Coworking is like shared office space, except it’s more than that. Coworking works best when it’s a community, too. If you’re trying to build more entrepreneurship in your town, coworking is a smart place to focus.
A new study from Emergent Research and partners showed that coworking spaces are human spaces.
“The key finding is while coworking spaces are definitely workspaces, they are also much more,” they said. “They are places where members work, network, learn and socialize together.”
In their research, coworking members reported:
- improving professional success
- learning new skills
- attending events at the coworking space
- feeling happier and less lonely in their work.
- Those are all outcomes you’d love to see from any entrepreneurial program in your town!
Read the research summary here: http://buff.ly/1FkTtY3
Can this really work in a small town? Yes.
Rural and small town coworking was a big topic at the Global Coworking Conference Unconference held last month.
“No longer contained to cities, coworking spaces are popping up in cities and towns of all sizes. These spaces have unique challenges and are well-served to learn from each other. From tiny towns in Texas, to isolated mountain towns and even islands, coworking is becoming a part of communities of all makeups and sizes.”
What is coworking really? It’s an office space that caters to mobile or location-independent workers or people who otherwise work from home or in coffee shops or libraries. In fact, many libraries are starting to add coworking spaces because they have so many of the required elements.
What are the required elements for a coworking space?
- open working areas with desks or tables and chairs
- power outlets
- strong wifi
That’s about it for requirements. You probably have some office space in a local incubator, belonging to an economic development group, or in a local educational facility that you could re-purpose. Maybe you have a business that just has way more office space than they need. Or there’s an empty building with potential. (You know how we love to see an empty building fill up with potential!)
The key element is community. I successfully persuaded my friends at the Northwest Oklahoma Small Business Development Center in Alva to offer an under-utilized space for coworking. They had the space, outstanding wifi, desks, chairs and all the extras. What we didn’t have was a ready-made community to connect to it. So it doesn’t get as much use as we would like. We have to build the community before it will work.
To get started:
Connect with local people who work from home, coffee shops, the library or any other alternative space. Begin holding work-together days, like Fridays from 10-2 or something. You don’t need a special space for the meetups. The library, coffee shop, or even one big home office will work for now.
Read how little Pella, Iowa, became home to a successful coworking space along with steps for you to take.
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This story originally appeared in my separate weekly email newsletter, A Positive View of Rural.
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Becky started Small Biz Survival in 2006 to share rural business and community building stories and ideas with other small town business people. She and her husband have a small cattle ranch and are lifelong entrepreneurs. Becky is an international speaker on small business and rural topics.