Why Coworking Really Matters (Hint: It Has Nothing to Do With the Space)

My work involves helping people dig up their deep passions so they can express them in the world. When a client has just taken the leap from the corporate world, coworking spaces are the absolute first thing I recommend. They are a venue, a community and a culture—they are whatever you make them.

But even with the broad view that those of us immersed in the coworking world have, I think that when we talk about coworking, we often dance around the point—that at their deepest level, they can be containers and facilitators for our own self-realization.

While the specific community you choose is important, the space in which it’s contained is not what this revolution in work is about—it’s about the growing number of people who are able to live all of their passions and expression through their work and relationships.

There is sometimes a distancing that happens when it comes to work and work spaces in general—and even coworking spaces. We talk about their features: the wifi, the events, the coffee, and yes, the culture and communities.

Those things have varying levels of importance, but I think most important of all is that coworking is vital in supporting people who choose healthy, sustainable work they love. Coworking can help people truly come alive.

What if we looked at coworking this way—as an empowering space for growth, exploration and self-evolution?

I believe we need to shift the conversation from how much work we can get done in our space, to the kind of expansive, supportive, nourishing work we can do—the things that make us come alive, that represent our fullest expression—and use that awareness to catalyze soul-fulfilling projects within our coworking space.

The difference in focus is subtle, but powerful.

Here are a few simple ways you can be intentional about letting your coworking space help you support your dreams.

Craft your schedule to reflect your true goals.

You can work whenever you want. Fabulous. But are you working on the things you care about?

Even when we’re inspired, we often don’t do the very things we say that we love doing. Focus on creating enough structure to allow space for your inspired work—because it’s your job to create it.

And you know what? If the actual hours of 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. work for you—freaking go for it. We don’t need to demonize the 9 to 5. If you are, you’re actually still engaging in a negative relationship with it.

Be strict then soft with yourself, and figure out the balance that works best. You get to decide how you make your living in this world, and that’s beautiful.

Join or create a group of intentional goal-reachers in your space.

In two of my most frequented coworking spaces, there are programs that help members set goals and motivate themselves when they’re their own boss.

At Scrib (Boulder, Colo.), I’ve facilitated Work ‘n Wine, a Monday night gathering of entrepreneurial women who come to work on the things that truly move themselves and their businesses forward (not just tread water with emails and maintenance tasks). Cotivation at New Work City (NYC) is an accountability group that meets weekly for an hour to set goals and check in with each other on their progress.

There’s help out there. In most spaces, you do not need permission to start an event that will help people. Don’t be afraid to ask if something like this exists or if you can be the one to start it. It’s also a great way to get to know your fellow coworkers—you never know what great things may come from it.

Networking? Forget about it. Try magic instead.

Coworking spaces are designed to facilitate our creativity and our transition into doing the work that makes us thrive, and that’s what we should be focusing on. They’re a breeding ground for magical connection and serendipity.

The reason I prefer “magic” to “networking” is because when you open yourself up to connection and don’t try to force it is when we have the best collaborative experiences. Don’t worry about power networking in your coworking space’s kitchen in an aggressive attempt to friend every single member. Get cozy and contemplative with yourself, and try to vibe out which people make you feel truly expansive. When you can look at it from this soft space, you’re much more likely to make deep, vibrant connections.

 

Most importantly: Realize you are choosing this lifestyle and workstyle. Make it worth it.

If you’re just using a coworking space as a space to work, you’re missing the point. Coworking spaces are the first infrastructure designed to support, quite literally, our self-realization on the planet. Let’s take advantage of that.

As Howard Thurman said: “Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive and then go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”

Through our own discovery and expression of our passions, we help other people give themselves permission to do the same.

This is how a world changes.

Originally published in New Worker Magazine.
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