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Why We Are Here: A Manifesto

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I began Coworking Insights at the end of last year with the sole purpose of providing better information and insight for prospective and current founders of coworking spaces. Over the last few months it’s grown steadily, which has been fun to watch, and I’ve written a lot of material that I’m very proud of. During that initial period, Coworking Insights became about my experiences and strictly about coworking space operations.

It’s time to change it up a bit and there’s a lesson here, I hope, that will help you stay true to yourselves when running your spaces.

My career began with a little project called Idea School. Idea School was an attempt to create the school I wanted to attend, one where entrepreneurial projects were the focus and peer review and support was not just encouraged, but essential. The project took on many forms over the years and, while never fully successful, formed the foundation for my career.

Coworking felt like a natural fit after this attempt at an education “startup”. Coworking and coworking-adjacent industries (bootcamps, accelerators, etc.) provided an alternative to the establishment higher education model. I liked that.

I liked it because for years I’d stood confused at the doorstep of the corporate and education establishments. The arbitrary rules and heated internal politics still fly unfettered in the face of the scientific evidence that contradicts them, yet there they stand. People still think employees are motivated by bonuses instead of autonomy and purpose. Founders still sell out their workers when they exit for fifty cents on the dollar instead of going for the IPO. Businesses still think they only pay for an employee’s time regardless of their results.

Today, after spending several years in the coworking industry and neck-deep in startupland, I’m still in love with the coworking industry and how it often stands in stark contrast to the establishment, but something has changed. As with my education project at the outset of my career, I’ve come to the conclusion that coworking is yet another foundation to build upon. Because of that, each of you are currently engaged in building and perfecting a firmament that is literally changing the way people work and changing the decisions people make for their businesses. I think the comparison to Atlas is somewhat apt here (great job!).

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Coworking Insights isn’t just about how to make your coworking space a well-run, efficient, member-happiness machine. Certainly we can do that and should do that, but we also need to talk about why we’re here. Why care about coworking at all?

Coworking is the anti-office (or at least it can be). Coworking is a declaration of war to the status-quo-obsessed world of work. With coworking we are saying, “No more bullshit. We want to do work that matters and we want to do it when and wherever we feel like.” With coworking, we are empowering would-be lonewolves to feel inspired by their environment, get connected to people that matter, and belong to a tribe of people more like them.

You, dear coworking operator/maker/founder/instigator, are changing the way people work and generate value, and that is what Coworking Insights is about. It’s about accelerating that change. It’s about breaking the rules. It’s about being true to what brought us here.

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