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I've spent quite a bit of time working from home over the past five years. At first, I thought it was a blessing - it meant freedom from the cubicle. I didn't waste time driving to pick up lunch, and I could take a break every now and then to walk my daughter in the stroller around the neighborhood. I had quality time to focus on my work, and more flexibility to see my family. However, it didn't take long for the mirage to fade away. The more time I spent working from home, the more I noticed the laundry that needed to be folded, the dishes to be washed, and the toys to be picked up. What used to be a coffee break turned into a chore period.
Then, the loneliness kicked in. Sure, I had regular meetings with clients and peers, but not enough to fill the gaping hole of social interaction in my daily life. My creativity became stagnant, and my productivity declined. I needed to engage with someone in conversation - someone other than the occasional squirrel or robin outside the window. My first solution was a coffee shop. As a former barista, I knew a lot of the regular customers and looked forward to seeing a human being, any human being. Anyone who has ever worked from a Starbucks knows that it is a great place for social engagement, but not professional engagement. It's loud, it's crowded, and you can't just approach someone ordering their Pumpkin Spice Latte and ask about an HTML code issue on your website, or to proofread your marketing materials.
Several years ago, my father started consulting and worked out of his home office. He, too, felt the isolation and home distractions had a negative effect on his creative process. I think about all of the preparations he made to his home office - a nice desk, a printer, an upgraded WiFi router, office supplies...the list goes on. You see, when first starting to work from home you think it is the things that help you succeed, when in reality, it's the people that help you succeed.
When our team first sat down and discussed the concept of a shared workspace for the local community, it was as if the clouds parted and a giant lightbulb lit up in the sky. "Why is this not a huge movement in our society?" I remember thinking. Turns out, it is. In the ten years since the first coworking space opened in San Francisco, the movement has grown exponentially, and today there are over 2,500 spaces worldwide. I knew I wasn't alone anymore in my struggle to find that spark of creativity from my couch. Although our space is not quite ready to open, I can tell you what an amazing impact coworking has already had on my creativity, productivity, and focus.
We founded CommonPoint to be a space where independent professionals, freelancers, telecommuters, mobile workers, home-based small business owners, and anyone with a need can come work and interact with a diverse community, The space might be filled with your next client, a potential partner, or a mentor with unique expertise. Of course, we offer the resources to help along the way, including WiFi internet, coffee, meeting rooms, events, printing services, and modern furniture. But remember, it's not about the things, it's about the people.
If you are tired of working from your home, we'd love to hear from you!
-Andrew Munson, Co-Founder
No one coworking space is the same. The interior style, the amenities offered, the type of workers, and the local needs all ensure the uniqueness of each space. However, a set of common values unites them all. These values originated with CitizenSpace in San Francisco, the first "work only" coworking space, and have spread throughout the coworking movement, largely in part due to the education efforts of Alex Hillman from Indy Hall in Philadelphia. These values have become a standard for the culture coworking spaces seek to create for their communities. CommonPoint's specific definition is italicized below each value.
CommonPoint is a space that puts emphasis on the people, their interactions, and the relationships that form above everything else.
Community is the most important value of a coworking space. Sure, we all love the bright colors, the free coffee, and the modern furniture, but the important piece in this puzzle is community. People join coworking spaces because working from home is lonely and unproductive, and coffee shops are unprofessional and distracting. Working from a shared space with other like-minded professionals helps improve your creativity, your networking, and your work habits.
CommonPoint is a space that encourages people to work together toward shared goals through the exchange of ideas, knowledge, and experience.
Collaboration goes hand-in-hand with community. Coworking lets you surround yourself with talented, local people with a wealth of knowledge and expertise. Coworking isn't designed to be a competition - it is a place where people share their successes and grow together. You can find a business partner, a new client, or advice on a specific project. Collaboration is the spark of innovation - the only way to make this world a better place is by working together.
CommonPoint is a space that believes transparency, member input, and the freedom of ideas benefit everyone.
As I mentioned earlier, coworking spaces vary greatly across the country and around the world. Born out of the "open source" tech movement, coworking is built on the concept that it can evolve based on new ideas and local needs, instead of sweeping decisions by a global company or authority. Locally, our goal is to encourage members to make the space their own (within reason).
CommonPoint is a space composed of willing self-selected participants that creates a positive and productive place to work.
Coworking is for anyone who can benefit from, give back to, and grow with the community. It is not a private club or organization, or a forced community. It is best described here:
CommonPoint is a space that persists and grows in a balanced, efficient, and sustainable way.
Sustainability is a key value on two levels. First, the coworking movement supports the idea of "going green," through shared resources and being eco-citizens. Second, and more importantly, coworking needs to be financially stable to continue supporting and providing for its members. The space should persist and flourish for as long as the community needs it.
How do you interpret these core coworking values? Leave a comment below!
- Andrew Munson, Co-Founder