepest thanks to our incredible members who make up and support our coworking community. You all are simply incredible, and we can’t wait to see what 2011 brings.

Big ups,

Susan, Jacob, Alexandra & the team at Office Nomads

Work From Home Relief!

Over the years, we have heard many work-from-home stories from folks who come through our coworking space.  Many start with “I love working from home, but…” followed by a long pause.  It seems everyone has something that makes working from home not work for them.  For some it’s the isolation of being alone all day without enough human interaction. For others it’s being a work-at-home parent with a child who doesn’t understand that “mommy’s working right now.”  And others got tired of waiting for their cat to come up with their next great business idea.

For whatever the reason, many work-from-homers need a break from time to time and that’s where we’re excited to come in and help out. Whether you need to escape the drudgery of the home office once a week or full-time, Office Nomads has some great options you can mix and match to fit into your schedule and budget.  Take a look at our updated membership & pricing page, and then switch back here for an example of what we are talking about.

A real world example

So, you’ve finally got your consulting business up and running, and things are going well.  You’ve got several clients, but are still looking for more.  You started up out of your living room, and occasionally head out to the coffee shop when you want to shake things up.  You are still excited to be your own boss and yet also feel like you’ve plateaued.  While seeking something to break the stalemate you look into coworking.

You don’t need a full-time office, but dropping in a few days a month would really help revive your productivity.  You decide to give things a try and sign up for a Basic membership at Office Nomads ($50/month).  While chatting with Alexandra at the front desk, you learn about Biznik, a Seattle-based networking group for indies just like you.  You whip up your free profile, go to a few events, and soon realize the value of upgrading to a Biznik Pro membership ($10/month).  Now you are gathering clients faster than ever, and more and more people know who you are and what you’re all about.  Realizing that you might want to register your consulting business someplace other than your home, you add a Business Identity Plan to your membership at Office Nomads ($35/month).

One month later, you’ve got an impressive new office to bring your clients to, a vibrant community of coworkers to collaborate with, a wider network of independent entrepreneurs to learn from, and a professional address associated with your business, all for less than $100/month.

Sounds pretty awesome, eh?

Again, check out our updated membership and pricing page, and then mosey on over to our list of friends & partners to see what other opportunities membership at Office Nomads might bring!

Thanks to Flickr user Fayez for use of the beautiful photo above under the Creative Commons license.

Climate Change, Transportation & Coworking

Jacob and I spent the morning today at the WBR Business Transportation Forum, put on by the Seattle Climate Partnership and several other transportation-related organizations. We heard from various business as to what they were doing to improve their transportation-related carbon footprints, as well as Mayor Mike McGinn, who wanted to talk about a new city initiative called Walk Bike Ride. We were there because we believe that coworking is a 21st century solution to addressing climate change in our city.

Really? Coworking and climate change? Allow me to start from the top: the Seattle City Council recently announced that it is working towards becoming a carbon neutral city. In order to do this, the city is going to have to address every aspect of how the city runs day to day. Transportation is the single largest contributor to Seattle’s carbon footprint and as such is the logical first place to get started on the grand path of carbon neutrality.

Making a dent in carbon emissions when it comes to transportation requires an incredible toolbox of solutions – from improving public transportation to making our urban neighborhoods pedestrian friendly to enforcing strong emissions standard, and more. The list is endless. There is a lot of work to do, and with a truly strapped city budget, the work gets tougher and tougher each year.

What is the role of coworking in this scenario? Coworking is one tool in the toolbox of solutions to transportation issues. Coworking spaces are neighborhood-based, intentional workspaces (in contrast to workspaces like coffee shops) that enable local workers to work closer to home. Whether that means they trade their longer commute for a walk to the coworking space once a week or ditch their commute completely to become 100% remote, coworking spaces allow modern workers to work closer to home without having to face the isolation, distractions, and productivity challenges of working from home.

Here at Office Nomads we know that 40% of our current members come directly from our neighborhood (Capitol Hill Seattle).  Extend that radius to 3 miles from our office, and you capture 61% of our members. Because of the close proximity of our space for most of our members, that means they tend to arrive at our space by either walking, biking, or taking the bus (we’re currently working on gathering more data on that point – stay tuned). Today’s technology allows these individuals to work for clients from all over the world, but stay in their own neighborhoods while they do it. This method of working keeps local dollars local and builds healthier communities.

Office Nomads believes that coworking enables independent workers to make their work experience better.  Beyond the work environment, we also believe that if the majority of individuals using coworking spaces are doing so because there is a coworking space convenient to where they live, more coworking spaces would allow more workers throughout the city to stay in their neighborhoods to work. That is one of the reasons we started Coworking Seattle, and why we continue to encourage the growth of more coworking spaces in our city. More individuals choosing to telecommute or work within their own neighborhoods means less time wasted commuting (the average American spends 61 minutes behind the wheel each day according to Transporation Choices Coalition), and more productive time working, living, and contributing to local commerce.

So, consider coworking a tool.  Not a one-stop solution, but a great tool to use in the journey to make an impact on our city’s carbon footprint.  Interested in helping out?  Join in the conversations happening at Coworking Seattle via our Google Group.  We’d love to talk to you!

Thanks to flickr user Robert S. Donovan for use of the above photo under the Creative Commons License.

Seriously, I’m getting stuff done.

I remember the first time I came across this video I just couldn’t get enough of it.  I recently chatted about this video with a friend and realized it was time to share it again – enjoy!

Printing Green in the Office

In my other life, I’m a reporter for a magazine called Sustainable Industries. It’s a magazine about, you guessed it, the business of sustainability. I get to learn about and report on tons of cool things, some of which relates to Office Nomads. For instance, in the next issue, I have a story coming out about smart development of dense communities where people are encouraged to live and work in the same neighborhood. Sound familiar? One of the most salient items I learned about is a small piece of software that I hope coworkers (and others) the world over download and try out: GreenPrint.

GreenPrint is a small, free software program that eliminates one of the most annoying and wasteful aspects of doing business in the digital age. It cuts down on the number of unneeded pages that get printed when you need to commit a Web page to paper. You know the problem: You go to print a page from the Web, say a map with directions, and there’s that second page with nothing but the URL and a line of text that says “Back to Top.” Totally frustrating. GreenPrint gets rid of those pages and allows the user to make a multitude of adjustments to the program to eliminate as many of those pages as possible. It can also provide a preview of all Web pages you want to the pages, trees and pounds of CO2 you’ve saved. Which will be a lot. Check out these facts from GreenPrint (they have more environmental facts available, if you’re interested).

  • Average cost of a wasted page $0.062
  • Average employee prints 6 wasted pages per day, that’s 1,410 wasted pages per year!3
  • The average U.S. office worker prints 10,000 pages per year3
  • While 3 out of 4 office workers print from the Internet, 90% of people with a printer at home print Internet content4
  • 56% of people ages 45-54 print pages from the Internet for their archives, and only 33% of people ages 18-34 do the same4

So take a a few minutes on this Friday afternoon and download GreenPrint. You won’t be sorry you did. And neither will the rest of us!