Does Coworking Have a Hyphen?

It may seem silly to you, but for some of us the question “Does coworking have a hyphen?” is a big deal.  When I first came into Office Nomads and began writing for them, it was something we discussed for a long time. We ended up saying no to the hyphen. Although my initial instincts were for the hyphen, I now like it without. Independents Hall’s Alex Hillman is firm in his stance that coworking does not have a hyphen while most media outlets (especially the older, mainstream ones) are in the it-has-a-hyphen camp (read: co-working).

But I have to admit that I still feel a bit of ambiguity about the issue. I thought it worth sharing since Alex is initiating another push on the issue and it seems like the good thing to do to make sure everyone is aware of the battle they’re entering.

My understanding comes from the fact that I work as a journalist for a living and as such, I can tell you exactly why coworking appears and will continue to appear as “co-working” in most publications.

It’s the fault of the Associated Press Style Guide which is pretty much the base of every newspaper and magazine style guide out there. It has rules for just about anything from how to refer to Ford Motor Co. on the second reference (“Ford” not “FMC”) to when and how what state names should be abbreviated (There are eight that are not abbreviated: the five with five or less letters and the two that are not on the continent) to punctuation rules.

The copy editor who follows AP (and most of them follow some form of it) is going to default to a hyphen because AP says to:

co- Retain the hyphen when forming nouns, adjectives and verb that indicate occupation or status: co-worker

Like it or not, any copy editor who sees that is going to change a reference to coworking to co-working. There’s even a note that many of the “co-” words that are listed in AP are in the dictionary without a hyphen, but are given one by AP in the “interest of consistency.” So even changing the dictionary won’t help, as Alex suggested. We’ve got to get the AP to notice. And they’ve got their hands full with a failing business model to manage and a world of news to cover so it may be a long road.

Of course, there are exceptions to every rule, and this one can be no exception. If coworking becomes well known enough by the public as opposed to co-working, media will have to change. But for now, big, old media is going to hyphenate and the smartest course of action may be to try and educate the smaller, online, and less formal media covering us.

One last word, then I’ll get off my geeky punctuation soapbox: It’s important to note that most likely, it is not the reporter’s fault if there is a hyphen. A reporter might write it without a hyphen and may even note that the word is spelled without a hyphen according to the industry, but if the copy editor decided that a hyphen is warranted, then there is nothing a beat or features reporter can do. (If someone like Thomas Friedman writes about coworking (And he should. It’s right up his alley.), he can put up a good fight with his copy editor and might get a change, so someone should pitch him on the idea.)

I took the image from a really interesting post by Jason Kintzler on about the relevance of AP in the new-media/Web 2.0 world. It’s worth the read.

What Does Coworking Look Like?

When I tell people I’m a journalist for a magazine with offices in Portland and San Francisco leaving just me in Seattle, the assumption is that I work at home. I then explain Office Nomads and coworking. More and more,  people realize they’ve heard of us or at least the concept of coworking. Rarely, I think, do they really get what coworking is. If you’re involved in coworking at all, you know how badly I want the questioners to understand that coworking is more than shared office space. That it’s community, incubation, colloboration, happy hours and zombie plans (more on that later).

Patrick from The Movement in Toronto has put together a podcast that is his attempt to explain coworking to the world. Actually, through a podcast he runs called Prototype, he’s letting some of the players in the movement explain it themselves. I just listened to the first two episodes and absolutely adored it. The show is a collection of voices from across the globe (literally) explaining the different feelings, set-ups, members, designs, business plans and other features of their coworking spaces. The result is an amazing cornucopia of the coworking possibilities that are out there. As different as each space and person sounds, they also all sound alike. As Patrick says on the Prototype blog:

In speaking with a friend about the podcast, I explained the amazing lesson was that all of these people sound like they’re describing the same place. In his subtle and knowing way, he responded: What I hear is that they are the same people.

Each episode is just a collection of the voices from different spaces explaining their space seemingly without prompting. That tight juxtaposition is what makes the differences and similarities so apparent. Butted up against each other, you hear statements such as:

“It’s shared office space.”

“We have a hot-desking policy…there’s no set desks.”

“It’s like a mobile phone tariff across the month.”

“You can be a tenant here if you can tell me why you’re a social innovator.”


“The space is a great loft.”

“We built a board room/library/kitchen that people can get some privacy in.”

“When we moved in, it was a bad looking, 80’s sort of of office.”

“The front door and the back door are both steel doors and they are zombie safe. They’re rated up to 50 zombies. We also have a zombie attack plan.”

“We’ve got  nice open plan kitchen and just behind that we have got a library area. It’s sort of cushions. People sleep in there, meditate in there.

It’s all so different, so unique. We are, after all, hearing from Colab, Office Nomads, Citizen Space, Station-C, Workspace, The Hub, and The Center of Social Innovation. And yet, they’re all similar in a way because wherever you go, coworking is obviously needed in a variety of different formats. I’m looking forward to learning more about the other spaces around the world, and to using this podcast to help explain the varieties of coworking  when I’m asked about it again in the future.

So you want to start a business?

So you want to start a business but don’t know where to, um, start? Trust me, many of us at Office Nomads have been there before. Heck, even Jacob and Susan who run the place still ask for advice and help from all sorts of people (like their own personal blogger, ahem!). Working in close proximity with a bunch of other folks who are at various stages of building their own businesses is a great reason to spend time at Office Nomads, but sometimes you need a little bit more direction than a casual chat with the person at the next desk. Thankfully Marcello at Seattle 2.0 put together The Ultimate Guide for the New Entrepreneur in Seattle, an excellent resource for anyone trying to create a business using just their wits and a great idea in the Emerald City.

Along with listing a number of great places to get work done, Marcello also identifies must-read books, some lawyers to talk to (while also explaining why you SHOULD talk to a lawyer), where to network and who to meet. It’s a great read and should be a part of any Seattle entrepreneur’s research.

Office Nomads is a Best Coworking Space

It’s a good day when you get listed as the best of anything. It’s a great day when you get listed with great companies and resources such as Biznik and The Village in Bellevue. That’s what happened here at Office Nomads yesterday when Betsy Talbot over at listed us as one of the best coworking spaces in the Seattle area for women.

As a man, I don’t think of Office Nomads as a resource for just women, since, obviously, it serves people of both sexes. But I think it’s pretty cool to be called out for that kind of recognition. I think it means that we have a supportive and welcoming atmosphere for all business people and that women running their own businesses can feel comfortable here. I also think the recognition on highlights the overall awesomeness of Susan, her visibility and activity in the larger community. She’s an amazing businesswoman who inspires me everyday so I can imagine that her success also inspires women involved in all sorts of businesses.

As for the other companies on the list, I think Dan McComb from Biznik explained very well why it feels so good to be listed with them: “We share a common interest in supporting small business people.” I can’t tell you how many times I’ve turned to the resources at Biznik, that have made me a better writer, reporter and business person. And it’s no secret that working in this space saved my sanity and made me more productive. Without a place to network like Biznik or spaces like The Village and Office Nomads, running an independent business wouldn’t be half as rewarding.

Government Support for Coworking

It’s not a Freddie Mac/Fannie Mae bailout or anything, but in England, at least one local government body is getting on the coworking train. Why is the Advantage West Midlands regional development agency trying to convince employers in the city of Birmingham to set up “tele-hubs” in the suburbs? They’re trying to cut down on commuting trips as a way of lowering carbon emissions.

Sound familiar? It should, Susan posted recently about the idea of neighborhood coworking centers as a trip-reduction strategy. We’re such leaders here at Office Nomads. Well, according to the blog that brought the Birmingham effort to our attention, Office Nomads is a “good example” of a coworking office!

Anyway, more on the Birmingham idea:

Birmingham commuters will work from shared offices located in the city’s suburbs in the future under plans being drawn up to tackle climate change.

The radical measure will see employers working side by side with staff from other firms at specially equipped out-of-city centre work hubs in a bid to cut down on carbon emissions caused by travel.

Cool huh? Too bad our government has so much to worry about right now, it could be a better way to reduce the price of oil than increasing drilling off our coasts. But then, that’s just me.

We’re on TeeVee!

Remember on Friday when I told you about the from KING5 coming to put together a story on coworking here at Office Nomads. It aired yesterday and is on the tubes today. Check out the Office Nomads TV news story.

Exciting Fridays

It’s the Friday before Memorial Day and that means it’s pretty quiet around these parts. Most people seem to be taking the day off to make a super-long weekend and those of us that aren’t don’t seem to be working all that hard.

There is some cool stuff going on today with the coolest being that a crew from KING-5 News came by to interview Susan and Jacob (and me!) for a piece on coworking they’re going to run on Monday. I While they were here, we took some pictures to document our teevee moment.

Pretty fun, eh? I personally like the shot where the camera is right in Erik’s face. It’s not easy to pretend you’re working with a camera breathing down your neck. Erik’s could at pretending to work though.

Watch KING5 morning news on Monday morning or check back here. We’ll link to the video when they put it up.

Also today, Alison from MassageWorks came in and gave us all free massages! Apparently she saw the story in Seattle Business Monthly that features Chris (member #1) Haddad and wanted to drop by and offer her services. Hopefully we can get her to come back again. If you’re curious about it, you can check out the video Chris shot with is new Flip Video.

If watching me get a massage isn’t all that exciting (it’s not), you can instead watch the below which is a response to Charlie Bit My Finger – Again!

LaunchPad Talks to Office Nomads

Launchpad logo

Thanks is due today to the great Austin, TX coworking space LaunchPad for a really good interview with Susan and Jacob they put up today.

It’s always fun to see what people want to know about this place and the team that put it together. It’s even more interesting when the questions come from folks who are also trying to set up their own coworking space. The interview contains some interesting nuggets from Susan and Jacob about their thoughts on the coworking “movement,” their strengths and weaknesses, and their feelings around the evolution of Office Nomads’ space. Well worth a read!

The Hits Keep on Coming

Following up on Susan’s Office Nomads news news at the end of last week is an interview with Susan herself on the Small Business Guru Podcast. It just keeps rolling around here!


It’s a proud day at Office Nomads, when we are able to share exciting publicity not only about ourselves, but one of our fantastic members! In TWO Seattle magazine articles this month, Office Nomads got a chance to shine.

Seattle Metropolitan

Office Nomads was featured under the category “Laudable Leaders” in Seattle Metropolitan Magazine for their “14 Hottest Companies” feature. It was an honor to be compared to many local companies who are also doing great work (including Susan’s “other” job – Cascadia Consulting Group!).

Seattle Business Monthly

Chris Haddad, our inaugural member, was on the COVER of Seattle Business Monthly! Congratulations, Chris! Office Nomads was also featured in the article, along side other coworking spaces such as My Day Office and Cafe Zoka.

We’re feeling pretty darned proud heading into the weekend!