An open letter to coworking newcomers

Cat Johnson indie coworking

Hi there, newcomer, and welcome to coworking!

We are stoked to have you join this movement-slash-industry. And since you’re new around here, I thought I’d share some must-knows, helpful tips and perspectives to help you acclimate, participate and get as much as possible from this whole thing.

First things first, even though you’re new to coworking, and may have just discovered it recently, coworking has a rich history. It’s not a super long history, but it’s one that is packed with heart, soul, hard work and vision.

There’s some jostling about who opened the first coworking space and exactly when and where it all began. And there are two answers to this question.

The first is that humans have worked collaboratively for as long as we’ve been around, whether through hunting and gathering, raising barns, canning food, forming artist colonies and writing groups, making tamales in community, sharing tools, etc.

The second answer is that coworking really emerged as laptops and wifi became a thing. People realized they could work from anyplace they could get a strong signal, that working alone day after day sucked and that they could pop up some tables and chairs and work together instead of in isolation.

Voila, coworking!

Since then, coworking has gone from a super DIY, figure it out as we go thing to a booming industry with sky-high potential, figure it out as we go thing.

You may have noticed: the future of work is changing fast. Three years ago, we could not have imagined that the world would be working remotely, companies would be at a loss as to how to get employees back into the office (and whether they really wanted to do so) and people would be radically recalibrating how they want to create their days and lives.

Which brings us current.

And the whole world of work is looking to coworking to see how to do this space-meets-community-and-culture thing to keep people productive, engaged, happy and doing their best work.

And we’re all still figuring it out. In a recent interview for the Future of Work Podcast, I admitted to being out of my lane when it comes to creating engaged teams of remote workers. And industry veteran Frank Cottle reminded me that we’re all out of our lane right now.

So true.

But back to coworking.

The most important point I want to make is that you’re part of something amazing. You’re part of something transformative. You’re part of something visionary and grounded; something deeply human and future-forward.

All at the same time.

While life as a coworking newcomer, whether as a community manager, social media manager, sales pro, landlord, brand owner, operations lead, content marketer, whatever, may feel like just another job, I’m here to tell you that if you lean in, you will find something extraordinary.

Coworking changes lives. And I say that with deep conviction because coworking changed my life. Coworking enabled me to go from a side-gigging freelance writer with a full time job, to a full time freelance writer, to a business owner, to the founder of Coworking Convos, The Lab, Coworking Out Loud and more.

Coworking showed me that the only thing ever holding me back is my vision to think big and act mindfully, my willingness to ask for help and my courage to put myself out there.

Slowly, steadily, through the coworking communities and spaces I’ve called home, I’ve built a life of my own design, doing work aligned with my values and vision, in pursuit of something greater than myself.

That’s coworking.

That’s the industry you’re in.

Yes, you have desks and wifi and meeting rooms and offices and a great coffee machine. But what you’re really offering the world is connection, purpose, success, self-determination, collaboration, connection and belonging.

How does that resonate with you?

For some people, coworking will be just a job. And when another opportunity comes along, they’ll bounce. But those of us who have gone all-in on coworking have been changed by it. And in turn, we change our communities, neighborhoods, towns and maybe the world.

So don’t settle. Don’t play it small. Learn everything you can about coworking. There are fantastic resources to get you up to speed, loop you into the global coworking community, answer your questions, learn from you, support you and cheerlead for you.

Come on in and bring your whole self to your work and community. Be brave, be kind, be curious. Your members want to be part of something amazing. So lean in to them.

And remember, you don’t have to go it alone. Any question, challenge, win, frustration, celebration you have has been experienced by countless coworking pros around the world.

We’re here and we’re saving a seat for you.

Further together,