Sometimes being surrounded by folks like me is beneficial with practical work stuff. I can ask questions. Hire them to help. Other times, it’s more about empathy. If I’m bitching about something that’s really specific to my kind of work, it’s nice to be around someone who can relate. That’s the benefit of a shared studio space and being in New York.
-Frank Chimero (http://thegreatdiscontent.com/interview/frank-chimero)
I like co-working spaces — but not for working. I’m too easily distracted by them. I do rely on them as rallying points for a community to gather, and I absolutely value their focus on mentorship and education.
Since moving to Chicago, I’ve worked out of several co-working spaces consistently, and have watched closely as freelancers and startups co-habitated. It brought me back to college. Trying to get any work done in a dorm or apartment was really hard. I always attributed it to being a bad student, but in retrospect it was simply distracting. There was always something waiting to steal your attention.
I’ve always been curious about how spaces affect productivity. For the longest time I attributed it to the design and layout of a space. I intentionally began visiting offices of really successful teams and products to glean their secrets of success — often paying too close attention to their choice of layout, furniture and accessories.
A space doesn’t create success. A team does.
I know that now … but before that realization I blamed the growing number of people around me as the fault of my distraction. But by the same measure, living in a house with 8 people, I should never have gotten any work done — but it turned out to be one of the most productive times of my life.
Thinking back, I lived with people in the exact same situation as I was. Together, we were exploring design and development — we were beginners together. One person’s struggles were shared by everyone.
If given the opportunity to re-engineer a co-working space — I’d first seek ways to understand the people occupying it, and the best way to connect those dots. Not by industry, but by skill, interest and ability. The common grounds we can begin organizing people and teams around will ultimately affect the design choices we make for the space.
The goal is to develop a community that potentially wouldn’t have existed in any other capacity. Kind of like what Slack, and Campfire before it, have achieved. These digital communities are shared spaces for people to project their thoughts and opinions with like minded people — physical spaces should start taking note.
I’d love to see a space focused on experimenting with how a community grows by looking closer at 1-to-1 relationships and how they can affect one another.