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.