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Coworking Movement Grows as Steve Case Invests
By Christine Durst & Michael Haaren
March 29, 2012
The coworking trend just got a big push with an investment from AOL
founder Steve Case. But first, the backstory. What is this brave new
way of working, and why should we care?
THE FABLED “THIRD PLACE”
Ever since the Almighty created home offices and Dilbert cubes,
millions of people, including a growing torrent of “road
warriors,” have wanted a “third place” to work in.
If you work from home exclusively, you probably know how isolating and
boring it can sometimes be. You yearn for a “species fix,”
the stimulation of live conversation, the milk of human
If you commute to a cube, you yearn for variety, too, in setting and
neighbors. And if you can shorten your freeway time in the bargain, so
much the better.
If you’re a road warrior, you want a place to set down the
laptop, boot up, and give your dogs a rest. If you can eliminate the
noise of coffee grinders, steam spouts and shouted latte orders, and
loud music overhead, it’s a huge plus.
Coworking centers – over 1,100 of them now around the globe,
according to coworking magazine Deskmag – sprouted up to meet
these needs. From Pittsburgh to Prague, and Memphis to Manila, you can
find a congenial place to work for the day, week or month, perhaps with
a café and even daycare, too, alongside someone just like
RENT-YOUR-BEDROOM MEETS RENT-YOUR-CUBE
Paralleling the growth of coworking has been a trend called
“collaborative consumption.” If you have a spare bedroom or
sleep sofa, you can rent it out to a passing guest (Airbnb.com). Got extra driveway space or a bay in the garage? You can rent that out, too (Parkatmyhouse.com).
Now enter Loosecubes (Loosecubes.com),
the startup that Steve Case has invested in. If a company has cubes or
desks sitting empty, it can sign up at Loosecubes and rent them out to
road warriors, work-at-homers, etc. Loosecubes already reports listings
in “660 cities and 73 countries.” With venture funding
behind the site, those numbers are sure to grow.
In the bigger picture, according to Deskmag and Businessweek, some 60%
of office space is a “dead zone.” According to research
firm IDC, there will be 120 million mobile workers in the U.S. by the
end of next year. Those two statistics alone can spell tremendous
change for sectors ranging from commercial real estate to highways to
automobiles to “casual dining” (Starbucks,
“WORK” AN ACTIVITY, NOT A PLACE
The growth of coworking, telework and the mobile workforce –
spurred on by iPads, WiFi in cars, Skype, and a host of other
communications developments – is rapidly detaching
“work” from any particular place. Increasingly, it’s
simply an activity that can be done from anywhere.
The man in the grey flannel suit, leaving his 1950s suburban front door
and saying “I’m off to work, honey!” as he heads for
a day at “the office,” is a wispy ghost now, barely
remembered. He’s been replaced by a twentysomething in jeans and
a tee shirt and a new tattoo, with a tablet in one hand and a coffee
cup in the other, looking for a spare cube, a spare couch, a spare
driveway, or all three.
Christine Durst and Michael Haaren are leaders in the work-at-home
movement and advocates of de-rat-raced living. Their latest book
is Work at Home Now,
a guide to finding home-based jobs. They offer additional guidance on
finding home-based work at www.RatRaceRebellion.com. To read features
by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators
Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.
COPYRIGHT 2012 BY STAFFCENTRIX, DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM