Here’s to you, coworking

It’s August 9th, 2013 – Coworking Day! Coworking is being celebrated all over the world today – in big cities, small towns, and rural coworking gatherings alike. Today is a day for us to reflect on all that has happened in the 8 years since Brad Neuberg threw down his original blog post in 2005, and to dream of what the next 8 – nah, 80 years may bring.

Initial Open House

Susan and Jacob, visited by Noel for our grand opening in 2007

Since I first sat down to coffee with Jacob 6 years ago, my life has changed. The coming about of Office Nomads – from my initial dreams on a walk to work until the day we threw open our doors – is something I absolutely cannot imagine my life without. Sure, it has been a crazy journey becoming a small business owner, but that is by far the least interesting part about my life since Office Nomads began. The meat of the matter is being a part of a budding international movement designed to live and work better together, and how coworking cracked open the city of Seattle for me, introducing me to an amazing group of people who I likely would never have met otherwise.

Coworking Day is an opportunity for me to remember Office Nomads’ roots – the early days on the Coworking Google Group, diving into a “wiki” (yeah, I had no idea what that was) to learn and contribute what I could, blogging about everything, visiting fellow spaces in Portland, San Francisco, Philadelphia, excitedly helping to launch the Coworking Visa program, pre-SXSWi beers with the only other people in the world who had heard of “coworking.” It was so. Much. Fun. And such hard work. We were building something new using the pieces we loved about artist lofts, cafes, networking groups, and yes – the regular ol’ office. It took time. It was exciting. It was challenging. We made mistakes. But we hit some things out of the park. And every step of the way I knew that what we were building wasn’t just about Jacob & I “us.” It was the Coworking Community “us.”

Within our own space in our own city here in the northwest corner of the US of A, coworking has been a day-to-day lesson in the great rewards that come from inviting people over. Office Nomads has introduced me to more amazing people that I certainly wouldn’t have crossed paths with otherwise. I’ve learned so much over the last 6 years about such a wild range of topics it is incredible. I know that I am not the only one who has had this experience. I hear members meet one another every day that may not have otherwise that realize they have a shared interest, a reason to work together, or just have a need to head out for a cup of coffee at the same time. It’s incredible stuff. It is accelerated serendipity, but in the least accelerated way possible – through the careful, slow, and deliberate act of working alongside one another over time. Introducing ourselves when we are ready to. Saying hi on the day we’re feeling a little less shy.

Back in late 2008, a small group of fellow coworking spaces started getting together in Seattle, planting seeds for what would become Coworking Seattle and then the Seattle Collaborative Space Alliance. Because if we took all of the lessons we learned in our space and applied them to a wider circle, it meant making strong connections with the people who would be our greatest strength in ensuring the coworking would make it in Seattle – our fellow coworking spaces. And now we have an organization with 20+ spaces participating with a kick-ass mission: “We are here to unify, support and promote the coworking and collaborative space movement in Seattle.”

I’m not sure it gets much better than that.

Happy birthday, coworking. And here’s to many, many more years of great things to come.