Coworking Signals

The little moments that happen within the bounds of a coworking community are some of the best examples of the coworking movement’s ability to make an impact. These moments are rarely newsworthy, but are incredibly important and are so much of the “why” behind what coworking is all about. So why not try to shine the light on these moments and see what happens?

Welcome to #coworkingsignals.

I introduced this little idea to the giant bullhorn festival that is Twitter and was happily surprised when I got my first response:

Andy

And then I got another one:

GoneCoworking

And even more. Some of them in French. Ou là là!

Foundery

Cohere

YES! This is what I’m talking about. The “why” of coworking is so rarely touched on because it can be so small. But added up over time, it is pretty powerful stuff.

Please join me in adding your voice to the mix. I’d love to hear what you have to say!

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!

Spring Photo Contest!

work from home

We know working from home isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. For some it works out delightfully well – peaceful, quiet, focused. But for many (and we’ve heard from thousands of you over the years) it’s rife with distractions, lonely, and uncomfortable. We’ve heard your stories, but nothing quite says it like a picture. Show us how bad it can be!

Send us photos of your best (aka worst) home office setups. Whether you’re programming at the kitchen table, crammed into the local café, or attempting to get some work done with a puppy in the house (like Teal, above), we want to see what you’re attempting to work through. Photos can be spontaneous or staged, and we won’t judge you at all if you put your pets or your kids in the photo to get extra points.

The individual with the best photo will win a one-month membership to Office Nomads at any membership level (key card access not included). Send your submissions to photocontest@officenomads.com. We’ll be posting some of our favorites to both our Facebook Page and Twitter Feed. Submission deadline is Friday April 18th at 6pm.

Show us your worst, Seattle!

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.

Cultivating Useful Connections


Networking

This is the first in a series entitled “Nomadic

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Encounters” – stories of cool projects seeded, germinated, and cultivated through encounters at Office Nomads.

When you get asked to a networking event, do you think “Cool! Free wine, cheese, and interesting new people!” or “Oh no! Cheesy people whining and trying to sell me things!”? That’s the dilemma Office Nomads faced – we know our members love to connect and create useful projects, but should we call it networking? “Networking” short-changes the real connections that happen within our community, and so instead we’d like to introduce you the first of many stories of “Nomadic Encounters.”

One project happening now is a member-driven idea called The Numad Program (it is an evolution of the Nomad-in-Residence Program if you remember that one). We selected one individual who was embarking on a professional transition, gave them a discounted resident membership, and most importantly collected a team of members who were interested in volunteering their time to help the “Numad” gain traction in their transition during a three-month period.

Our first Numad is Mandy Egle, a grammar and pronunciation coach for non-native English speakers. While Mandy is an expert possessing magical knowledge that unlocks the secret of saying “my car” differently from “mike are” – one that works fantastically whether your brain was wired listening to conversations in Bangladesh, Senegal, or Buenos Aires – she lacked the technical and business skills to upgrade her website, pronuncian.com, into the best tool for learning.

“I’m forging ahead but I don’t know what I’m doing,” said Mandy. With the help of other Nomads like intellectual property attorney Mike Morita, designer and engineer Trevor Smith, financial analyst Javier Soto, game developer Pat Kemp, and myself, Mandy is creating a project plan to achieve her dream, a site “that learners can really interact with and learn from in a profound way.” One that includes gamification so learning is more engaging for students.

“As a teacher, I have a list of students’ excuses for why they aren’t advancing,” Mandy told us. From this she has been able to develop a number of tools and podcasts to help them practice more effectively when she can’t be there.

And while pronuncian.com has been around since 2007, and now gets 70,000 visits per month, she wants to make that system more useful and available to students that live nowhere near Seattle. “We called it Project Morocco, because our vision was to enable Mustafa in Marrakesh to be able to speak as well as Cho in Seattle.”

What’s the goal? To double the usefulness of her site, to better help students around the world develop American English fluency so they can tap higher paying jobs, and to be virtually available 24/7/365 so she and her family can spend more time sailing their 37-foot cat-sloop named Rosie around the Salish Sea and Pacific Ocean.

Over the next few months, Mandy will meet with her team and develop a plan to make her transition happen. And I’ll be writing about it here; so stay in touch!

Kevin Owyang is a member of Office Nomads and Digital Strategist for Game-Changers. When not developing new strategies to amplify social entrepreneurs across new media, he can be found making independent films or hanging with his dog on Capitol Hill.

 

Member Profile: Matt Kuphaldt

Matt_Kuphaldt

Matt Kuphaldt, freelance creative genius (that’s our declaration, not his), came to Office Nomads in 2011 and quickly discovered it to be a perfect place to do his graphic design, animation, and illustration work. Most days in the space, Matt is hand-drawing directly into his computer or tablet, crafting unique works for

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his clients or for his independent productions. His art has graced the walls of Office Nomads and galleries alike, and he’s currently engaged in museum-exhibit design. Matt will tell you that he may have already hit the apex of his career already, as he’s got his very own profile up on the Transformers Wiki.Where does a guy go from there?

When he’s not at Nomads, Matt loves puzzle events and festivals, and hikes up the occasional mountain or large hill.

You can check out Matt’s portfolio here: http://spektakle.com

Meet the Community Cultivators!

We have a great crew of Community Cultivators helping out in and around the space right now, and we wanted to introduce them to you!

Anisha_ShankarAnisha and her team are crafting ways to turn human waste into a biogas power source. Which means she is basically going to save the world. Like any respectable superhero, she is also volunteering her time to be a Community Cultivator so she can create some pretty impressive change around the Office Nomads space as well.

We are so lucky to have Anisha back on the Community Cultivation team after she took some time off to participate in Fledge. Anisha is always happy to sit down with her fellow Nomads to share in some deep and enlightening conversations, and just might qualify as one of the most humble people around. Seriously. Just try to get her to brag. Try.

Erin_Fossum
Erin
is the owner and operator of McAllister/Fossum Appraisal Service, LLC. She moved to Seattle from Minneapolis in 2006 to get her Master’s degree in Art History, and has been loving the area ever since. Erin specializes in appraising art, antiques & residential contents. In addition, she does appraisals for a variety of purposes, including insurance, estates, donations and resale.

Outside the office, Erin is an avid pub trivia host as well as a member on an intramural kickball team—which she admits everyone takes far too seriously. She is also a big musical theater geek and a general sports fanatic — whether it is baseball, football, or hockey season, you can find her cheering for her favorite teams.

Heather_GoodwinHeather is a freelance marketer and social media maven. She has extensive experience in marketing for long-term relationship building, as well as an ability to use social media to engage with a variety of target audiences while conveying a client’s core message.

On a personal note, Heather is an avid reader, knitter, and sci-fi/fantasy fan. When she isn’t reading sociological or anthropological accounts of society or culture, you can find her immersed in the world of sci-fi/fantasy literature or having a lively debate about the wonderful world of Star Trek.

Nathan_Cliber

Knate is our resident fun-loving ball of energy. His smile and laugh can brighten even the dreariest Seattle day. Knate works as a family law attorney by day, working for “families of all shapes and sizes.” In addition, he holds a fiery affection for theater and acting, which manifested itself in the form of an undergraduate degree.

Knate is the epitome of an extrovert, and enjoys every aspect of working at the front table with us. If you need something else to talk to him about, Knate has a keen interest in tabletop role playing games and game design. Or you could always ask him about the most recent mix tape he has constructed. Whatever the topic, he’ll be game to have a chat!

Paola_Jaime

Paola is a superstar Spanish instructor, medical interpreter, and content developer for online Spanish learning programs. She loves to help people learn languages and is very excited to have found the perfect environment for her group classes here at Office Nomads– where she offers free language orientations. Paola is also happy to help with whatever else our Nomads need, so drop by and ask her whatever burning question you have on your mind!

Outside of the office, Paola is currently obsessed with Argentine Tango dancing and music. Don’t know what Argentine Tango is all about? Paola would send you here to watch a fun video showing what Argentine Tango really looks like (no, no on is holding a rose in their mouth while they dance).

Chelsea_McClainNEW

Chelsea is our fearless leader of the Community Cultivator team here at Office Nomads, who never ceases to amaze us with her insight and joyful presence! When she isn’t working hard at the front desk handling all the odds and ends of daily operations and keeping the building from burning down, you can find her dancing or generally having a jolly good time. She is the embodiment of cheer and joy, and all of the Community Cultivators feel so blessed to have her in our lives. Chelsea is also the Queen of Waffle Wednesday, her delicious creations continually impress us and our taste buds.

Interested in becoming a Community Cultivator? Swing by the front desk and chat us up sometime. The position lasts 6 months so there are usually upcoming openings to join the team.

The Nomad-in-Residence Program Returns!

Come and spend some time with these smiley people.

Come and spend some time with these smiley people.

After running the  pilot version of the Nomad-in-Residence Program this summer, we are ready to bring this awesome community-supported membership back in 2013! Applications are now being accepted, and we’ll have the form open until January 15, 2013. Apply today, or send the link along to someone you think would be a great fit as our next Nomad-in-Residence.

What is the Nomad-in-Residence Program, you ask? It is a community-supported Resident membership designed to help bring a new Resident into our space for whom membership is currently financially out of reach. For a 3-month period, you receive 1/2 off your Resident membership thanks to the generous contributions by current members (which is then matched by Office Nomads). In exchange for having the barrier to entry for membership lowered, we hope that you’ll give back to the Office Nomads community by sharing your knowledge, hosting classes, or doing something else awesome that makes our community even stronger (even a little bit more than we all do normally, that is).

Questions? Comments? Wondering if you might be a good fit? Email susan@officenomads.com. I’ll be more than happy to help you out!

 

 

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.