Entrepreneurs rightly see turbulent times as opportunities. I've noticed a lot of attention lately being paid to co-working (not cow-orking) space, a form of low-key office rental for individuals, entrepreneurs, and increasingly, job seekers and small-time consultants. Tiny office rentals are nothing new, and shared services (printers, faxes, phones, mail, coffee, even receptionists in some cases) in incubators and the like are also well-established. In a co-working space, there's relatively little in terms of services, often just desks and wireless internet, and usually you don't get any fixed or private space, with hoteling or common tables. What's interesting to me about co-working spaces is the social component.
Some time ago, college students went to the library or the computer lab to study, at least in part because that's where the books or computers were. As it became more common for students to have their own computers in their rooms (at first, just desktops) more study happened there. Now with laptops being the norm, things are all up in the air. But my point, such as it was, was that at the lab or library, you were alone but not alone: you were there to read your books, but you were among others reading theirs. It's a sort of quiet cameraderie, allowing for occasional breaks of collaboration or socializing but generally enforcing the norm of getting work done.
Here are some local co-working outfits, should you feel the need to ork:
Did I miss any?
I think many of the solo entrepreneurs, self-employed and unemployed miss or crave this odd form of companionship, and co-working space can provide this in a way that working at home or even in a coffeeshop cannot. Any co-workers out there? Can you confirm or deny my crackpot theory? What are the implications of this for office design in general, I wonder, and will co-working survive the economic recovery?