Big City Hippies is a proud media sponsor for The Global Coworking Unconference Conference
(GCUC aka JUICY) happening October 4th to 6th! Big City Hippie Maddy touched base with Melissa Hope from The HiVE and Denise Brennan from Creative Coworkers for their thoughts on the thriving scene that is coworking. I asked for their Top 5 Perks, Top Wishes, and How to Get Started. Here’s the juice…
Coworking is a collective of individuals sharing a work space instead of working from a traditional office. Coworkers are often solopreneurs, entrepreneurs, freelancers, travelers, remote professionals, and contractors. Spaces usually operate on a monthly membership basis, and usually have flexible work station options and perks, such as hot desks, dedicated/permanent desks, dedicated offices, team desks, meeting rooms, audio/visual equipment, kitchens, events and more. Each coworking space offers different amenities, programing, perks, but they all share the same underlying, juicy value: that working together is better than working alone.
Top 5 Perks of coworking
- Melissa: Community! A lot of freelancers and entrepreneurs feel isolated and coworking can fix that, as you are surrounded by like-minded individuals who will never cease to amaze and inspire.
Denise: Inspiration! Working from home in isolation can lead to loosing your steam, and your idea/plan fizzling out.
- Melissa: Variety! We have a lot of coworking options [in Vancouver], so whatever your working style is, and whatever your preferred surroundings are, there is likely a space for you.
Denise: Flexibility! Not being on the line for a lease means your business and/or team can be flexible. Your team may grow or shrink multiple times, and being free from a lease allows room to shift without penalty.
- Denise: The Local Economy! Coworking membership fees go to running the space, which in turn goes in to your local economy. Hiring local, buying local, supporting community initiatives; it’s all a big family.
Melissa: Efficiency! People tell me all the time that coming to a coworking space helps them work harder and more efficiently; some magic combination of the feeling of going to work (as opposed to working in your pjs at home) and peer pressure [the good kind].
- Denise: Sharing the load! A coworking space takes care of all the administrative aspects of running an office/space, such as paying bills and ordering supplies. This frees you up for your creative, meaningful work.
Melissa: Assistance! Whether you need advice, a recommendation, or a phone charger, there’s probably someone who can help. I once got a great contractor for a home renovation from the HiVE’s email list.
- Melissa: Coffee! I often tell people coworking runs on just two things: good internet and good coffee – if you’ve got those things, everything else is just a bonus.
Denise: Security! Working out of a cafe means a lack of security. A coworking space means you can go to the washroom without fear that your laptop will be stolen. You will also avoid the dreaded Barista Resentment.
Top Wishes for the future of coworking
Denise: I wish that freelancers would start off coworking instead of working from home – they quit their day job and pursued their passion, but it fades after working from home/cafes in isolation for 6 months, and their capital has run out, so they end up back at a 9-5. Start off coworking, and reap the rewards. I also wish the coworking model was valued more, and was more financially sustainable [for those operating coworking spaces]. DeskMag just released a report on the financial profitability of running a space, and there are some very interesting findings, including gender inequality.
Melissa: I wish more people knew about coworking, and how beneficial it is. So many great people don’t know about this “Third Option” (not your kitchen table or a cafe). I also wish there was sponsorship/funding for those who do not have the capital to join a space as a member (just starting out for example) to give them that boost and community connection.
PS If you don’t have the juice just yet, join as a Community Member to start building your relationships while you work towards that membership. You’ll get invited to all kinds of events, and get access to resources.
How to get started
- Melissa: Try a number of spaces (use the Coworking BC Collective passport) to find one that works for you. Consider what your commute will be as well as things like events, amenities, furniture, and people.
Denise: Commit to testing out a space, not just doing a tour. It’s like finding a roommate – a chat over coffee won’t give you the real life experience of living with that person.
- Melissa: Participate in the space in ways that work for you. Most spaces have online and in-person options for connecting to other members, so explore and take advantage of whatever is most comfortable for you.
Denise: Spaces have a social media presence and [usually] a calendar of events – see what’s happening/what has happened to see if they suit you.
- Denise: Bring something to share, like cookies, juice, or a plant. It makes for an easy ice-breaker if you are new to a space.
Melissa: Bring yourself to the space. If you love books, see if anyone wants to join a book club. If you love sports, see if anyone wants to go shoot some hoops at lunch.
- Melissa: Get yourself a good pair of comfortable, noise-cancelling headphones so you can control the amount of noise.
Denise: Invest in your new community. Be there for them, and they will be there for you.
- Denise: Consider any special requirements for the work you do. Do you need specialized equipment? When reaching out to a potential space or on a tour, ensure you ask the questions that you need to hear a solid yes on.
Melissa: If you have an extra phone charger, bring it along – eventually, you’ll get to be someone’s hero when they realize they forgot theirs at home.
Get in on the Juicy-ness
If you can’t attend the conference, join in at the Railtown Get Down on Thursday October 5th – this is an open event in partnership with GCUC, The Urban Workers Project, and Coworking BC! Tickets include music from The Queertet, DJ Slade, and more!
If you are a conference attendee, your ticket is already covered, and if you are a member/alumni of RADIUS, Vancity or CCEC Credit Unions, Groundswell, SVI Hollyhock, or the Urban Workers Project, tickets are just $15!
Nifty fact! Almost everyone hired for the Railtown Get Down is a coworking member! This is a great example of the circular economy, and keeping money in your local community.
xx Big City Hippie Maddy in collaboration with Melissa Hope & Denise Brennan