A coworking community is more than just office space

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

These have been convened by Maroondah, Knox and Yarra Ranges councils, engaging community-led groups including hackers, makers and local businesses.

Each of these discussions followed a similar theme, dealing with workspaces and included services, 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.

A new way of working

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 governments can best support their ratepayers who are transitioning from the industrial-age way of working – which is hierarchical and tied to place and/or employer – into the new paradigm of work which is independent, collaborative and ‘me-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 the early adopters are reinventing the way they provide an income for themselves, creating their own niche professions and role titles.

Seeking a Coworking Community

Many of these early adopters are actively searching for other new-work 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 (an unfortunate reality in the hills) and limited facilities can all play their part in the motivation to seek an external office – though they are not the most important factors!

More than just the desk

We can talk about shared offices, memberships and hot-desking till the end of time, though what will really enable the future of work in our region and help to meet the needs of workers is more discussion around professional connectedness.

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

A supportive coworking community will help members start and run their businesses and stay involved in the workforce as the conditions and pre-requisites for meaningful work in our society are changing around them.

A nicely built office without a community merely offers cheaper rent.