Editors Note: We initially pushed back on publishing this piece, but Steven is one of the most progressive voices in town. His vision for transportation and development is forward looking and educated. With designBox having bowed out of the coworking space rental for now, the Raleigh Forum is all that's left. For Waters, this is an important element in the downtown cultural fabric.
As North Carolina transitions from a manufacturing to services economy, downtown Raleigh continues to spawn new business ventures that are so innovative, their business types are not even included in most dictionaries yet. For example, this past August, The Raleigh Forum joined mainstay Designbox to help meet the growing demand downtown for “coworking.”
Coworking includes any type of shared work environment (usually an office) made up of part- and/or full-time members working independently, whether for a set of clients or a single company. It is different from traditional shared office space because in addition to a kitchen, restrooms, conference room and other office resources being shared, most or all of the actual work spaces themselves are also shared.
These full-service facilities are particularly well-suited to the needs of individuals working in fields that thrive on collaboration, such as web development, programming and software design, graphic design, architecture, public relations, marketing, advertising, film, journalism, music and art, among many others. These creative industries benefit tremendously from a cross-pollination of ideas, and sometimes even direct collaboration on projects where each participant brings some complimentary skill to the table with which they have a comparative advantage.
It is not only freelancers and entrepreneurs, but even telecommuters working for a single company who can benefit from the flexibility and interaction afforded by coworking. Anyone who has ever worked from home for long enough has probably noticed something is missed when those so-called “water cooler” conversations do not occur. It is through those spontaneous interactions -- which by definition cannot be planned -- that coworking helps to create awareness of opportunities in new areas or with new clients, creates a sense of community, and even creates the pretext for meaningful networking before, after and in between the work itself. This is the perfect antidote to those functions which are explicitly and shamelessly promoted for their networking potential, but which often fail to move beyond the surface level to any appreciable depth.
If you are a telecommuter, freelancer or entrepreneur working from home or considering it, you can get in on the action at no cost this Friday, January 20th from 9am-5pm at The Raleigh Forum’s Jellyweek Open Day at 133½ S. Wilmington St. A “jelly” is an informal coworking event where a group of independent workers can gather to work together. This event is the only known jelly being organized anywhere in North Carolina as part of Worldwide Jellyweek 2012. A representative of the Downtown Raleigh Alliance will speak during the brownbag lunch at 12:30pm at 208 S. Wilmington St. Don’t miss it!