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The epic battle is underway. It’s not being fought with weapons by soldiers; it’s not even being fought by people who are really fighting with each other at all.

It’s the battle between the people who run spaces and the unconscious forces that pull them into a workspace rental malaise. In an earlier post on this site, a reader commented:

Thank you for writing this! I think a lot of us in the coworking world feel that our spaces are useful for something more than just coffee and wifi, and this blog post really puts into words. Definitely agree that “A local community of like-minded people” is a powerful resource for anyone. #coworking

Coming from the early days of the movement, it’s absurd to me that anyone would think of coworking as just coffee and wifi. But that’s the state of affairs today.

Let’s be clear: there are no villains here. At least not human villains. The villain here is simply a lack of leadership, a lack of purposefulness, and a lack of direction.

Anyone running a workspace must contend with the temptation to coast.

It’s just far too easy to slide into a mode of maintaining a tidy workspace where people come and go and nothing much happens. Building something otherwise requires the kind of constant attention a gardener would put into their crop to ensure it yields fruits and not just weeds.

And gardening isn’t easy. But the fruits in the case of coworking aren’t just nutritious foods; they’re the flourishing of a population of people who would otherwise struggle to find their way.

The stakes here are high. As more and more of our neighbors join the ranks of the independents, by will or by layoff, the need for community support continues to rise.

But most people aren’t going to simply walk into a coworking space, rent a desk, and instantly know everything they need to know to start working for themselves. If coworking spaces commit to providing not just workspace, but the ability to find the resources, education, and people to help them succeed, then the true potential of this movement will start to be realized.

Shifting the narrative

This is already underway in many spaces all over the world, but that hasn’t been the storyline of coworking. Media in recent years has focused on the mass-market consumptive coworking model led by WeWork’s meteoric rise. It’s been a lot of about real estate and dollars and not so much about impact and civic activity.

To that end, I am looking to develop efforts that highlight those who are doing more than just running a workspace. I want to challenge operators everywhere to pledge to do more to support their neighbors and to strive to truly become centers for the new workforce in their respective municipalities.

What can be done

I envision two starting activities:

Conduct interviews with people doing awesome things. There are so many people working on so many great, inspiring projects relating to gathering the new workforce. The more we can share and learn from each other’s stories, the better.

Develop a pledge that challenges organizers to do more than just operate workspace. People who sign the pledge will commit to a series of basic conditions. In exchange, they’ll be provided support and their efforts will be highlighted.

I could go much further, but I want to start somewhere small and actionable.

What do you think?


Photo credit: Adam Levey for The Atlantic

Photo credit: Adam Levey / The Atlantic

In the cover story of the July/August 2015 issue of The Atlantic, Derek Thompson charts out some perspectives around the future of work or, in the eyes of some, the future of there being no more work. He concludes:

Is (the end of work as we know it) certain—or certainly imminent? No. The signs so far are murky and suggestive… but the possibility seems significant enough—and the consequences disruptive enough—that we owe it to ourselves to start thinking about what society could look like without universal work, in an effort to begin nudging it toward the better outcomes and away from the worse ones.

I see the coworking and maker space movements as being critical foundational building blocks to nudging society toward those better outcomes. It’s this sort of perspective I would love to see every coworking space owner have in mind when they develop their communities.

Local communities of interdependent, empowered individuals help create a framework for viewing work in new, more future-friendly ways. In a world where traditional employment may be going away, new paradigms of value must be investigated. Investing in the development of stronger local communities of practice is just such a thing. In particular:

1. Local communities offer a sense of belonging.

When you work for a company, you belong to something bigger than yourself. This entity is something with stated goals to which you contribute your effort. You may not love your employer or the work it produces, but you nevertheless are able to have a sense that you belong to a group of people who are all united in their efforts toward a common goal.

When you don’t have an employer, you are responsible for finding this kind of connection, but where? A local community of like-minded people provides a suitable replacement. Everyone can feel a sense of allegiance to their home town, or their coworking space. It’s perhaps even easier, because those entities don’t get quite as gummed up in the whole “maximize profit” thing that can sour relationships between corporations and their employees.

If you picture the typical 20th century worker, you picture someone who might proudly wear a shirt with the logo of their employer. For the typical 21st century worker, perhaps that shirt’s logo is the logo of one’s township or one’s coworking community, or even one’s team of people who develop an identity of their own within a larger community.

If jobs and work aren’t being distributed in the same way from global corporations, then perhaps it is an opportunity to turn our attention to our neighbors. We’re all in this together, after all, so there will never be a shortage of need for citizens of a municipality to help each other.

2. Local communities offer accountability.

When it comes to the entire span of all human activity that could possibly be undertaken, there’s no shortage of value-creating work to be done. As a race, we have huge problems to solve, huge questions to answer, and deeper levels to go with what we already know.

The difference in this new mode of working is that there may not be the same kind of intermediary entities handing out this work in the tidy form of traditional jobs.

To that end, a lot of the work opportunities out there may only be able to be realized by way of people actually going out and finding them. This requires a degree of initiative that many people might not yet be used to.

Local communities can help shift this. If someone understands that they need to develop the kind of motivation that will help them find or create the work they want, they can join or form a local group of people who commit to helping each other stay on task.

This is even more critical to those who are experiencing the effects of unemployment. Thompson writes:

By and large, the jobless don’t spend their downtime socializing with friends or taking up new hobbies. Instead, they watch TV or sleep… The unemployed theoretically have the most time to socialize, and yet studies have shown that they feel the most social isolation; it is surprisingly hard to replace the camaraderie of the water cooler.

Most people want to work, and are miserable when they cannot… Research has shown that it is harder to recover from a long bout of joblessness than from losing a loved one or suffering a life-altering injury. The very things that help many people recover from other emotional traumas—a routine, an absorbing distraction, a daily purpose—are not readily available to the unemployed.

Considering how digital distractions are getting better and better at sapping up our attention with every passing moment, and the depression and utter structurelessness of jobless life can be all but paralyzing, we’re going to need all the help we can get to develop and maintain enough discipline to stay focused on doing what’s valuable to us instead of what’s just stimulating to us.

Coworking communities, and in particular shared accountability groups within coworking communities, address this need naturally. They can go a lot further to becoming institutionalized things people count on to support them.

3. Local communities act as a beacon.

When you’re on your own, especially when you’re just getting started… and extra especially if you didn’t even choose to be on your own, you can easily feel like you have to figure out everything for yourself.

When you’re getting started, there are so many basics to cover: to incorporate, or not? How to do that? How to do taxes? How to get health care? How to get customers? How to develop products and services? Add to that a healthy dollop of need for training in basic computer and internet skills. It’s a lot, and not everyone is going to be so cut out for figuring all of it out themselves. In Thompson’s estimation:

In the near term, local governments might do well to create more and more-ambitious community centers or other public spaces where residents can meet, learn skills, bond around sports or crafts, and socialize. Two of the most common side effects of unemployment are loneliness, on the individual level, and the hollowing-out of community pride. A national policy that directed money toward centers in distressed areas might remedy the maladies of idleness, and form the beginnings of a long-term experiment on how to reengage people in their neighborhoods in the absence of full employment.

The reality, of course, is that these community centers are already well under development. Coworking spaces are the de facto local community centers, and considering they weren’t designed to play that role, they do a pretty good job.

That being said, managers of coworking spaces would do well to consider how they could take their spaces and go further to make them “more-ambitious community centers”

Government support, if not in the form of money then at least in the form of vigorous cheerleading, could help connect existing spaces to people who need to know that these places exist.

It’s this sort of thing I want more of us to be talking about.

Work is changing in some serious ways. What we do, right now, will affect the extent to which this shift is a healthy and positive one for the countless millions it will affect.

We can’t know for sure a lot about how it will go, but I do know this: people self-organizing on the local level will help, a lot.

 


Designing for generational communities

I wanted everyone who joined my community to always stay there forever. I also wanted everyone to be friends with everyone else. I wanted everyone to participate in every event. I wanted everyone who visited to sign up, and I never wanted anyone to leave.

So, in other words, I set myself up for a lot of disappointment. The reality is that, in any community, people come and go. Some might make lots of friends, some might not make any at all. Some might participate in lots of events, or even help plan new things, while others might not show up to anything no matter what you do.

The first thing you have to accept is that you’re not in control of this. You can do a lot of things to influence the process, but it’s ultimately up to each person to decide what relationship they want to have with your community. And while some people may stay for many years, no one stays forever. (No one lives forever! Not even your community! Though you might want your community to outlive you, which is something you can plan for… but that’s a whole other bag of chips.)

Your community is a living and breathing meta-organism. It grows and shrinks. People come and go. To be an effective community organizer, you must detach from what might naturally feel like a very personal thing, and accept that things change over time.

Once I learned to accept and design for the inherently generational phenomenon of communities, things started getting a lot better. I let go of trying to hold onto people who were ready to move on, and I embraced supporting the development of new generations of people as they came in.

I started looking for ways to jumpstart the process, by focusing my energy on specific inflection points, like seasonal shifts when I knew lots of people would be changing jobs and locations and looking for new communities to join.

What resulted was a healthier cross-section of sub-cultures within our community, as people who met others who joined around the same time as them formed stronger bonds while also still cross-pollinating with the rest of the community.

Tips on supporting your community’s generational development

1. Acknowledge the value of long-time and founding members.

In my community, we called them “OG” members. While we didn’t award any formal status to OG members, we often found ways to increase their role in the community over time. While there were certainly some members who were around for years without participating much or elevating their status in any way (which I’ve come to accept is okay), many of the long-timers found ways to integrate our community more deeply into their lives (and vice versa).

Sometimes it was by running programs in the space, sometimes it was by volunteering to help pick up a couple of shifts at the front desk, sometimes it was showing up for our monthly Welcome Aboard Member Meetings, sometimes it was simply being someone that we told newcomers they should introduce themselves to.

We could also turn to them for advice on big decisions, and when we needed help raising money for a big move, they were there for us in a huge way.

Solicit their feedback. Listen when they have something to say. You don’t need to do the bidding of any one person in your space, but you can certainly keep your ear to the ground.

Are you losing someone who has been a steadfast supporter of yours for years? Listen for that. It might be a clue that you’re not on the right track and you need to make an adjustment pronto.

2. Craft special occasions to give people specific opportunities to join.

In my experience, there were natural recruiting opportunities after Labor Day and New Year’s Day. These are times when people are moving, when they’re changing jobs, or when their kids are going back to school. They’re times of transition, and thus times when people are looking for new communities to join.

Give them a reason to join your community, or at least to get to know your community, and to do so by a specific day! You can tailor the programming to specifically cater to these people, like a Meetup event for people who just moved to town, or a “back to school” goal-setting event for workers who are returning to a kids-aren’t-home work style again. You can also craft programming that just happens to line up with these times, like a membership recruiting drive or a special open house event.

You also don’t have to wait until Labor Day or New Year’s; you can craft generational shifts through other efforts, like local festivals or a special program you develop to attract a certain kind of person.

Whatever it is, it should give a person a sense that, while they may join your community anytime, this particular time is a really good one to join, so if they’re on the fence, they should get off the fence and get involved before they miss out on a good opportunity.

In my case, I had great success with this when recruiting new members to join my Cotivation group (a weekly goal-setting and shared accountability group we ran in my space for a few years). This group had a hard start date and a seasonal nature to it (I marketed it as a New Year’s resolution-keeping program), so it gave people an excuse to join my community and give it a try.

3. Celebrate successful “graduations” from your community.

When it’s time for someone to move on, don’t take it personally. Embrace it for what it is. If someone experienced great success as a result of being in your community, or even if they just had a really great time and are now making a big personal transition, celebrate it! There’s no reason why you can’t trumpet this as a successfully completed member experience that others can be inspired by.

Invite outgoing members to give you feedback, to write you reviews on Yelp and Google, and to join an alumni group (if you have one). Keep them on your invite list for special occasions and, if it feels right, invite them to become formal or informal advisors you can turn to for future decisions and fundraising efforts.

Done right, the departure of your member can more than make up for the loss of their revenue and positive influence on your community by attracting others who aspire to have a similar experience in your community.

These are just a few of the ways to design for the generational nature of your community; simply being aware of its existence and nature goes a long way on its own.

If you’d like to join for a conversation on this and similar topics, my collaborator Susan and I are hosting a discussion on revitalizing the culture in your coworking community on Tuesday, August 5. RSVP here!

We’re also recruiting a few more folks to become Cotivation organizers, timed to align with a post-Labor Day launch. So if you want more members in your space, and you want your space to have a better culture, consider joining us! Learn more about our Cotivation program here.

I also just released an eBook jam-packed with tips like this. Check it here.


No More Sink Full of Mugs!Anyone who’s ever run a coworking space knows that while it’s wonderfully fulfilling work, it’s also not without its un-glamorous and downright gross parts. Running a workspace every day is no easy undertaking; entropy creeps in at every opportunity. Things get messy. Culture shifts in unpredictable ways. Without careful management and smart tricks, the job can easily drive one to burnout.

Since I first got started organizing coworking communities in 2007, I’ve learned the hard way that so much of what it takes to maintain sanity comes down to doing a lot of big and little things to make the community something that not just you, but everyone, can feel ownership over and permission to help make better.

I realized that I could help people avoid a lot of the pain of learning how to handle things the hard way by writing down some of my favorite simple tricks and making them available in the form of a handy little eBook.

And voila, here it is! I’ve been wanting to publish something for a long time now, so getting this out the door has been huge for me. It’s focused completely on practical solutions, with very little in the way of theory and fluff.

It focuses on how to deal with some common issues:

  • how to keep the kitchen sink from constantly filling with mugs and dishes
  • how to keep up with the never-ending demand for coffee
  • how to give people a wide variety of opportunities to connect with each other without being overly pushy
  • how to accommodate never-ending changes to membership statuses with no delay and minimal labor
  • how we set up our memberships so we never have to chase down non-paying members
  • how we strike a balance between maintaining consistent business hours and accommodating the needs of members who need to start work early and stay working late
  • how to handle members who we fear may not be a good fit
  • how we handle the sharing of limited resources like printing, coffee, and conference rooms
  • how we handle conference room bookings to minimize labor, potential conflicts, abuse, and maximize availability for everyone
  • how to give people who belong in the space but can’t afford it a way to be members
  • how to set up a membership exchange volunteer program

In addition to all of this, I share eight key rules of thumb that can be applied to any of a number of situations. These basic philosophical approaches have been a core part of what’s allowed us to run an extremely efficient operation with a continuously strong culture for over seven years.

It also comes with some handy templates and resources so you can implement the concepts in the book with minimal additional effort.

It’s available for order now for $19.99. Jump on it!

Buy now

You won’t regret it! 

You’ll actually be quite happy!


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There’s a particularly awful kind of feeling to have when you’re a coworking space owner. It’s the one you feel when you’re looking around your space, seeing some seats sitting empty while others are filled by people on their headphones staring at their screens. People come in, they go to their desk, they work, they leave. There’s maybe some chitchat.

You planned some ice-breaker events and had decent attendance, but for the most part people just don’t respond.

When you got started, it was better. There was excitement and energy. People wanted to help. Now, it seems like people just want to be customers. They just want to be served.

What happened? Wasn’t this supposed to be a community? Where did it go?

If you resonate with this, then you and your community may be in a cultural trough. It’s not unusual; every community experiences a natural ebb and flow as people come and go and time marches on. People who were excitedly helping you get started move on, or become complacent.

You come up against the hard reality that you can’t force people to want to participate in a community.

So now what do you do?

This is where our conversation begins. While it may seem impossible to dig a stagnant community culture out of its trough, it’s not—we’ve been there before.

The trick to revitalizing a community’s culture is to think of it as if you’re starting a new community from within. You start with a basic question: what are the unfulfilled wants and needs of present and future community members?

Then: how can you take these needs and create opportunities for people to see how they can fulfill those needs through your community?

With the right kind of focus and effort, you can have a vibrant culture bursting forth once again in relatively short order.

Let’s talk about how. Over the past several years, we (Susan and Tony, hi!) have been running programs in our spaces that have consistently revitalized our communities. Join us Thursday, August 5 at 2:00 ET (see your time zone here) for a special informational session where we’ll dive into what it takes to revitalize your community in the best possible way.

Space is limited, because that’s how video chats work. RSVP for the Hangout, register for email updates, or tune in below!

You can also learn more on our Cotivation site or apply now for our next training session, which runs August to October!

Cheers,
Tony + Susan


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If you’re interested in becoming a Cotivation organizer, learn more here, register for updates, or apply now!


We’re midway through our first-ever training of new Cotivation organizers, and I’m already excited to get more people on board! Susan and I have been meeting weekly with three new organizers who are each developing their own communities, and so far it’s been a tremendously valuable experience for everyone involved.

To that end, Susan and I are kicking off the next round of training the week of June 27. Apply now if you’d like to be a part of our next class of organizers!

Prepare for the post-Labor Day rush.

Summer is a great time to plan and prepare for the fall, when many people look for a new coworking community to join. Kicking off a Cotivation group right at the peak of a seasonal shift will help you onboard newcomers with intention and give people who are on the fence an excuse to pick a day to join.

If you run a coworking community, you might be aware of the natural generational shifts that happen as members of your community join and leave over time. With each incoming generation, you have a chance to shape the future of your community’s culture and the attitudes of the people who join in subsequent generations.

Cotivation was designed to give you a powerful cultural refresh by building a new core of highly bonded people from within. We did this to great success at New Work City, and others have done so in their spaces over the past few years as well.

The training program: 10 weeks of awesome.

Our first training program has at once been instantly very valuable to everyone involved while also being a great opportunity for us to learn how to help people become more effective facilitators.

Meeting primarily over a Skype video session every Wednesday, we create an implicit sense of routine and accountability that mirrors the benefits a Cotivation group provides members—each week we check in with each other, see how everyone is doing and brainstorm solutions for challenges anyone is facing.

Throughout the week, we continue the discussion in our online discussion group, where all organizers are invited to contribute their experiences and ideas.

If you want to cultivate a better culture in your space, and get more members to not just join but stick around, Cotivation is a great program to make that happen—and September’s a great time to launch it!

If you’re interested in joining us for our August training session, contact me or apply now!

We’ll also be doing a free Cultural Revitalization session on Monday, August 3 at 1:00pm ET. Register for updates to learn more about how to join!


The more coworking community organizers I speak to, the more I get the powerful feeling that, while new communities are starting daily and many are doing well on paper as workspaces, the culture and participation in these spaces are sorely lacking.

To that end, I’m kicking off a new effort that will give organizers a way to revitalize their community through a fairly simple but powerful program. See below to learn more!

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TONY’S COWORKING COMMUNITY
PROBLEM SOLVING PROGRAM

Register by July 31 to participate!

Process
The process follows three basic phases: Evaluate, Identify, and Implement. Each exercise will be valuable unto itself, with the following phase building on the previous.

noun_form_39234 1. EVALUATE  Fill out a questionnaire.
We begin by looking at how things currently work. What’s working well? What needs attention? What hasn’t been addressed at all? Let’s get a really good sense of how community works in your space right now, so we can make informed decisions as to how to proceed from here.How it works:
You’ll fill out an evaluation form with questions ranging from simple to in-depth. Responses will be used to guide the rest of the process.Timing:
Evaluation phase begins promptly after an engagement commences and ends after all of the necessary information has been gathered.
noun_meeting_19165 2. IDENTIFY – Meet for a 90 minute video call.
With all the necessary information in hand, we’ll now identify the best opportunities to make improvements to culture and operations. We’ll look at simple tactical shifts that will be highly impactful yet easy to implement, while also charting out longer-term goals to work towards over time.How it works:
We’ll meet over the phone or in person to discuss analysis of your evaluation and to determine actionable next steps.

Timing:
We’ll coordinate a time to meet after you fill out the initial Evaluation.

noun_construction_2029 3. IMPLEMENTWe’ll send you recommendations for next steps..
We’ll work with you to develop a plan for implementing these changes in your space over the coming weeks and months. As you go through the process of implementation, we’ll check in regularly to assess progress and make necessary adjustments.How it works:
After our discussion, we’ll develop an Implementation Plan based on what we learned from our previous conversation.

Timing:
The Implementation Plan will be delivered within one week of the completion of the Identify phase.

I’m offering this as an experimental pilot program for $250 for the first 5 registrants, then $450 for subsequent registrants. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at tony [at] nwc.co.

Ready to begin? Register now!

After the initial consultation, more in-depth work is available, from ongoing training to full-blown in-person transformational on-site takeovers, where my partner and I will invade your space and help run it for a short period of time.

Also, if you’re interested in boosting the culture in your coworking community, you can also check out the Cotivation licensing and training program I’m offering with my friend Susan.

Cheers!
Tony


How fun would it be to take everything– everything– that goes into a complete support system for employees and see how we can make new, better equivalents for in(ter)dependent workers?

For a good long while now, I’ve been focused on this idea of a meta-corporation that looks like a traditional industrial employer, but is in fact completely different under the hood. Instead of existing as a hierarchy that funnels value upward to executives and shareholders, it would exist as a networked system that facilitates value transfer between peers.

It would still have all of the support structures of a traditional employer, but re-engineered for the needs of the new workforce.

So what would we call it?

It would have to sound a little corporate. If we’re going to be printing this on letterhead and putting it on the sides of buildings, it’s got to sound like something that could be well-established. Institutional, even.

It would have to be more than a little tongue-in-cheek. It could go so far as to be a living parody of everything that wasn’t so great about the old way of doing things. It could invite people to laugh a bit, and then wonder: “okay, but seriously though. How can we do this better?”

It would have to pass the Mom Test. That is, one should be able to tell their mom that they’re a part of this company and it would sound sufficiently secure and legitimate as to not make mom worry.

I’ve had a few ideas for what to call it, but I know there are some great ideas out there. What would you call this company?

Leave a comment!

 


NWC 2015 Brainstorm

Yesterday, my friend and fellow New Work City coworker Ray of ThinkDesign took a bunch of us through a creative brainstorming exercise to drum up lots of ideas for where we can go with our community next year and beyond. It was an incredibly awesome exercise, because we were forced to throw out ideas in such a rapid-fire way that we didn’t have a chance to second guess ourselves. We also took on the personas of famous figures, which forced us to look at things from different perspectives. On the other side we ended up with ideas that we may never have thought about otherwise.

The central question revolved around what we could do next year to set up NWC to be something that is secured for a long time, while also taking on a renewed sense of purpose and ambition.

What kinds of things did we learn? Here are a few takeaways:

What would George Washington do if he ran New Work City?

At first, I didn’t think there’d be a lot to come up with for this. For all we revere George, what do we really know about him and his beliefs? Well, maybe we can just use our rough understanding of what he means to us, and go from there. What would he do?

  • He’d declare war on his oppressors.
  • He’d collaborate with his friends to articulate a set of core values.
  • He’d develop an open source system of democracy.
  • He’d keep the power in the hands of the people.
  • He’d be first and most famous.
    • (Really, think about it. We have a capitol city, a state, a currency, and so much more in his name, in part because of this fact.)
  • He’d envision things 100 years down the road.
  • He’d forge alliances.
  • He’d look at the current circumstances and find ways to turn them to his advantage.

What would Donald Trump do if he ran New Work City?

We used him as the “anti-example,” and sure enough the first few notes I drew up were more punchlines than productive ideas. But after I got that out of my system, something funny happened. It turns out that, while we may never want to do things the way Trump would do them, we might have something to learn from it anyway. What would he do?

  • He’d be unafraid to take big risks.
  • He’d commit to a really ambitious project and compel everyone to believe it can happen.
  • He’d not be afraid to make people angry with his beliefs.
  • He’d write a book about how awesome and successful he is and why people should emulate him. (Okay, we’re not going to do this, but maybe we could glean something from it?)
  • Brand brand brand brand brand.
  • He’d find a way to profit from the legions of unemployed and underemployed (ha!)

What would Martin Luther King, Jr do if he ran New Work City?

We have much to learn from the Civil Rights Movement and one of the great leaders of the past century. What would he do?

  • He’d give a voice and vision to the oppressed.
  • He’d have a dream and talk about it.
  • He’d write and give a speech that resonates deeply with people.
  • He’d empower people to organize and act.
  • He’d appeal to human decency.
  • He’d focus on the needs of a specific group of people.
  • He’d align himself with an unstoppable force (God).
  • He’d stage visible protests.
  • He’d call out injustice and publicly oppose it.
  • He’d bring the power to the have-nots.
  • He’d show the power of gentleness and compassion.

How do these notions filter down to an actionable plan? We’ll cover that next. Whatever we decide to do, we’ll have the wisdom of some great (and not so great but remarkable nonetheless) individuals to guide us.

 


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It’s easy to hate on the boss. The clueless middle-manager. The power-hungry doofus. Bill Lumbergh. Michael Scott, if we’re lucky.

So when we see that more and more people are starting to work for themselves instead of for bosses, we celebrate the fact. We throw up giant flags that say “do what you love.” We romanticize it, and for good reason.

But there’s a flipside to all the newfound liberty. While we may be right to take joy in shedding the oppression of full-time employment, we also must take caution in acknowledging the support and security we lose along with it. Shedding the personified human boss above you on the org chart doesn’t mean that the role of the boss ceases to exist; it means that the role now shifts to elsewhere. In large part, it shifts to inside of you.

You become the boss now. You’re the man. You are, now, perhaps, the clueless middle-manager. Heavy is the head that wears the crown, right?

Do we really want that responsibility? Are we well-equipped for it? Are we going to love it?

In a world whose attention is increasingly being consumed by an ever-improving system designed to stimulate our brains with shocking listicles and engagement-optimized tweets, do we really trust ourselves to manage ourselves well?

When the boss is us, who’s going to tell us to unplug the social media and get back to work? Who’s going to remind us that instead of playing into the development of the 21st century Couch Potato, we should be doing what we love– like we said we would?

Not everyone who is making the shift toward independent work is going willingly. Traditional full-time jobs, like them or not, are going away and not coming back. Some people welcome the change, but some are kicking and screaming. They fear a world in which they’re on their own, and with good reason. We’re not meant to be on our own.

I know how badly I need to not be on my own. I don’t want to be consumed by my own lack of discipline. I really really don’t want to hate my boss now, because he’s not going anywhere. I know I’m not the only one facing these sorts of things.

And therein lies an opportunity to shape how this plays out.

We can scatter, each of us on our own, battling social media and our own shortcomings and ever-increasing costs and who knows what else, and hope that we might eek out a happy life somewhere in between. Or we can find new ways to organize and help each other.

This is why I believe so deeply in the potential of Coworking. By putting us in the same room together, it gives us a fighting chance. But it can’t just be window dressing on an office space rental business, as many believe it is now. We have to think of it as a tool to build better ways for us to support each other.

How we approach that is something I’ve been looking at from a lot of angles. I’ve found some answers, but there are so many more yet to be found.

If you’re around next Saturday, a group of us will be talking about these kinds of things all day. I’d love for you to join. I’d also love to hear your voice in the comments below if you have a moment.