Coworking spaces have become a crucial piece of disaster recovery infrastructure.

A very compelling story is unfolding in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, as hundreds if not thousands of people are flocking to new and existing coworking spots to get online and get back to work amidst the disruption.

In the early moments after the storm passed, Charlie O’Donnell created a #sandycoworking hashtag which succeeded as an instantaneous quick and dirty way to connect people with space to people who needed space. Shortly thereafter, Noel Hidalgo created a CrowdMap that made it possible for anyone to add spaces they knew to be available to an easy to navigate directory with a map.

Now, nearly 70 spaces are listed on that map in locations all over the city. In addition to our having moved New Work City temporarily to Brooklyn, existing spaces that were unaffected by the storm like Secret Clubhouse, Bitmap, Bat Haus, AlleyNYC stepped up in a big way and others opened up their offices as temporary pop-up locations for displaced workers.

I witnessed and received several communications from people with displaced teams who were desperate to find a way to get back to work. By having a place to point them to, I could easily get them hooked up with a location within biking distance that could help them get online in a timely fashion.

I don’t know the precise scale of it, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the economic impact of Sandy on small businesses was mitigated by the fact that a network of coworking communities popped up almost instantly to give people a place to maintain continuity.

I know it helped me.

What happened here in New York is a lesson that should be taken into account when planning for and responding to future crises.

  • Rob

    Tony, Noel, Thank you for your leadership this week. It has been inspiring.