For most of America, people who work still have a traditional job. They go to work; they work in a workplace alongside other workers. They have an office, or a cubicle, or work in a factory, and they have fellow workers, and get to know their fellow workers.
And, when you read all the articles about employee engagement, and employment rates, they are mostly focused on such jobs.
But, in another segment — a growing segment, it seems — there are people who work without going to work in such a place. (I am one of them).
And, many of the benefits of traditional work are beyond our grasp. If you work in a home office, as I do, there is no break room, no water cooler conversation.
Enter the “Co-working” trend. The Dallas Morning News highlighted this trend in this article: Co-working industry exploding in North Texas by Hanah Cho. Here are some excerpts:
The co-working industry in North Texas is exploding. In the last two years, at least a dozen places have opened to cater to entrepreneurs, startups and freelancers who want to share office space.
Developers and entrepreneurs believe there is strong demand for co-working spaces in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, given the region’s economy, changing demographics and increase in startup business activity.
“As more people work remotely as contractors, solopreneurs or mobile employees, shared office space has become an appealing and more affordable option. Instead of long-term leases, co-working members typically pay fees ranging from $20 for a day pass to $1,000 a month for a private office.
Fees cover amenities such as high-speed Internet, printing, a shared kitchen, bottomless coffee and occasionally beer.
Most important, co-working spaces tend to share a similar mission: to build community and foster collaboration. Instead of tenants, there are members who share ideas, barter services and mingle outside of work. Many Dallas area co-working spaces host business workshops and other programming as well as after-work events for their members.
“When I work at home, I start to get depressed and kind of isolated,” said Amy King, founder of Nested Strategies, a branding and creative consulting firm. “When I’m sitting in a collaborative work environment, even though I don’t talk to anyone, I feel like I’m not alone. If I get stuck on something, I could walk 20 feet and [say], ‘Hey, does anyone know WordPress or could anyone help me with this?’”
It’s been a lot of years since I read Bowling Alone by Robert Putnam. For the vast majority of workers in America, they still work like they have for decades, by going to work, and working with others at work. They do not work alone.
But, for this growing contingent of solo folks, we are working alone, drinking water and coffee alone, and having a lot of conversations with ourselves. For people like me, this new trend could help provide one of the many pluses of a good work life – a sense of community. And co-working could help stimulate that creativity and collaboration need that breakthrough thinking requires.
It’s going to be worth watching.