Wait, So Co-Working Isn’t Great?

coworking, startups, editorial

Co-working is all the rage these days, and for good reason. Many co-working spaces geared towards startups are really hybrid incubator programs. While co-working isn’t new, it’s definitely grown in popularity.

Today’s co-working spaces are often colocated with other startup programs. Those that aren’t housing an accelerator often host small workshops and other curriculum based activities for their members. Of course spaces like 1871, 1776 in DC and The Nashville Entrepreneur Center all house coworking space, incubation space, and accelerators.

Ok so if you’re not familiar, co-working spaces are office space where you can rent a desk or desk space through membership. They’re ideal for those entrepreneurs, startups, small businesses, and remote workers who work out of the house and either need some real interaction with human beings or want to keep their work life and home life separate. Most co-working spaces offer a variety of plans whether it be a few days a month, weekly, monthly, or annually.

Most co-working spaces throw in all of the necessities for work as well. Coffee machines, fax machines, internet, copiers, and other business tools are often included in rent or membership fees. Many co-working spaces also have lecture rooms, meeting rooms, and conference rooms available for their members to either claim, reserve, or rent.

Bigger cities usually have multiple co-working spaces, and there are several startups like DC based Speek and DC based CONT3NT which actually work out of two locations (1776 and Fishbowl).

Many co-working spaces, including Nashville’s Entrepreneur Center, 1871, 1776, CoWork Jax, and The Iron Yard in South Carolina have generously allowed Nibletz to work out of their space while traveling.

The other underlying idea behind co-working is collaboration and collision. You may find your next great technical co-founder or a developer at the coworking space you’re working at. You may be able to provide some much needed business development help to another entrepreneur, and heck, just like school and college, you may make friends. Wow!

Most co-working spaces are available around the clock and many of them also have activities outside of general “work” like cookouts and even field trips. Several co-working spaces also facilitate mentorship or in-service days for local law firms, PR firms, and accounting offices. All in the name of spurring innovation, growth, startups and the economy right?

Well this past weekend Business Insider took a different look in a piece called Montessori Management. In that piece they explored the backlash that several entrepreneurs are having in the co-working space.

Some entrepreneurs feel that co-working is distracting. Others feel that co-working spaces are ripe for stealing ideas, and many feel like forced collaboration actually feels–well–forced.

Business Insider takes a much deeper look though, tracing the roots of Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page who had Montessori educations. An education that promotes democratic learning, collaboration where everyone has a voice.  Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales also had Montessori educations.

Knocking down walls and throwing in gigantic tables for everyone to work at seems like a good idea on the surface. Perhaps in the startup or small business “co-working model” it works. It seems to work whenever we work out of a co-working space, but for big corporations is it the way to go?

Some people believe that the forced collaboration and the atmosphere created by it can actually be detrimental to business. To some the “Kumbaya” approach to working and collaboration isn’t the way to go.  “A focus on interpersonal harmony can actually hurt team performance,” Mark de Rond a Cambridge academic told The Economist. Sometimes there is so much collaboration and so many meetings on top of meetings that people are meeting and collaborating to decide if they are going to meet and collaborate, all the while getting nothing done.

Shifting back to the startup co-working space though, I am definitely still on the side that co-working is good for startups. With the failure rate of startups, co-working spaces give you an opportunity to meet like minded colleagues who may need you or who you may need down the road. In our experience, nothing bad has come out of co-working. In fact we got our Managing Editor after co-working at the LaunchPad in Memphis.

And, just so you know, here are some great coworking spaces around the country.


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