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What is an indie coworking space?


In the last month, I’ve had three people ask me what an indie coworking space is, and if they are one.

So it’s time to clarify.

What is an indie coworking space?

The word “indie” for me brings to mind the indie rock movement of the ’90s, where bands were pushing boundaries and committed to furthering other indie bands, labels and the movement. People were collaborating, creating and giving birth to something new and exciting. It was the opposite of top-heavy labels that use and abuse artists and audiences to squeeze every dollar possible out of them. There was a do-it-together ethos that ran through the music and culture.

Much like indie coworking.

Indie spaces are aware that they are part of something much bigger than themselves, and much more interesting than office rental. They are home to entrepreneurs, startups, solopreneurs, creatives, remote workers and teams. Indie coworking space operators are re-envisioning the future of work—and working.

Indie coworking spaces tend to be small-to-midsize brands, but being an indie is a mindset that transcends size.

In the ’90s, there were plenty of small indie bands, but there were huge indie bands as well—bands that brought the indie movement to global audiences and opened the doors for many other bands.

Remember Pavement, Nirvana, The Breeders, Smashing Pumpkins, The Flaming Lips, 4 Non Blondes, Modest Mouse? These bands smashed through to worldwide pop acclaim … and brought countless lesser-known-but-equally-impactful indie bands with them.

And as with the music analogy, much of being an indie coworking space is the mindset you have around your members, your culture, the future of work and local engagement.

There are workspace brands that have scaled to dozens (or hundreds) of locations that still take an indie approach to coworking. There are other brands (small and scaled) that are top-down, tightly controlled and not-at-all indie.

So what does being an indie really mean?

Here’s my working definition of indie coworking space:

An indie coworking space is a human-first workspace community and local hub. Indie spaces have the autonomy and flexibility to create, collaborate and connect with the global coworking community, as well as local spaces, partners and neighbors. Indie spaces have a service mindset, a distinct voice and culture and the freedom to offer content and programming that reflects the local community’s needs and values. Indie spaces are powered by engaged community managers, members and supporters, and are focused on growing a healthy business as well as local impact and economic development.

Do you resonate with this definition?

Anything I should add or clarify?

Message me on LinkedIn and let me know.

Further together,

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