A couple of times over the past two weeks I got to experience a coworking session. Simply put coworking is when individuals work on their own projects, but they do it in a common location, most often a place like a coffee shop. The concept of coworking started by people who were working from home or who did not have a formal office and I suspect was at least partially driven by the need to occasionally interact with another human being. The idea has really blossomed as people have discovered that it is a great outlet to bounce ideas off each other. Many people who work on “side” projects (trying to start the next 15 billion dollar social network site) find it a great way to devote time to their projects.
As I mentioned, I have got to experience a couple of ad-hoc co-working experiences with my teammates recently and look back on them as great experiences where I was able to get a lot of work done (contrary to the notion that you get the most work done when you are locked away from all human contact). Much more than what I was personally able to accomplish was how much better I could work when I had people to bounce ideas off of. “Does anyone have a second to look at this CSS style and tell me what I am doing wrong?” and “How do you setup feedburner for a podcast?” are the types of questions that can be quickly thrown out to the group. I also learn a lot just hearing what other people are talking about (a good way to stay up on the latest trends).
Probably not for every project and not for everyone
There are certain projects that you could be working on where the casual environment of coworking is not the ideal environment. Editing a podcast is one that comes to mind (because you would look silly with the headphones on). Also if you are trying to debug your multi-threaded application to figure out why your objects are not being deallocated, you probably need extreme concentration and your don’t want someone talking about what color pallets to use on their blog. Also if it does not sound like fun to work around other people who are working on other projects, then it might not be for you (and that is okay – not everything has to work for everyone).
Would you like to try coworking?
If you are looking for a group to cowork, there is a Coworking Wiki over on pbwiki that might help you find a group. I will caution you that many of the entries are for place to cowork, rather than an active group.
Are you in the Milwaukee, WI area (my current residence)? The guys and gals over at the Web 414 group will generally get together a coworking session 1 or 2 times a month, generally on the east side and generally at night. They currently don’t have one scheduled – might be the holidays keeping everyone busy. If you see one get scheduled on their site, stop by and introduce yourself and get to work. I would also like to start an occasional afternoon coworking group in Brookfield, WI. So I am going to throw out a date and location, and hopefully someone will join me (It is not coworking if I am there by myself). Drop me a line if you are coming.
Date: Monday December 17, 2007
Time: 1:00 – 5:00
Einstein Brothers Bagels (map)
17000-A Bluemound Road
Brookfield, WI 53045
Note: there is a Starbucks Coffee next door and the folks at Einstein’s let you bring in your Starbucks (they rent the space to Starbucks).