Coworking is more than just a space

In recent weeks, our Yarra Ranges Coworking community has been invited to and involved with various facilitated discussions in the outer-east region concerning coworking, shared workspaces, and entrepreneurial resources and support.

These have been convened by Maroondah, Knox and Yarra Ranges councils, engaging community-led groups such as hackers, makers and local business-people.

OuterEastLogoEach of these discussions have followed a similar theme dealing with space, services, layouts, infrastructure and management of a facility. The fact that each discussion has occurred at all is very welcome and reflects the community demand in our council areas for shared worker/hacker/maker spaces outside of the CBD. It is also a litmus indicator of the larger issue that our region and our first-world nation faces – dealing with changing work styles and increasing work independence.

We’d like to thank the council economic development folks, without whom these conversations would still likely be underground. We’d also like to invite them to foster and participate in the greater discussion about how local government can best support residents transitioning from the industrial age way of working – hierarchical and tied to place and employer – through to the new paradigm of work, which is independent, ad-hoc, collaborative and in-charge.

We are now ushering out the end of the Information Age and are well into the new work revolution, characterised by innovators, collaborators and knowledge workers. The so called ‘Imagination Age‘ is going to take some time to really take hold in our society, though it is here, now and early adopters are reinventing the way they provide for themselves and are creating their own niche professions.

Many of these early adopters are actively searching for new-world collaborators. They are also the people who frequent our regular coworking meetups and they are residents of the eastern suburbs of Melbourne. They seek us out using social media, word of mouth and organic web searches – they travel from afar and join in because of a primal need for a new tribe, more than just the need for office space outside of their homes.

Please don’t misunderstand us, space to work is important – noisy kids, persistent pets, power outages (grrr) and limited facilities can all play their part in the motivation to seek an external office – though it is not the most important factor.

We can talk about spaces, memberships and hot-desking till the end of time – though what will really enable the future of work in our region and salve the need that these folks really have is more discussion around tribes and connectedness – and how our local governments can best service the suppressed demand for a new way of working in Melbourne’s Outer East.

It may sound abstract, fluffy or too high-level to be of any relevance to funding and operating a shared facility – though a well managed, inclusive, like-minded community can be more valuable to members than any architecturally designed facility could ever be.

A supportive tribe will help members run their businesses, start new ventures or stay involved in the workforce as the conditions and pre-requisites for work are changing around them – a facility without a community merely offers cheap rent.