Under One Roof: Coworking

Businesswoman with Handheld DeviceMore and more women have struck out on their own, becoming freelancers or entrepreneurs. Yet despite the perks of striking out solo—flexible scheduling, the ability to pursue passion projects—there can still be something missing. Working for yourself means no water cooler chats, no brainstorming sessions. And that’s where coworking comes in.

A coworking space, or collective, allows people from different industries to come together under roof. Although people may be working for themselves, they are surrounded by like-minded individuals, fostering creative energy that’s lacking when working at home in PJs. Coworking is a well-educated Gen X and Gen Y phenomenon. According to a survey of American coworkers conducted by Desk Magazine, 78% are under age 40. 75% of coworkers have at least a bachelor’s degree, which is more than twice the national average.

Moxy talked to two women from different disciplines about why they made the leap into this style of work. Karen Vasconi-Milton owns the employment agency Career Connections Associates LLC and works out of W@tercooler in Tarrytown, NY. Evona W. Niewiadomska is a freelance digital media and design creative, working out of Workbar in Boston. She’s also Workbar’s digital media and event’s manager. In that role she manages the space’s social media, email marketing and blog, designs all print and digital marketing collateral and organizes Lunch and Learn’s.

Moxy: Before co-working, what was your work situation?

Vasconi-Milton: I was working in a “shared-services” environment.  It very quickly became quite clear that this was not going to work for my business and what I was trying to do. I was the only woman-owned business and the environment was very sterile.  Most of the candidates and companies I work with come to me in crisis mode and I needed to find a kinder place from which to run my business. I began researching co-working opportunities and spaces and found W@tercooler in Tarrytown, NY.

Niewiadomska: Before starting at Workbar I held a few internship positions around Boston in digital marketing, SEO and social media, all of which took place in traditional offices downtown.  My experience has always been working with startups because, as an entrepreneur, I love being at the ground level of a company and growing it from concept up.

Moxy: What drew you to the concept of co-working?

Vasconi-Milton: The straightforward answer is resources. A few examples: we have a travel agent, a web designer, attorneys, photographers and providers of many, many other business services. We all work in the same space, we observe work habits, we refer business back and forth.  Several other business owners and I have organized networking functions in this space and we’ve all written business plans from just these functions. This is not something a private office or shared services environment could or would foster.

Niewiadomska: To be honest, before Workbar I was completely unfamiliar to the concept of coworking.  I had to learn a lot very quickly as it was my job to market, manage and grow the businesses as the only employee in the company … and that was the case for almost three years. Coworking gave me coworkers, camaraderie and a professional — as well as social —network, since the Workbar team was so small!

Moxy: How has your own work benefited from the communal environment?

Vasconi-Milton: This is truly a very comfortable environment for my clients. It affords me the opportunity to provide many more services than my competitors. As the owner of a contingency staffing firm, I am contracted to find and secure talent. In many cases the searches are confidential, so the resources come in handy.  Many of my clients utilize the conference room space for meetings, interviews, training, etc. On a more personal note, as I said, my network has expanded exponentially.   Working alone in an office or working alone from home can sometimes lead to what I call “working in a vacuum” mentality, which doesn’t really occur in a co-working environment.

Niewiadomska: Until recently, my only co-workers aside from my boss have been the Workbar coworking community, so I have truly been on both sides of the table as a coworking space employee and member.  The Workbar community has been immensely valuable, both professionally and personally. Hours of troubleshooting projects can be quickly cut down to just a few minutes with help from someone in the office who’s an expert in the field. Personally, I have also formed many friendships through social interactions and events.  I have also formed one very special romantic relationship with one of the members at Workbar. In fact, in a couple of months we will be testing the true freedom of mobile work style, by traveling Europe together and working remotely in 2013,  visiting other coworking spaces around the globe!

Moxy: What would you say to other freelancers and entrepreneurs who are curious about co-working spaces?

Vasconi-Milton: Try it!  That’s the beauty of this sort of situation.  In most cases, coworking spaces offer flexible plans, trial plans, etc.  I would suggest to any business owner or freelancer thinking of trying a regional co-working space to start with a small package and try it.  It’s how I got started here and it was the best and smartest move I ever made.

Niewiadomska: Coworking takes all the benefits of a traditional office as a point of productivity and social interaction and takes out the office politics and drama. If done right, and with a certain level of effortlessness, a coworking space becomes an instant hot bed for business collaborations and helps businesses grow.  I’ve seen incredible partnerships and serendipitous relationships form within days due to the power of the coworking community. Of course, depending on your personality and workplace needs, it’s not for everyone. For anyone that’s curious, I suggest checking a couple places out, because each space and its community are different.

Article written by Danielle Bullen for Moxy Magazine, November 2012. 

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

About Danielle Bullen

Danielle Bullen was bit by the writing bug early and it never left. She wrote her first story before she was in kindergarten. Danielle grew up in Havertown, PA, just outside of Philadelphia. She earned her English degree at Saint Joseph’s University, where she wrote an op-ed column for The Hawk, and liked it so much, she stayed on Hawk Hill and got her M.A. in Writing. Studies. Her further writing adventures included Making Bread magazine, Haverford college’s newsletter and magazine, the web sites Campusphilly.com, Mostlyfiction.com, Mavenmagphiladelphia.com, and Padosa.com. Currently, she works as a magazine editor. When she’s not writing or reading anything she can get her hands on, you can find her at yoga class, drinking massive amounts of coffee, cheering on the Phillies, or at game night with her friends. You can find her on Twitter at @daniellewriter and read some of her past work at www.daniellebullenwriting.weebly.com.

Comments are closed.