There is More to Co-Working Than the Buzz Word Descriptions

Update 01/08/10 @9:45pm

Check out the ABC News piece. It’s not bad. They actually took a different approach, though I don’t know if “giggers” and “giganomics” is a good alternative to “co-working.” Be nice if someone would do a more in-depth feature piece. I bet it’d be helpful.


Perhaps it is the circles in which I find myself traveling lately, or perhaps I was just early to the party, before the torrent of people rushed to jump on the “co-working” band wagon. Perhaps it is neither, but “co-working” seems in danger of becoming overused, or a common word.

Crain’s Chicago Business has been to @officeport to film a segment on “co-working.” There was also this interview with Jason Goodrich, and then the WSJ Cranky Consumer “tested” various co-working spots and tonight, ABC World News with Diane Sawyer will feature a segment on co-working (also with OfficePort and Jason Goodrich). Though the press is good, it all sounds the same. Laptops. Cells phones. Bean bag chairs. Entrepreneurs. Collaboration Almost like no one can see below the surface of buzz words. Or no one bothers to look. After all, such an environment must be full of transients, how could anything possibly sink below the surface of buzz words?

I find that rather disappointing.

There is more to co-working than buzz words, and what lies beneath depends on the culture developed by the location as well as the people that inhabit the space.

Every piece (so far) about co-working consistently overlooks an important aspect: office politics.

Yes. Office politics. Or what is commonly referred to as bureaucracy. A task must be communicated up the chain for approval, before it is filtered back down for completion. Along the way, there are parties jostling for a piece or demanding a change, if not a complete overhaul. Someone doesn’t like the person who has been assigned the task. Another feels left out of the decision making process, or worse, feels entitled to be part of the decision making process despite being far removed from the task. It becomes survival of the fittest, each willing to stab the other in the back even though you are all working for the same team, and wanting to accomplish the same goal.

The “collaborative environment” turns out to be a constant power grab, where finger pointing is the only daily activity.

Granted, that might be a gross generalization, but it is meant to illustrate a point: office politics is absent from co-working. Or such has been my experience so far.

At OfficePort, we individually and collectively run the show. We have diverse talents, though at times it seems as if we all possess the same talent. I should say a few of us possess the same or similar talents, but have applied them to different niches. There is a genuine interest in the success of each person.

When’s the last time you walked into your place of business (unemployment office or elsewhere) and automatically knew the people there not only wanted you to succeed,  but wanted to help you succeed?

So while you’re reading/listening to yet another piece on “co-working,” try to think a little deeper, and take look beneath the surface. You’ll find something more enjoyable than another list of buzz words.


2 Responses to There is More to Co-Working Than the Buzz Word Descriptions

  1. Shaul Jolles says:

    Gwynne, I love reading your blogs. You are always one step ahead.

  2. Gwynne Monahan says:

    Thanks Shaul!

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