One of the bright spots in the economic downturn has been the emergence of real world shared workspaces, co-working communities and collaborative work environments.
Touting a series of benefits that range from reduced cost, quality of life, carbon-reduction and networking, telework and co-working environments return great dividends to participants.
Small entrepreneurial business ventures get a foothold with high-speed internet, phone and fax services for a fraction of the cost of providing in a home office. Add to this the possibility of informal networking and the general pleasantness of working together, alongside the carbon reduction of delivering space/utility resources that would otherwise be duplicated.
I recently visited Sierra Commons in Nevada City. Sierra Commons considers itself a business incubator, with the apropos byline “business ignitor” and a mission statement closely tied to economic development. Building business away from urban hubs provides quality of life and reduces cost of living, but presents some unique problems which co-working communities effectively address (connectivity, networking and social interaction).
Standing in the shared kitchen by the retro popcorn machine Sierra Commons’ Max Norton and I discussed upcoming projects we might work on together.
Sierra Commons’ big upsell over a home office is connecting to others and finding a dedicated place for focused work. Like many workshare spaces, Sierra Commons offers brown bag lunch dates, mixers, art exhibits and community events. Robert Trent manages the space and has been surprised by how much general information is shared and is glad to see a constant buzz of professional feedback and referrals.
Gaining a foothold in 2008, the economic downturn has provided reasons for working together: finding work, saving money and keeping the faith in budding enterprise.