Community Building in Coworking
Driving through the downtown areas of cities such as Denver, Seattle, Portland, and Los Angeles, it seems like coworking spaces are popping up everywhere you look. There’s a wide range of coworking spaces in major cities, some of them occupying newly renovated industrial buildings while other coworking spaces are located in charming curated boutique storefronts. No matter what its style or layout, coworking spaces are not only an alternative to working from home, they provide a synergistic environment for people to meet, network, and of course, get work done. It may be a bit more challenging to spot coworking spaces within the Southern Oregon region than in some of the bigger cities, but they are influencing the way Southern Oregoners and its visitors work, interact, and build community.
According to GitNux Blog (2023), it’s predicted there will be 41,975 coworking spaces in the world by 2024. Coworking spaces often offer people annual, monthly, or weekly memberships; and most of them provide the option for a day pass if you are a visitor or need a space to work for the day. Most coworking spaces have an open-floor plan, a bit like a cafe or a library where you can see other people working as opposed to cubicles where people are blocked off from each other. There are usually private rooms individuals or groups can rent as well.
When I first started to use coworking spaces when I lived on the east coast over a decade ago, they were very practical and utilitarian to one’s needs. There were often multiple electrical outlets, tables, chairs, and a small coffee station. In the early 2000s, coworking spaces served their purpose for people often working in tech: they were a place to work and collaborate. Now, coworking spaces come with numerous bells and whistles, and are expected to be well-appointed with modern furniture, options of standing or sitting desks, private rooms, conference rooms, noise-reducing booths for Zoom calls, and an abundance of snacks. The coworking space my husband and I owned, Catalyst Ashland, had a podcast studio, computer and mobile device repair service, art gallery, and even a wine bar within our building. We were inspired by other coworking spaces such as Cloudroom in Seattle, a woman-owned coworking space whose decor is thoughtfully curated, and CTRL in Pasadena, California, that designed a former fitness center location into a modern and efficient coworking space of multiple floors where individuals can find a range of working spaces ranging from open desks to private conference rooms.
As coworking spaces become more intentional in creating inclusive spaces for diverse populations and people of all ages, cultures, genders, and accessibility needs, they become a starting point for bringing entrepreneurs and community members together, as well as provide pleasant environments to work individually or collaboratively. Many of us have had experiences of desperately looking for a cafe or a conference space to hold a small gathering or get some work done, often having to limit ourselves to the library or the nearest Starbucks. Places like Medford Coworks, owned by Abigail Schilling, provides its Southern Oregon locals with a location to hold meetings, conference calls, or just a comfortable place for individuals to get work done. I first visited Medford Coworks several years ago when my family and I participated in an artist’s photography project and she used Medford Coworks as her location for her photoshoot for her art project.
With the pandemic still in existence and what seems like the never-ending increase of rent for housing and office space, coworking spaces have become more than just a practical way of working, but also a way of providing access to interacting with our communities, resources, and technology. If you’re interested in trying one, most coworking spaces offer a day pass. You may be amazed at the amount of work you get done in an environment that is curated towards your work needs!
Barufatti, A. (2023, August 18). Coworking statistics 2023: facts and data. Gitnux Blog. https://blog.gitnux.com/coworking-statistics
Photos provided by the author – Precious Yamaguchi, Ph.D.
By Precious Yamaguchi, Ph.D.