Denver is in a ‘coworking’ boom. It seems obvious as a new space or expansion is announced what seems to be every week. According to news reports, RiNo will have around 6 spaces, LoDo 4 or so, the 16th Street Mall will go from 0 to 4 or 5 in about twelve months, the Golden Triangle will rock 2, 1 in Capitol Hill, 1 in Uptown, and Stapleton might get 3. The new spaces are not small spaces either, but rather mammoths that range from 20,000 sq. ft to close to 100,000 sq. ft.
At this rate Denver will have more coworking spaces than pot dispensaries. I kidd, but really…
So does Denver really have 20+ coworking spaces? Not in my mind. We have around half a dozen coworking communities. It seems that there is the marketing term, noun and verb ‘coworking’. To me, coworking is something that you do with people by creating a community where people support each other and become friends with the intent of sharing ideas and laughs. It’s a community of people that happen to share a space (read coworking’s five values). Coworking is not just a space that individuals can share. It’s this difference that shrinks the number of spaces that market coworking from 20, to the 6 spaces that practice coworking.
Marketing: Coworking means we have a new workspace for individuals to teams. It probably has beer, some graffiti, and a TV. We’re cool, right?
Noun: Coworking is a place for people to sit at any desk available.
Verb: Coworking means working together with people with the intent to share ideas and get to know each other.
I understand why building developers and old executive suite brands are calling their spaces coworking, and it’s because they think coworking is just space and a trendy term to sell memberships. To them coworking is a checklist of chairs, desks, wifi, and possibly some free beer and a graffiti wall. It sounds easy when people think of it like that, doesn’t it?
Back in the mid-2000s coworking wasn’t dreamed up as a checklist of physical materials that could be purchased. Coworking was created as a cluster of relationships that could be concentrated because technology (wifi, laptops, online pharmacy tools) allowed us to leave homes or isolated private offices. Coworking is a reaction to human’s natural desire to connect and be helpful. It’s something you do with people, and having a permanent space to congregate makes it practical.
The Denver coworking boom is real. The office and other forms of shared office boom is also real. I just ask that the term coworking is used and recognized as more than a marketing term, utilized properly, and that everyone that uses the term truly works on creating a community. If all of the spaces that call themselves ‘coworking’ create a vibrant community, then our city, our neighbors, and our economy will be stronger and happier.