Coworking.org, 2017 and beyond!

A note from Tony, after the GCUC Canada conference:

Amy and I just got back from a coworking conference in Montreal, where I had the privilege of meeting some amazing leaders from around the region and the world. (See video of my talk here!)

As I settle back in here in Boulder, I find myself reminded why I got into this coworking thing in the first place: to help people see what’s possible in this new way of work.

We’re in a huge state of transition as a society, so it’s important to create every opportunity possible for people to connect with peers who can help them make the transition. So now let’s talk about where we’re going to go from here!

Super short version: I’m making a fresh push to continue improving the free resources tthat power the coworking movement. If you’d like to help, give me feedback / support / spread the word on our new fundraiser and let me know if you’re interested in creating new content for your city or language on coworking.org!

Quick update

It’s now just over a year since I stepped in to help out here at OC, and just a few days before GCUC Canada convenes once again. I’m using the event as an opportunity to take stock of what we did and where I’d like us to go.

Last year, I was just a few months out from closing up New Work City and searching hard for my next paying gig. I wanted Open Coworking to become something that could employ me full time, but I failed to raise the funds we’d need to support that. As a result, I spent most of 2016 doing whatever I could to find the security I needed to be able to act from a place of strength and not desperation.

I’m happy to report that I’ve now achieved that security, which means I can approach all of this free of the personal pressure that I brought last time around.

While I’d still love for Open Coworking to be something I can work on full-time, I’ve realized that it’ll only happen if I focus on stacking one brick at a time to make it into something that is mature enough to employ people.

This year and going forward, I’d like to focus less on big goals and more on continuous small steps forward.

What we’ve done so far

All of that can be found in detail in the 2016 Open Coworking Impact Report.

In short, we made a lot of progress, and have much work still left to do.

2016-17 Agenda

I want to build on all the good work we did in the past year. In particular:

Implement multi-language support on coworking.org, so people interested in the movement can find resources in any language we can find a volunteer to help us with.

    • Overhaul the Coworking Visa program, finally!
    • Create resources in multiple languages. Most of the coworking world doesn’t speak English, so we’ll work with bilingual friends to create pages on coworking.org that connect people to the resources that are available to them in their native tongue.
    • Work on replacing the wiki. The wiki is horribly outdated, but still super valuable. With the help of volunteers, we can slowly start re-imagining this thing.
  • Raise some more funds! We’ve got a new draft campaign up on Patreon, so it will be easier for people to contribute and get regular updates.

I want to go much further, of course, but I’d rather aim for things I realistically believe we can tackle and build on those successes first. Generally speaking, I’d love to continue working to mature the organization.

What you can do to help

    • Become a patron on our campaign! If you’re not already an OC Supporter, any contribution would be a huge help. Sign up here and let me know any feedback you have on your experience!
    • Spread the word! Send people to our campaign and tell them why their support is important.
  • Volunteer! I’m recruiting folks to contribute to the new coworking.org. Reply to this email if you’re interested in learning more!

Thanks for all of your help. Keep being awesome!

Cheers,
Tony

Meet the new coworking.com!

Back in 2010, Alex Hillman was approached by the people who owned coworking.com about a buyer who had made an offer on the domain that they couldn’t refuse.

They figured they’d rather the domain be put in the hands of people who cared about the movement, so long as they could match the offer price.

Alex threw down the gauntlet on the Coworking Google Group, challenging the community to band together and pledge nearly $10,000 in under 24 hours. The community responded with overwhelming support, easily clearing the hurdle with room to spare. 

When it came to securing control of coworking.com, there was no shortage of support to be had.

In fact, one of the biggest debates that arose after the initial round of fundraising was centered on the fact that more people weren’t given the opportunity to contribute. What a great problem to have!

Over the ensuing weeks, long and heated debates were had over how to handle the ownership and management of the domain, which included coworking.org as well. As the movement is decentralized and thousands of people, without any formal decisionmaking body, these conversations unsurprisingly resulted in little decisive action.

Failing at a better consensus, Alex pledged to manage and host the domain on behalf of the movement, putting up a simple site inviting people to learn more about coworking by joining the Google Group or visiting one of the other resources.

Coworking.com circa 2010-2012
The original coworking.com site, post domain purchase, circa 2010-2012.

What Alex ultimately launched was in line with Chris Messina’s suggestion:

I also would caution against trying to create a massive or feature-rich site on coworking.com. I really like workatjelly.com for its straightforwardness and simplicity — and think that coworking.com should follow this model.

That site lasted about two years in its earliest form before the next major revision.

In March of 2012, I worked with Alex to launch a new design of the site. Upgrades included thumbnails of the core sites and more links to other handy resources some of us had developed.

Coworking.com circa 2012-2016
My redesign, circa 2012. At some point in my life, I considered this a good design. I am, thankfully, no longer at that point in my life.

For the ensuing four years, the site would sit relatively untouched.

As the person who designed that site, I’d like to apologize for allowing it to exist for as long as it has.

I’ve always considered coworking.com to be a grossly underutilized opportunity to introduce people to the movement. Hopefully no more.

There are still a lot of people learning about coworking for the first time out there; I’d love it if the first thing they find about coworking when they search for it is something that represents the movement in a way that does it justice.

I don’t know that anything I create will live up to that standard, but after joining Open Coworking last Fall I decided we should at least give it our best effort.

Over the past few months, in the time I could spare, I began working on a new design for coworking.com. With a few more years of web development experience under my belt, I felt hopeful I’d be able to create something more worthy of such an important domain.

After many revisions and a few rounds of feedback among fellow coworkers, I’m proud to share the new coworking.com!

Behold:

Screen Shot 2016-04-23 at 12.30.40 PM

This site puts the resources first, explains the backstory of how coworking got started, and talks a little bit about the core values. It also features a simple brand for coworking that is being unified across the other sites where possible.

It’s simple, neutral, and tries to convey the spirit behind the movement.

I could go so much further with it, and look forward to continuing to refine it. But, for now, I hope it will be at least a little bit of a better introduction to a movement that has changed so many lives for the better.

Thanks to our supporters

Our supporters are responsible for making it possible for us to dedicate the resources to being able to rebuild this web site; thanks to them for backing us!

What’s next

We’ll continue to refine the site (please share your feedback with us!) and make small ongoing improvements to the other sites, but we also want to set our sights higher.

Among our next possible areas of focus:

1. A serious overhaul of the Coworking Visa program.

I already have a pretty good idea of how to make tremendous leaps and bounds of improvement here with relatively little effort, thanks to a fortuitous conversation I had with Minna Van from The Network Hub in Vancouver, which has effectively been leading the Visa efforts for the past several years.

It will still require some focus and some technical work, so it will be tremendously helpful if we’re able to recruit the financial help of some more supporters.

2. Better volunteer management.

Dozens and dozens of people have registered over the years to help us in our efforts to maintain and improve the movement’s resources, but we haven’t yet put together sufficient energy to manage those volunteers well.

We’ve got no shortage of projects large and small to work on, but just need to allocate a little more energy to gathering and empowering people.

We’ll look at how to do this better soon. If you’d like to help us, become a supporter or help spread the word to those who might be willing to chip in.

3. So many better resources.

Someone discovering the coworking movement today still must wade through countless wiki pages, Google Groups posts, blog posts, and general noise to be able to take advantage of the collective wisdom that’s been accumulated over the years.

This can all be organized better. Using the Coworking Wiki and the Coworking Blog, we should be able to do a better job of gathering and displaying key information that can help people learn what they need to avoid common mistakes and incorporate healthy practices early.

Want to help?

We could use all the help we can get! There are two main ways to help:

1. Become a supporter!

Annual supporters give us the critical funds we need to be able to continue working on the above projects and more. For as little as $100 per year, you can do a huge amount of good in helping us do what we do. Learn more and become a supporter here!

2. Volunteer!

We’ll be reaching out to potential volunteers in the coming weeks. Register for updates to learn more about how to get involved.

Thanks to all the folks who have helped us get to where we are today. Onward!

We’re partnering with the European Coworking Assembly!

european-coworking-assembly-logo-compactWe’re excited to announce an official partnership with the European Coworking Assembly, an organization founded and run by some of the most established  visionaries and champions of the coworking movement, including Ramon Suarez of Betacowork and author of The Coworking Handbook, Jean-Yves Hurwart and Anis Bedda of the Coworking Europe conference, Manuel Zea Barral of WorkingSpace, CoworkingSpain.es, and the first Coworking Spain Conference, Eric van den Broek of Mutinerie and CoPass, and many more.

A veritable all-star team of people who are dedicated to the healthy growth of coworking in a continent that’s home to perhaps the most dense and diverse concentration of coworking spaces anywhere on earth.

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We’re looking forward to working with the ECA to spread the good word about coworking to people, organizers, and governments everywhere.

We are coworking!

Who wants to celebrate coworking with us?

Written by Tony Bacigalupo.

I just returned from the Coworking Europe conference in Milan, where I had the good fortune of meeting people from over a dozen different countries who are passionate about coworking and the good it can do for the people in their regions.

It was, as always, an inspiration to be around so many awesome folks, but I couldn’t help but come way feeling hungry for something more. I got this feeling like a lot of people care about this coworking thing, but so few feel like they fully understand it and fewer still feel comfortable talking about it with pride and fervor.

This movement deserves celebration. We know how awesome it is, how impactful it is, how much good it can do for the people who get to be a part of it. But that story’s not out there, not nearly enough. People talk about coworking like it’s a slightly different way to share office space, and that doesn’t do this thing justice. Not even close.

This isn’t just about renting desks, dammit. I want to shift that story. The people who have been a part of this movement have been proud of coworking, but I think we can go further to be not just proud but vocally, visibly, forcefully proud.

I want to see us inspiring others not just to start a coworking space in their community, but to join a movement that is changing things for the better.

Coworking helps independent workers battle isolation. Coworking empowers peers to develop their own economies in environments where job opportunities might otherwise not exist. Coworking gives people ways to hire each other, to make more money, to make friends, to feel like they belong to something.

And I refuse to let anyone think of it as anything less.

Working with Open Coworking, I intend over the next year to raise the profile of coworking as a movement and not just a business trend. I intend to do that by continuing to develop better systems to rally volunteers to help us make improvements to the existing resources we have, so they’ll be things we’re proud to send people to. The wiki, the blog, all these things we have will only serve the next generation if we give them the love and care they deserve.

As we go, we’ll share our story of what we’re doing with others so they can feel invited to join. We’ll do a round of fundraising to help us get something we need but don’t yet have: a real budget to hire people to do actually focus on working on the movement.

Then, we’ll use our growing new platform to go further. We’ll create better resources to educate organizers. We’ll develop better ways to collect impact data that coworking spaces can use to prove the impact they have. And we’ll look for ways to advocate on behalf of the movement in conversations with institutions and governments who should be involved.

A few things to ask of you:

  • Send us a few photos (or links to photos) of your community and space. Anything you’re proud of will do; of course pictures with people in them are preferred 🙂 (Email tony [at] opencoworking.org!)
  • Let me know if you know any great up-and-coming designers who would be willing to do a little bit of volunteer or low-pay work for us, with the prospect of some paid work down the line? I’m looking for someone who’d be game to do some graphics as well as some web design.
  • Submit a story to the Global Coworking Blog. A story of an experience you’ve had that gives you insight or inspiration. (Email us: info [at] opencoworking.org)
  • Join for an upcoming volunteer event. We’ll be updating the Coworking Wiki, developing best practices, discussing improvements to the Coworking Visa and more. Join one of our upcoming events here.
  • Become a supporter. We’re looking for folks to kick in $100/year so we can hire people to focus on growing this movement. Learn more here.

Lastly, perhaps you’d like to help me see if we can get a little trend started. I’d like to get some propaganda rolling for coworking, starting with some very simple imagery.

I’ve drafted some materials here:

https://www.dropbox.com/sh/a49ec97fzq40qx8/AAD7eKfWO76aMk42slvpVUt3a?dl=0

We are coworking.

It’s an act, it’s an identity, and it’s ours.

If you like it, let me know. I’m happy to produce different shapes/sizes/versions if you want to embed this with a link on your site.

Vive le coworking!
Tony

Help us end indie isolation in your city.

No one is an island. If you start working for yourself without finding or forming a community of people to help you, you’re exposed to struggle. You can’t get your questions answered, you don’t have any external perspectives to help you see what you can’t see yourself, but, perhaps most importantly, you just don’t have a sense that you belong to something bigger than yourself.

Coworking communities can solve all of this. The reason it’s becoming such a massive movement is because of this very desire.

The problem is, it’s become far too easy to settle for just making a nice looking workspace without really focusing on why.

Do these kinds of places really achieve what they’re supposed to? Are these spaces acting as cultural centers where people forge genuine, deep, lasting bonds, or are they just giving people a place to plug in and get to work, in closer proximity but in hardly any less isolation?

The world needs coworking communities that are dedicated to helping connect isolated independent workers, so no one has to feel alone.

This isn’t just about getting people into the same room. This is about actively fostering the bonds between the people who are building the fabric of the new economy, one personal connection at a time.

The new economy is a networked one. The individual nodes that weave the new web of interconnected work will connect, online and offline, through the networks that we create.

We believe in a world in which anyone anywhere should be able to easily find or form a community of people to belong to.

If you believe the same, consider joining our ranks as a volunteer or as a supporter. It’s a big world out there, and we need all the help we can get. Especially in your home town!

Become a volunteer or a supporter today!

PHASE 1: Make it easier for people to get started and successful, in the right way!

The answers are out there. There’s simply no reason why anyone should have to figure out some of the most basic or even more advanced problems on their own anymore.

We’re putting together the ultimate compilation of answers to common questions, so we can stop duplicating effort and focus on going further.

Among our goals:

  • Redesign coworking.com
  • Update the wiki design and content
  • Compile Best Practices

Want to help? Register for an upcoming session, where we’ll work  in a virtual space to develop and improve these resources together. Register for updates here or visit our Facebook page to be notified of the next session.

PHASE 2: Set the movement up to evolve and grow even stronger.

Next year we’d like to tackle more elaborate projects, like overhauling the Coworking Visa, developing a better global map of coworking spaces, conducting impact studies and more. Read more about our plans here.


For now, we’re focused on forming a foundation for an organization that will be able to support the healthy growth of the movement for many years to come.

But for that to happen, we first need your support getting things off the ground.

Help us raise $10,000 in annual support by the end of the year.

We want our largest base of support to come from individuals and owners of small businesses who believe what we believe.

If you can spare as little as $100 per year (only $8.33/month), we would make very good use of your contribution!

Regardless of the kind of support you can give us yourself, we would love help spreading the word about what we’re doing and in particular reaching people who want to support our efforts. Help us reach potential supporters by letting anyone who you think would be interested know about us and what we’re up to!

Are you ready to help us ensure no indie worker one ever has to feel alone again? 

Register as a volunteer or as a supporter today!

Who are we?

We’re a team of people who are completely committed to the advancing of the coworking movement as a vehicle for eradicating indie loneliness anywhere and everywhere.

tony-fancypants-500
Tony Bacigalupo – I’ve been obsessed with coworking since I first discovered it happening in a loft apartment in Manhattan in 2007. Since then, I started and ran one of NYC’s first coworking spaces, New Work City, from 2008 until 2015. Now, I’m focusing on helping people build better coworking communities through Open Coworking and through my own personal consulting.
jeannine-van-der-linden
Jeannine van Der Linden – The standing executive director of Open Coworking, founder of the de Kamer network of coworking spaces in the Netherlands.
oren-salomon
Oren Salomon – Founder of Dallas Fort Work, and leader of the new Coworking Map Project.
melissa-geissinger
Melissa Geissinger – Founder of WIMP Space and Coworking Sonoma Alliance, originator of the Coworking Leadership Slack Channel.
jacob-sayles
Jacob Sayles– Original founder of Open Coworking, cofounder of Office Nomads in Seattle, and creator of the Nadine open source software platform for coworking spaces.
juli-genovisi
Juli Genovesi – Executive Director of NonprofitLeader.org, a collaborative shared office for nonprofit and social purpose organizations or anyone trying to change the world, and volunteer nonprofit consultant for Open Coworking

…and over 100 supporters, volunteers and advisors from all over the world.

If you’d like to help us, don’t wait. We need your help right now to get this off the ground!

Register as a volunteer or as a supporter today!

Join us for a Coworking Wiki Spruce-up Session!

If you’ve ever visited the Coworking Wiki before, you probably know two things:

  1. It’s a tremendous resource, offering unparalleled access to information about coworking happening everywhere.
  2. It’s messy as hell.

We’re going to start working to address that. Our plan is as follows:

  1. Develop Editorial Guidelines
  2. Develop easy-to-copy templates
  3. Rally people to help update the wiki pages for their cities

We’re already well on our way to having the first two items ready (see our draft Editorial Guidelines here and draft template wiki page here; what do you think?)

This direction takes the wiki away from being an open-ended directory where anyone can add anything, and more towards a Wikipedia-like approach, where each page is an article about a topic.

Our first main area of focus is on cities, where most of the activity on the wiki is taking place. On the new City Pages, the primary focus of the content will be to tell the story of coworking in that city and to share information about all of the different ways people can connect. That includes not just spaces but Meetup groups, directories, local alliances, and so on.

Our new approach also introduces a sidebar, where photos can be tastefully posted without overwhelming the main content area.

Basing everything off a new set of Editorial Guidelines gives us a way of being able to communicate and act in a coordinated way, so we have a unified idea of the correct approach to a given page. Without that, a person may not know how best to update a page with the content they want to share, and hence messiness!

These are small but potentially very important steps toward a more effective wiki. Considering the enormous number of people who use the wiki to learn more about coworking every single day, making it better will be to the benefit of everyone.

To participate:

  1. RSVP to our event on Facebook for reminders and to help us spread the word!
  2. Join the Coworking Leadership Slack Channel, where we’ll be coordinating our activities, here: http://coworking-leadership-slackin.herokuapp.com/ 
  3. Request access to the wiki and mention that you’re participating in this event: http://wiki.coworking.org/w/request-access

We’ll see you there!

What tools have changed your life in managing your coworking space?

Reporting live from the GCUC Canada 2015 unconference day! The below are quoted, but in many cases are paraphrased. If I misquoted you, let me know!

What tools are your favorites?

Google Groups: Tried and true!

Groupbuzz: Like Google Groups but better! (Sam Abrams, Indy Hall)

Slack: (Sam Abrams)

Zapier: Connects things like signup forms and Google Calendar “That’s 32 times I didn’t have to look at my email, manually put it in my calendar, and ask Shane if he was going to handle it” (Angel)

Trello: (Sam Abrams)

FreshBooks! (Not by a FreshBooks employee!)

Cobot: “I just emailed Thilo and said ‘hey, I need you to make a global change to these 85 people and he said ‘all done, what else can I do for you?'”— Angel

CRMS?

  • Zoho:
  • Streak: “Plugs into Gmail”
  • Insightly: “I had some issues with it but I liked it”
    • “No CRM is perfect; find the one that’s closest for you”

Survey Monkey: “We used polls to ask people to rate things to see how important things are to them. We people weight things by priority.” — Carly Nix, Industry Lab

Huge sticky notes: “Would you rather have better lighting, or better desks?” Good for when you only have enough budget for one!

Amazon Prime! “Yes!” “Yes!”

Member photo wall, using Chromecast and WordPress. ChromeCast displays the WordPress page, which is updated with the photos. —Sam Abrams

What are we lacking? What do we need?

Sam: Attendance. We just use our eyeballs. People slip through. It isn’t perfect.

With the wifi APs you can log attendance. But it requires tech savvy and work.

Inside App – you can sign in and auto-generate email – Carter Ellis, Loading Dock Raleigh

Seltzer – Open source platform that does similar things — Carly Nix, Industry Lab

One of our members created an app for property managers, so it’s easy for managers to push information to members. People can set how often they want to hear from us, but if there’s an emergency, we can contact them no matter what. It’s called Mona. Launching next month. $1/user/year. (Suzy Renzi, Brightlane)

Alternative: Business Texter. (Tamara Payne)

Emergency Handbook:

Here’s the landlord’s contact info

Here’s where the nearest hospital is

Here are the numbers for the IT admin, super, other critical people

“It’s not a perfect tool, but you can do that with Trello” (Sam)

Epi Pen. Benadryl. First aid kit. Fire extinguishers.

Cameras: Dropcam.

 

How do I attract members? Notes from the marketing unconference session at GCUC Canada

Reporting live from the GCUC Canada 2015 unconference day! The below are quoted, but in many cases are paraphrased. If I misquoted you, let me know!

“We run a monthly First Friday open house. The conversion rate is not so great, but it’s something we can point people to when they want to come see the space.”—Geoff Wood, Gravitate DSM

“When we were short on members and the culture was weak, I wanted to find a way to attract people without just trying to say I was another great workspace. I wanted to give people an excuse to come in on a specific day to meet other people who were new and spend time working together on something specific. I used Cotivation, which was my version of a Mastermind in a coworking space, and it worked really well.”—Tony (me!)

“Take your friend to work day” once a quarter

“Your best marketing is your membership. We’re pretty quick to introduce a newcomer to a member we think they might be interested in meeting.”

“Most of our members that come, come through our membership. That’s where you should invest your marketing. If you’re going to run an event, make sure your members are there. The best connection to the space is always through the member.”—Chad Ballantyne, The Creative Space

CSI does a ‘Salad Club’ once a week. Everybody brings one protein and one vegetable. Everyone can make the Perfect Salad Bar. They invited a local farm to be stationed there. People booked meetings during that time and encouraged guests to check out the farmers market. People ended up wanting to stay in instead of going out to lunch.”

How do you get people to pay attention?

“We try to tell them at least ten times. A month in advance, over email, in person, as many channels as possible”—Carly Mix, Industry Lab

“Fun partnerships are really important. You can only reach so many people yourself, but if you partner with someone who shares something in common with you, or finding niche newsletters, you are actually able to get to people you might not reach on your own because it’s their demographic.”—Noah Wallach, WeWork

 

Where do you want this movement to go? Help us build the organization coworking needs. 

Hi there! Tony here. I’ve recently joined Open Coworking with the intention of helping it become an organization that can hire people to better maintain and improve publicly available resources and actively advocate for the coworking movement in ways no one else can.

It’s a big task, with a lot of possible directions to go. To start, I want to find the people who are willing to step up to help shape the future of the organization.

If you’re interested in being one of the first people to get involved, we’re looking for official pledges of support from 100 people by the end of September. These 100 people, aside from being thanked publicly, will be invited to participate in the process of deciding what kinds of projects we focus on. From there, we’ll continue to rally more support as we begin tackling projects.

100 people. $100/year. Open Coworking’s starting budget for our new campaign to help the coworking movement be what we dreamed of it being.

Are you up for being one of our first 100 supporters? Register here!

 

 

About

Open Coworking is an organization advocates for the global coworking movement and the core values that drive it. All around the world, people are fighting the loneliness that comes with working alone at home or in cafes by gathering in shared spaces to work alongside one another. As thousands and thousands of people continue to form and join these communities around the world, the collective impact and importance of these communities continues to grow.

We are here to support the healthy development of a way of working that gives people a way to forge new, more intentional, more healthy relationship with their personal and professional lives. As the workforce continues its shift away from traditional full-time employment towards more flexible and independent lifestyles, the need for new support systems follows accordingly. When it comes to traditional employment, many of the core components of a healthy work-life are accounted for: where to work, who to report to, how much money you’ll be making and when you’ll get paid, how much vacation time you can take, how health care and retirement and taxes are accounted for, how your performance is measured, and countless other things.

When you work for yourself, you have to figure everything out on your own. But you shouldn’t have to. Coworking is an emergent phenomenon that is providing a foundation for a networked, self-organized alternative to traditional employment as a core support system. Like the new workforce, it’s peer-to-peer, without a hierarchical power structure. It supports individual autonomy, allowing each person to choose when, where, how, and with whom to work, while still providing the critical structure that’s needed to ensure each individual isn’t on their own.

The coworking movement unites thousands of organizers, space owners, and enthusiasts who all share a passion for helping to facilitate the growth of this new way of working. Open Coworking is dedicated to supporting this movement and the people who are building it.