Creative Co-working

Heather ParlatoFor the first few years of running my business, I worked in a home office. I was lucky enough to have the space, and I relished the opportunity to switch to a 10-step daily commute. As co-working spaces have popped up around town, I’ve visited them for their social and networking events, but was skeptical about how much I’d like working in one. After all, I like quiet, uninterrupted block time and the freedom of running the laundry while I work, or taking gardening breaks.

As time and experience has shaped my approach to work from employee to business owner, I’ve also noticed a shift from more social networking to relationship building, spending quality time with like-minded business owners, sharing advice and support. I still wouldn’t have considered co-working on my own, but when I was approached by a respected colleague about sharing space in an office with a few other designers, the idea really started to sink in.

The plan was simple: A couple designers decided to partner and combine services. They got an office together, and set up the extra space with desks, a shared server and printer, and invited a list of peers in varied creative disciplines who have all known each other awhile to rent desk space.

The more I thought about it, the more excited I got, and a few rounds of email proved I wasn’t alone. We were all excited to share space, expertise, partner on projects and have lunch together. It’s been two months, and we’ve all had a chance to talk about what a benefit it brings to our work lives. It’s kind of like a mastermind group combined with a pretend job in a hand-picked design firm—but it’s not a job, it’s a choice. We love it!

While I think it’s a really great idea for firms with extra space to do this in their own offices with well-chosen vendors, there are all kinds of ways you can get creative with co-working spaces and make something like this happen.

  • If you have a mastermind or networking group, you can set up a couple days per week to meet up and work together at the co-working space or wifi-enabled coffee shop of your choice.
  • If you belong to a space and want to get to know other members better, set up an official work day with a networking lunch and optional socializing after work [Luke Mysse does this using meetup.com to organize].
  • If you like a smaller environment, try working one-on-one with a friend [my patio has wifi and is a nice place to change perspective and cool off, friends welcome].

Have you considered co-working alternatives for your business? I’d love to hear ideas from people who have tried variations of networking on the job.

Listen to BTW: [audio:http://iliseb.audioacrobat.com/download/b77e29ab-3f5d-cf3f-e070-10582fdcca25.mp3] Check out Heather’s co-working space here. And there’s another co-working space in New Jersey, Converge NJ, located on the campus of Kean University – and it’s really beautiful! They have a monthly Open House to try it out so if you’re nearby, go see.

Creative Co-working

For the first few years of running my business, I worked in a home office. I was lucky enough to have the space, and I relished the opportunity to switch to a 10-step daily commute. As co-working spaces have popped up around town, I’ve visited them for their social and networking events, but was skeptical about how much I’d like working in one. After all, I like quiet, uninterrupted block time and the freedom of running the laundry while I work, or taking gardening breaks.

As time and experience has shaped my approach to work from employee to business owner, I’ve also noticed a shift from more social networking to relationship building, spending quality time with like-minded business owners, sharing advice and support. I still wouldn’t have considered co-working on my own, but when approached by a respected colleague about sharing space in an office with a few other designers, the idea really started to sink in.

The plan was simple: A couple designers I know decided to partner and combine services. They got an office together, and set up the extra space with desks, a shared server and printer, and invited a list of peers in varied creative disciplines who have all known each other awhile to rent desk space.

The more I thought about it, the more excited I got, and a few rounds of email proved I wasn’t alone. We were all excited to share space, expertise, partner on projects and have lunch together. It’s been two months, and we’ve all had a chance to talk about what a benefit it brings to our work lives. It’s kind of like a mastermind group combined with a pretend job in a hand-picked design firm—but it’s not a job, it’s a choice. We love it!

While I think it’s a really great idea for firms with extra space to do this in their own offices with well-chosen vendors, there are all kinds of ways you can get creative with co-working spaces and make something like this happen.

· If you have a mastermind or networking group, you can set up a couple days per week to meet up and work together at the co-working space or wifi-enabled coffee shop of your choice.

· If you belong to a space and want to get to know other members better, set up an official work day with a networking lunch and optional socializing after work [Luke Mysse does this using meetup.com to organize].

· If you like a smaller environment, try working one-on-one with a friend [my patio has wifi and is a nice place to change perspective and cool off, friends welcome].

Have you considered co-working alternatives for your business? I’d love to hear ideas from people who have tried variations of networking on the job.

4 thoughts on “Creative Co-working

  1. LIsa Youngdahl

    I recently leased a studio in a community art center, located in a historic limestone building. There are 27 artists here, almost every type imaginable. Sculptors, ceramicists, painters, photographers, fashion designer, jewelry designers, and one other graphic designer! It’s inspiring to be in an environment of such creativity and be able to connect with other artists, (instead of Oprah in the background.) I am looking at my own work with a fresh perspective, and generating new ideas about what I can do. And, it’s a better location to meet clients than the local coffee house.

  2. Sophia Macks

    For all of you amazing independent workers, come to work in the most incredible communal work space- the we work lounge! located on the corner of grand and lafayette in soho, the we work lounge has its own conference room, unlimited wifi, copier/printer/faxer, key card access, video conferencing and BEAUTIFUL decor. Come on in for free and see if you love the vibe, then sign up for a month to month membership. Now you can have a professional place to work and bring clients, plus collaborate with fantastic individuals like yourself. Call me to come on in or sign up. 410.371.6226 (Sophia Macks). visit our website at http://www.weworknyc.com and email me at Sophia@weworknyc.com

  3. Pingback: creative inspiration | parlato design, los angeles :: branding | graphic design | marketing strategy

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