Why Coworking Works?

coworking

By now, this far along into the 21st Century, anyone living in a major city or, in many cases, a reasonably large town, probably has some sort of access to a Coworking space.

These spaces have sprouted up around the world over the last fifteen years to fulfill an important social need — the provision of a work orientated environment geared to the personal needs of the users. The facilities allow people to share (usually) office-like environments and are largely used by those who have or require more flexibility in their schedules and how they want to work.

For many of us — in theory — all that we really need to do our work is a laptop and a reasonably good wi-fi connection. But not everyone can or likes to work at home, and cafés, while being able to provide a soothing background noise for some kinds of tasks and projects, can still leave you feeling isolated and subject to undue random interruptions.

While there are tremendous advantages to not being tied to a specific desk or work station in a specific location, it doesn’t follow that we will be better off working all on our own. Being entirely alone is not healthy for us because as humans we are highly social creatures. According to Daniel Goleman, a leading thinker on emotional intelligence, we humans are wired to be with each other. Daniel claims that, “To a surprising extent, then, our relationships mold not just our experience, but our biology.”

But what if we could have the best of both worlds? Access to the necessary social interactions that we need to get through the day but in the environment of our choice and at the times we choose.

The informality and flexibility of a Coworking space gives us the option to switch between focused, intense work that some tasks require and the looser more social aspects of working such as research and the sounding out of ideas. Also, bringing people together provides the possibility and opportunity for collaborations to occur.

So, to summarize briefly, on the one hand we have technology allows us to escape the confines of the limitations of the conventional working environment, and on the other, we have Coworking spaces that allow us to take advantage of all the good things about working with others such as:

Human contact – which is essential to physical and mental health.
Conversations that can inspire and be the source of new ideas.
Sanity checks – having others with which to sound out ideas and make sure we are not going to far down the rabbit hole.
Collaboration as an option rather than an obligation.
The sense of energy that comes from being around productive people.
Fluidity of time and space and the power to determine when to engage with others or not on your own terms.
Space to work when it suits us to work.

How to get started

If there is no facility in your area the wiki also information on tools that you can use to set your own one up.

By far and away the best place to start investigating Coworking is the Coworking Wiki. There you will find information on the history and philosophy of Coworking as well news about Coworking sites in your locale.

Why Other People are Good For You

It is very easy to forget, because of their constant presence, that other people are essential to your mental and physical health. It may not feel that way when you are in a mood or in those times when the whole world, in the form of the people in it, seem to has nothing better to do than annoy you, let you down, thwart your desires and ambitions and jump up and down with great vigour on your feelings and sensitivities with uncalled for glee.

But despite the challenges, frustrations and annoyances we wouldn’t want it any other way. The alternative, isolation and its associated loneliness, are exceedingly bad for us.

Collaborate

Collaborate

This is because, as far as we can tell, humans have lived in small groups throughout their history of humanness. Our brains are wired for living in small bands, tribes and small communities. A consequence of millenia upon millenia of social living is that isolation is deadly for us.

I am not talking about alone time. It is perfectly healthy to unhook oneself from the social carousel and the digital grid from time to time. It is good to have a chance to rest from the demands of our modern lives and a break, if it is a proper break, allows us to recharge, reassess and return to the fold recharged and ready for what life in its constant revelation of the present will bring into view.

Isolation is the alienation we feel when we are not only separated from the world as a whole but also, more importantly, disengaged from the people around us.

There are all sorts of reasons, medical and social, why this isolation can happen but the first thing we must do when find ourselves on an island where we have nothing but our own company is to get off as soon as possible. Not only is it a boring and enervating place to be it can also be lethal.

The good news is that establishing and deepening connection with other people, (a real connection, where one person matters to another and vice versa,) is within our power to control. Real connection is about active engagement and all we need is the ability to take action and show some commitment to the process of being with others to get through the occasional times when being with others can be irksome.

We have established that the antidote to isolation is socialisation. In other words, other people. To get our head in the game let us ask ourselves, “Why is getting to know other people and bonding with them worth the effort?” “What are the benefits?”

In one word – collaboration.

We can’t survive without each other. Even ultra-individualistic, lone adventurers did not pop into the world with a Bowie knife clenched between their teeth. Surviving in the wild requires some serious preparation and training.

This doesn’t mean people can’t think for themselves. It’s that getting by on one’s own is dangerous, problematic, and I’ll vouch from my own time in the wilderness, exceedingly tedious. It is just too hard.

But getting together with other people makes all sorts of things possible.

We can share ideas – a simple idea released into the conversational wild may or may not do anything but a constant stream of ideas and notions that are discussed, felt out, examined and analysed can lead to all kinds of unimaginable consequences and results. Many of which may remain unrecognizable to the original purveyor. But isn’t it marvellous they existed, transformed into something and hopefully made a difference.

We don’t know unless we make an effort. A dream tossed away into the bottom drawer with last year’s holiday-cards is a sad thing indeed. Not for what it is but for where it could have lead.

We can build cool things – If I had an idea I believed in, or just thought interesting enough to spend some time on, I would be unable to progress in a timely manner.

I cannot code. I cannot design or build a chip. Soldering it to a board – perhaps not. I could have an idea on how to package it, and so on. To do it all by myself would require an ever-lengthening list of skill-sets to acquire in my oh, so short life. So, where to start?

In my immediate community, of course. And if there are no solutions there than I can reach beyond them to the endless multitude of communities that already exist that could help me with my very problem or one of its various aspects.

We can share ourselves – We can combine our aptitudes and personality traits so that the sum is greater than the whole. We can make things better – probably the closest thing we have to there being a meaning for life.
Communities, especially tech communities, are inherently dynamic and ever-changing.

We thank Tom Murphy for this post.

If You Build It, Makers Will Come

Chilean makers are helping to change a culture of “waiting to a culture of “doing.”

Robo-Hacker!

We been doing some brainstorming at Peoplehunt and we’ve decided to add hub locations like Coworking spaces and Makerspaces so more people can meet and make awesome things.

As a part of this new project, we’ve been meeting and speaking with different spaces to find out how they bring people together and what innovative collaborations are already underway.

This week, we met with one of the Co-Founders of Stgo. Makerspace, Macarena Pola, to learn about her community.

We asked Macarena how the Makerspace began:

That’s a funny story…

Two years ago I met Tiburcio De La Carcova, who is one of my partners,  and I was looking to develop- not an entrepreneurial culture exactly- but a novel new culture here in Chile.

 I was developing products, and we didn’t have customers. So when I met him he was like, “Yeah! I understand! This culture is crazy. Nobody does this kind of stuff here… nobody develops… Would you like to join me in this adventure of creating a hacker space so that we can create a platform for people to actually make?”

And I was like, “OF COURSE!” It’s as if someone asks you to vacation to the best place in the world. So it was just like that: in a month we found this amazing space, and in two months we were here working with our own hands… building everything. In three months we had a makerspace.

We didn’t even have a business model, and we didn’t even need it. We didn’t have any idea who was going to come, but we had a space and things started happening.

So what’s the objective of this space?

I think for each one of us, this space means different things. For me it’s a change of culture:

Chile and our culture need to change our mindset from people who wait for things to happen, or consume things in order to have access to them… to a society that actually makes the culture and makes the content.

It’s the only way of evolving, it’s the only way of surviving in this crazy world we’re living in. So for me it’s a way of starting to discuss and question our culture, and of proposing new ways of being.

What are some of the cool projects you’ve seen happening?

There are a lot of things actually, but for me the makerspace is about more than just projects. For me, the most amazing things that happen here are about people growing and building themselves into makers.

We have this special case: some guys came here to develop a [university] degree project, and they’ve stayed here… and have not only developed the degree project – which is an amazing instrument for example – but they have opened it up to the world, they’ve given classes about it…they’ve learned how to sell it, and developed a business. They have three partners and now they’re a company! That for me is more important than telling you about every single project we have made because

I think the most important thing that these spaces create is a change in people’s minds.

You have a kid who comes here and after three months he’s transformed and he’s doing, and he’s questioning and… you can feel the change.

And we have the same thing with companies: we have had guys arrive who are groups of people working together and they leave as different companies. Companies that collaborate, companies that work with others and companies that actually understand  the community to be as a basic part of growing. That for me is the most important thing. That’s the biggest project of this space.

Continue reading

6 things we’ve learned from Hunting the Awesome

Over the past couple of months, we’ve been sharing interviews from our #huntTheAwesome YouTube video series. The series features influential community leaders sharing their stories of building communities, plans for the future, and reflections on interesting one-on-one connections they have seen happen as a direct result of their work.

Just think of Peoplehunt as a compass pointing you towards AWESOME

Just think of Peoplehunt as a compass pointing you towards AWESOME

This project has been a dual effort for Peoplehunt, meant both to help us develop the best product possible for our users and also to share with you the best practices we could find for helping you get connected to each other.

So far we’ve met with some amazing influencers. We had the chance to catch up with David Lang, Co-Founder of OpenROV and a crucial member of the Maker community at Maker Faire in NYC; DJ Spooky and Deirdre Haj, director, at IFP; Dina Kaplan of Blip.tv and Tony Bacigalupo, Mayor or New Work City Co-Working space, at the Work Revolution Summit; and Ned Sherman, the CEO of DMW at his DMW Games Conference.

Here’s what we’ve learned so far:

1. We talked to Tony Bacigalupo about his passion: Co-Working. Here’s what he had to say…

…Maybe the ‘awesomest’ thing about a co-working space is it’s ability for serendipity to happen in predictable and unpredictable ways… you’re gonna bump into somebody interesting, and you’re going to make an interesting connection, you’re going to have an interesting conversation… what’s amazing is that we don’t design for it beyond creating the circumstances that allow it to happen.”

Software is something which can allow us to connect to each other in ways where we have something in common that we never would have known had we not had that software to help us find that out”

2. Dina Kaplan co-founder of Blip.tv spoke to us at WorkRevolutionSummit about her extensive experience in the video blogging startup world. Her interview touches on how creating relationships over social media can build trust before you meet the person, what Scott Heiferman and Meetup.com are doing to help communities connect, and how meeting a connector can change your life:

There is a lot of power in developing connections with connectors. They really can change your life, so I actually tell people, throughout the course of your day, notice the people in your life who other people are congregating around… and, if you click with them, be mindful of that and be open to introductions that people make for you.”

3. David Lang built a community by asking the internet for help to build an Underwater Robot.  So how does he keep his community engaged?

It’s the people that really make the project special…. and to really keep that going, you got to keep throwing fuel on the fire… keep adding value… keep contributing…”

We’re always thinking about ways that we can… add value to our community… provide them with new tools, connect them with more people…”

By connecting members of his community based on specialized interests and needs, OpenROV ignited projects that wouldn’t have been possible otherwise:

Archeologists who were going to Mexico to explore these underwater caves in Mexico really wanted an Open ROV… we don’t have any extra ones laying around but we can connect you with Colin [an OpenROV community member]… so Colin flew to Mexico… they found these Mayan artifacts, and got to see things that no one had ever seen before, just because we connected those two groups.”

4. DJ Spooky, “a writer, an artist and a musician”, has built a community over time that reflects global issues, pan humanism and his own cultural perspective. He thinks that’s the right way to go:

I’m a big fan of this idea that sound and djing is about pan humanism – dj culture is global, and whether you’re in Brazil, China, Russia, India, you name it, people deal with beats you know, and it’s a beautiful thing, and I think that people really respond to my work comes from the viewpoint of someone who has really done a lot of research about art and it’s relationship to technology, and also at the same time from the viewpoint of a progressive sense of what African American culture kind of can be a vantage point from because we really I think have experienced a different kind of approach to America and many people around the world are trying to figure that out. So we are the sound of the United States, whether it’s rock, jazz, blues, hip hop, you name it, it comes from this African American experience that just is a very powerful statement about what it means to be human.”

5. Deirdre Haj, executive director of the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival, gave us her incredible insight into how she ensures her community at Full Frame connects with the right people.

The way to meet people at our landscape is to go to their screenings. Show up, go to the Q&A session afterwards, and just walk up to them afterward. Give them your business card and you’re going to end up seeing them later in the day.”

She found social media to be an important component of letting people discover what’s happening, and as a side effect, find each other:

…By keeping people engaged on twitter, and our social media, people are able to find each other. They just reuse those hashtags and they know where things are happening…”

Nothing’s going to replace sitting down and sharing a meal together, and we want to make that happen too, but tech may be the way that you find each other.”

6. Ned Sherman, CEO of DMW,  is the creator of events that bring people together, face-to-face, across the digital media industry, people who are hunting for education, and potential business partners. He noted that they have traditional methods to encourage people to meet the right people:

we have coffee breaks, and lunch breaks, dinners, receptions, some of them are invite only, some of them are open to a general ticket purchaser.”

He said that a great way to add more value in connection with the face-to-face events is to use “software programs that will allow attendees to meet online prior to the event, to do research about one another and to set up meetings, and sync calendars”

If you missed out on any of the videos, you can check them out on our Peoplehunt YouTube Channel, or here on the blog.

What do you think about these tips for connecting? Share your insights with us below!

How to Kill Serendipity

We caught up with Tony Bacigalupo, cofounder of New Work City and here’s what he had to say about how we can design for serendipity and connection between the right people.

He is not only a fan of the design of spaces to encourage more serendipity to happen:

…Maybe the awesomest thing about a co-working space is it’s ability for serendipity to happen in predictable and unpredictable ways… you’re gonna bump into somebody interesting, and you’re going to make an interesting connection, you’re going to have an interesting conversation… what’s amazing is that we don’t design for it beyond creating the circumstances that allow it to happen.

But also of software that can make these hidden interests more visible so we can make the right connections with the people around us:

software… is something which can allow us to connect to each other in ways where we have something in common that we never would have known had we not had that software to help us find that out

Check out the full video here: [with transcript below :)]

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Tony Bacigalupo was interviewed as part of our #huntTheAwesome YouTube video series, featuring influential community leaders sharing their stories of building communities, plans for the future, and reflections on interesting one-on-one connections they have seen happen as a direct result of their work.

Tony Bacigalupo was interviewed alongside Ned Sherman, who connects people in the game industry; David Lang who connects people in the DIY making community and Deirdre Haj who connects filmmakers at her film festival. 

Subscribe here for updates.

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Transcript

I’m the co-founder and mayor of a co-working space, called New Work City. And we primarily gather in a space that we have downtown where basically people get together to do work, to connect with each other, share ideas, and help each other. And we also use it as an event space.

But the main thing that’s happening is that the people who are part of New Work City are people who tend not to be a part of any other sort of work organization… people who work for themselves, whether they’re freelancers, telecommuters, small business owners, consultants, startups, they’re people who are, who would otherwise be on their own, and so by being a part of New Work City, they have an environment, they have a culture, they have a group of people to consider themselves a part of, that they can rely on in a way that they would have to otherwise rely on themselves for.

One of the awesomest things, maybe the awesomest thing about a co-working space is it’s ability for serendipity to happen in predictable and unpredictable ways. If you’re in a co-working space for long enough and usually it happens pretty quickly, you’re gonna bump into somebody interesting, and you’re going to make an interesting connection, you’re going to have an interesting conversation, and what’s amazing is that we don’t design for it beyond creating the circumstances that allow it to happen.

When somebody walks in we try to get to know them, we ask the what they’re trying to do. If we know someone they really should meet, we try to introduce them, but generally speaking these people just find each other by virtue of being in a space that has a certain kind of a culture, that attracts a certain kind of… people who have certain things in common.

Technology is a funny thing. Computers, the internet all this stuff, when it started to get really big, we saw it as something that was taking us away from each other, we saw it as something that was sort of forcing us into our homes where we would sit on the internet instead of going out into real life, and the beauty of what’s happening now, is that technology is becoming something which is helping us to actually connect with each other in real life, in better ways than were ever possible before.

Meetup.com for instance, their mantra, their catchphrase is use the internet to get off the internet, right? And the beauty of that is you find somebody in your area, they have a shared interest with you and now you go to that place and there are all these people that have the same interest that you have. That’s awesome, now you have real life friends that you wouldn’t have had before, right?

And so software in general, is something which can allow us to connect to each other in ways where we have something in common that we never would have known had we not had that software to help us find that out. You know, because we have this fantastic ability to transfer and share information, that I can recognize you because I saw you on this software, and you said that you were into something that I’m into, I can walk right up to you, and not have to guess whether we have something in common. And so, right away, boom, I know we have something to talk about. That’s really powerful, and I think, looking at technology as something which allows us to connect in real life, better than we ever could have before, is a really great way to be looking at things, especially if you’re designing software.

How meeting a connector can change your life, with Dina Kaplan co-founder BlipTv

Continuing on our hunt for awesome, Dina Kaplan co-founder of Blip.tv spoke to us at WorkRevolutionSummit about her extensive experience in the video blogging startup world. Her interview touches on how creating relationships over social media can build trust before you meet the person, what Scott Heiferman and Meetup.com are doing to help communities connect, and how meeting a connector can change your life:

There is a lot of power in developing connections with connectors. They really can change your life, so I actually tell people, throughout the course of your day, notice the people in your life who other people are congregating around… and, if you click with them, be mindful of that and be open to introductions that people make for you.”

She even has a story about two of her users ended up getting married!

If you are in the slightest bit interested in creating community, or looking for insight and inspiration on how to connect with the right people, I highly recommend you watch it all the way to the end, transcript below.

Transcript

I’m an entrepreneur, very involved and passionate about the startup community. When we started Blip which was granted a few years ago, there were all these just great people creating WIM shows, at the time they were actually called video blogs, and each of these folks were really artists or filmmakers but they were working on their own projects, maybe in Iowa or North Dakota, or Taiwan, or somewhere around the world, they were really on their own, and it was really exciting for us to be part of the many tools that were bringing these video bloggers together, and really helping to create community.

I’m now very interested in the world of meditation for example, and there are all sorts of people who are meditating, not just in India, and not just in places all over the Far East, which you may expect, but here in the west as well, so its been really nice to spend time with these different communities and see how this is spreading. In terms of one-to-one interaction among communities, it’s a great thing to think about because it’s really changing. It used to be the only way that you could correspond with someone one-on-one was either in person or on the phone but in the video blogging community, for example, there was this great story of two folks in different parts of the country in the US who were posting video blogs of their lives and they really enjoyed watching each other’s video stories and they, I think once they called each other or something, somehow they ended up sending video to each other, one-to-one and they ended up meeting and they ended up getting married, and it was this beautiful way of thinking that they can tell stories about their lives, with video, share them on the internet and then become life partners. They’ve been together for over 5 years now, so I love that story.

In terms of developing a one-on-one connection with someone within a community, I really think that most often happens in person. My friend Ori Brafman wrote a book called Click, about that magical moment, it could be even a few seconds, when you start talking with someone and you just know that you have this instant connection with them, so in order to foster that, there’s certain things that you can do, but, you know when it happens, and so in the end it’s what my friend Scott Heiferman who started Meetup.com says, he says we’ve created American offline, so, in the end, when you’re part of a community, I think there’s a huge power in meeting with people in person and just seeing who you click with.

There have been people who’ve been incredibly inspirational for me and also incredibly helpful in terms of really becoming part of the startup community, and growing a real business, and also pursuing my own passions, which is also important when you are working really hard, you shouldn’t just be working really hard, you become a lot less interesting as a person, I think you actually lose some perspective on your business, so early in my career in the startup world, I met Oren Hoffman who’s an uber connector and a wonderful person, a CEO in San Francisco, and he introduced me to people who became not only investors in my company, but also some of my very best friends in the world and so, there is a lot of power in developing connections with connectors. They really can change your life so I actually tell people, throughout the course of your day, notice the people in your life who other people are congregating around. It may not be the most powerful person, it may not be the most whatever person, but that person has some sort of good energy or charisma or something about them that means that others gather around them, so pay attention to that, and, if you click with them, be mindful of that and be open to introductions that people make for you.

So in this day and age, software absolutely can help people forge connections and connect with a community in ways that of course were never possible before. I think it’s great that people who feel like, used to feel, I’m the only person with this passion, whatever it is, could be kitesurfing, it could be, you know, whatever interest it is, now they can find a whole community of like minded people online, and for sure when I first met, for example, Steve Garfield, who’s a wonderful entrepreneur, investor, and thought leader based out of Austin, I’d been following him on social networks for so long, when I met him I really felt like I knew him, I felt like it was sort of an honor to meet him and he said I can’t believe I’m meeting you, and I said I feel the same, so I think it develops, I don’t know, almost like an instant level of trust with someone, if you’ve been following them on, whatever it is, twitter, on facebook, or whatever other platform maybe instagram, and then you get to meet them, and you just, you feel instantly relaxed, like I know you, almost like they’re part of your set of friends or your family, so I think it’s a really beautiful thing

I Love Documentaries


documentary-film

I was raised on Nova and Eyewitness films, and grew up almost completely uninterested in normal television. As an adult, I’m the type of person who believes that God and Science are one, NPR is bread and butter, and one of the most memorable films I have seen lately is All in This Tea. For me written dramas have always paled in comparison to film that explores the infinite diversity of the world and universe.

Don’t get me wrong. I love a good Hollywood blockbuster- I am a blossoming Avengers fan. But as I try to compare Iron Man to Zana Briski, the photographer behind the film Born into Brothels or the stunning scenery from the Planet Earth series, Tony Stark pales.

I love documentaries because I find real-life to be intoxicatingly interesting. Documentaries are microcosms of Truths captured on celluloid (or perhaps more commonly to SD cards these days) sculpted meticulously by both the lense and the creativity of the human mind. I love the voices of the narrators, who I imagine to be tiny gods in the visual pantheon (See Morgan Freeman, March of the Penguins). But mostly, I love the way that I am reminded of how incredible and unfathomable and really, magical, the world is.

I wouldn’t consider myself a film buff and claim no expertise on documentary filmmaking. In fact, all I really have to offer in terms of credentials are a Netflix account, a curious mind, and smart friends to thank for referrals. Perhaps you’ll be swayed in spite of this, to consider the list of films that I’ve compiled below: Documentaries that have amazed me, educated me, and seduced me.

Download the Peoplehunt App to find Documentary Film Lovers, Filmmakers, and Festivals wherever you are or are planning to be!

Born into Brothels- A documentary film photographer goes to Calcutta to photograph prostitutes. While there, she befriends their children and teaches them photography. To learn about the filmmakers’ ongoing work visit http://www.kids-with-cameras.org/bornintobrothels/

Blue Alchemy- “BLUE ALCHEMY: Stories of Indigo is a feature-length documentary about indigo, a blue
 dye that has captured the human imagination for millennia. It is also about people who are reviving indigo in projects that are intended to improve life in their communities, preserve cultural integrity, improve the environment, and bring beauty to the world.” http://www.bluealchemyindigo.com/

All in This Tea- All in This Tea follows the American tea connoisseur David Lee Hoffman as he travels to remote tea-growing areas of China. Hoffman attempts to interest Chinese tea growers and distributors in fair trade issues, and explores the importance of terroir and organic growing methods in both the quality and future sustainability of the Chinese tea market. http://www.allinthistea.com/

Happy – The title says it all. This film explores the science of happiness, the things that make us happy, and happy people around the world. Needless to say, it is uplifting. http://www.thehappymovie.com/film/

When the Levees Broke- Academy Award-nominated director Spike Lee’s When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts, examines the devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina in the late summer of 2005 and the response to the catastrophe from U.S. government agencies. http://www.hbo.com/documentaries/when-the-levees-broke-a-requiem-in-four-acts