What is a Coworking Space?

The first time I saw one, I was intrigued, and inspired and became a believer.

The Shift 2

There were people working independently at their desks, groups working together in clusters or on a marker board, people standing and talking with each other, and others eating lunch or taking a break. All in one room. All of whom it was somehow clear did not work for the same company, or perhaps even in the same industry.

I watched, and could feel the energy in the room, as if the creativity and collaboration occurring was a tangible thing that I could touch, and if so, wanted to absorb and be a part of.

I had seen a coworking space, and it changed my life so much that 1 year later, I started my own.

The Shift, located in Uptown, Chicago.

The Shift, located in Uptown, Chicago.

As someone who had spent years in traditional office environments, I was used to cubicles and seating arrangements by departments, working with lowered heads and hushed voices.

Conversely, I had recently transitioned to outside sales and consulting, and had quickly become a cafe-hopper, settling for a crowded table, hunting for an outlet, and killing my back on uncomfortable chairs. Or worse, making calls and writing emails from my car.

Both environments had left me feeling isolated, working hard but alone, and confined to my own industry associates.

The core concept of coworking is simple: its a style of work, where independent activity is performed in a shared environment.

Isnt that a cafe?

No, and that’s the beautiful part of a coworking space, it’s so much more than just sharing a physical space. It’s the magic that happens when people of varying professional backgrounds, each with their own knowledge, experience, and networks, come together.

People start to talk, as humans inevitably do, and people start to learn from each other, help each other, and many of them trade professional services, contacts, or better yet, collaborate.

So how do I start coworking?

First, write down your individual needs for a work environment. Then, read this extremely helpful article “How to Pick the Right Coworking Space For You” written by Jamie Russo, founder of Enerspace Coworking, and an industry expert on the topic.

Then, just like we do for almost everything else:

– Perform a Google search, or

– Ask someone who works out of a coworking space

You can also conveniently search coworking space listings on sites like DeskTime where you can view photos of the space, send an inquiry, or request a booking, all in one place.

I recommend everyone visits a coworking space (most of them provide free, and regularly scheduled tours), and furthermore, try one that looks like it could work for you. At the very least you’ll enjoy a change of scenery, and they’re usually really cool looking too.

Written by guest blogger:
Nicole Vasquez, MBA, is the Founder and President of
The Shift, A Local Coworking and Community Space in the Uptown neighborhood of Chicago. For more information please visit http://www.TheShiftChicago.com, or, contact her directly at: info@theshiftchicago.com

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Filed under Coworking, Small Business

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