Unearthing a hidden movement

Coworking’s big, and it’s getting bigger by the day. As it continues its evolution from nascent concept to established industry, the original spirit of what made it special inevitably becomes more and more distant from the people who encounter it.

If all coworking ever did was birth a new industry of on-demand low cost workspace, it would already have made a huge impact on how people work and live. But there’s something far deeper happening that merits continued attention. If you’ve ever spent time in a coworking space, you know: the people who are migrating to these communities, what they’re doing, and how they’re organizing and interacting is all… well, very interesting. Coworking, the industry, is a powerful and valuable thing. Coworking, the movement, is another story altogether.

While nobody controls “coworking” and its many interpretations, one of the things that was agreed upon by the early members of the movement was that, while everyone can have their own take on what this new thing is, there are some basic elements that make it what it is. Anyone could do anything with the word, but if certain elements were weak or missing, it wouldn’t be embodying what this thing really is about. Conversely, people who use the word “coworking” to embody something that fully represents these basic elements would be on the right track to embodying what makes this thing really special.

They’re not precise. They’re not perfect. They’re open to interpretation. But they are a really really handy construct.

They’re called the Coworking Values. Here they are:

  • Community
  • Openness
  • Collaboration
  • Accessibility
  • Sustainability

If you’re organizing something around the word “coworking,” odds are you’d benefit from seeking to address each of these values in your own way.

If you don’t like them, you can of course set your own values that are specific to what you want to do. But if you ignore the values driving the trend that you want your business to be a part of, you expose yourself to missing the mark and failing to engage the people who you want to help.

You might not mind one day finding yourself managing a big boring room of people sitting at desks with their headphones on all day, but you might want something better.

Let’s talk about what something better looks like to you and to the rest of us.

The industry, right now, is overshadowing the movement that’s driving it. But maybe it doesn’t have to. Maybe the two can fuel each other.

A new effort is forming to advance the core values of the coworking movement. Get a sneak preview here.