Chapter Five

It’s been a few weeks since we last posted here, reflecting the flexibility that we have as independent workers and business owners. School holidays are now over and many of our members have chosen to work from home or to take time to care for their kids during this time. So our last couple of sessions of hills coworking have been quiet affairs, though some dedicated (or less child-encumbered?) souls still turned up to work 🙂

We’d like to tell you about one person in particular we met last week, who found us not through our page, our social groups or through a desire to start coworking in the area, but from a Google search for something like “Cooperative-Office-Sharing-Dandenong-Ranges”. Needless to say with our desire to mix the cooperative and coworking models, he came upon our website, found our Wednesday Hills Coworking events and dropped in on us for lunch, coffee and a chat.

He was actually trying to find one or maybe two like-minded people that might like to share lease costs on commercial office-space somewhere that wasn’t his home. (Aren’t we all…) Instead he found a community of 30+ people all wanting to do the same thing in the same area! Those of us there were stoked to hear that story and we hope he brings his publication and editorial experience back our way sometime soon.

Also this week, we’re going to share an excerpt from a Harvard Business Review article on some of the reasons why coworking helps already awesome people get even better at what they do!

Why People Thrive in Coworking Spaces

by Gretchen Spreitzer, Peter Bacevice and Lyndon Garrett

“There seems to be something special about coworking spaces. As researchers who have, for years, studied how employees thrive, we were surprised to discover that people who belong to them report levels of thriving that approach an average of 6 on a 7-point scale. This is at least a point higher than the average for employees who do their jobs in regular offices, and something so unheard of that we had to look at the data again.

MAY15_13_cospaceIt checked out. So we were curious: What makes coworking spaces – defined as membership-based workspaces where diverse groups of freelancers, remote workers, and other independent professionals work together in a shared, communal setting – so effective? And are there lessons for more traditional offices?

To find out, we interviewed several coworking space founders and community managers, and surveyed several hundred workers from dozens of coworking spaces around the U.S. A regression analysis following our survey revealed three substantial predictors of thriving:

People who use coworking spaces see their work as meaningful. Aside from the type of work they’re doing – freelancers choosing projects they care about, for example — the people we surveyed reported finding meaning in the fact that they could bring their whole selves to work. They’re able to do this in a few ways.

First, unlike a traditional office, coworking spaces consist of members who work for a range of different companies, ventures, and projects. Because there is little direct competition or internal politics, they don’t feel they have to put on a work persona to fit in. Working amidst people doing different kinds of work can also make one’s own work identity stronger. Our respondents were given the opportunity to frequently describe what they do, which can make what they do seem more interesting and distinctive.

Second, meaning may also come from working in a culture where it is the norm to help each other out, and there are many opportunities to do so; the variety of workers in the space means that coworkers have unique skill sets that they can provide to other community members.

Lastly, meaning may also be derived from a more concrete source: The social mission inherent in the Coworking Manifesto, an online document signed by members of more than 1,700 working spaces. It clearly articulates the values that the coworking movement aspires to, including community, collaboration, learning, and sustainability. These values get reinforced at the annual Global Coworking UnConference. So in many cases, it’s not simply the case that a person is going to work; they’re also part of a social movement.

They have more job control. Coworking spaces are normally accessible 24/7. People can decide whether to put in a long day when they have a deadline or want to show progress, or can decide to take a long break in the middle of the day to go to the gym. They can choose whether they want to work in a quiet space so they can focus, or in a more collaborative space with shared tables where interaction is encouraged. They can even decide to work from home, without repercussion, if they need to meet a repairperson or deal with a family member need.

And while coworkers value this autonomy, we also learned that they equally value some form of structure in their professional lives. Too much autonomy can actually cripple productivity because people lack routines. Coworkers reported that having a community to work in helps them create structures and discipline that motivates them. Thus, paradoxically, some limited form of structure enables an optimal degree of control for independent workers.

They feel part of a community. Connections with others are a big reason why people pay to work in a communal space, as opposed to working from home for free or renting a nondescript office. Each coworking space has its own vibe, and the managers of each space go to great lengths to cultivate a unique experience that meets the needs of their respective members.”

Read the rest of this HBR article which can be found at:

We reckon this is a great description of what we’re hoping to achieve with our Yarra Ranges Coworking community and our individual reasons for joining will be as different as the work that we bring with us.