Coworking takes shared office space to the next level

Coworking takes shared office space to the next level

January, 19, 2012 , by Steven Waters

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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!








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  • Steven Waters
    01/20 08:11 AM

    I hope folks will come check out this free coworking event today from 9-5, including the brownbag (bring your own) lunch presentation by the Downtown Raleigh Alliance at 12:30pm.

  • MarkJ
    01/20 10:50 AM

    As an entrepreneur working from home, I’ve got to say, that’s a lot of money and inconvenience (compared to working from home) for the off-chance that a “water cooler” discussion will yield some profound business breakthrough.

  • Steven Waters
    01/20 11:02 AM

    Well there’s about a 100% chance you won’t get any meaningful networking done from home, but it would probably only be worthwhile if you’re in a creative industry that thrives on collaboration. If you’re a successful entrepreneur, then hopefully $25 a day is not a lot of money! It’s definitely cheaper and far more flexible than traditional shared office spaces.

  • AL
    01/20 03:19 PM

    Steven, I am glad you pushed to post this message, I only wish the email for it got sent out earlier than 3pm today. I also think the editor’s note is ridiculous… why would you even think of not publishing this? It is a legitimate event happening in Raleigh. Do you have something against networking and collaboration between individuals?

  • Steven Waters
    01/20 03:29 PM

    Yes, New Raleigh definitely does support networking and collaboration between individuals, and I think the issue was that this piece I wrote reads almost like an advertisement for a specific company. As noted by the editor, The Raleigh Forum is currently the only known provider in Raleigh of “coworking” as opposed to traditional shared office space. However, Designbox is planning to begin offering coworking again soon, and I expect this market will continue to grow and have room for others as well.

  • Mary-Ann Baldwin
    01/24 10:50 AM

    Wilmoore Lofts, next to the Wilmoore Cafe, also provides coworking space. Just FYI. There’s also coworking space available at North Hills. I believe these two entities charge by the month, not by the day as The Raleigh Forum does. All great ideas, bound to move our City forward.

  • Cristina
    01/24 01:18 PM

    Steven- thank you so much for posting this piece on The Raleigh Forum and for fostering such a great discussion on shared office spaces.

    Mary Ann- we love having the Wilmoore Lofts on the same street as us :) We offer full-time and part-time monthly memberships, in addition to day passes.

    -Cristina (co-owner of The Raleigh Forum)

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