Cowork Rochester

What Will Coworking Provide Rochester?

Posted in coworking, facilities by Erik on April 22, 2010

A recent WORK.LIFE column by Liz Kofman and Astri von Arbin Ahlander on True/Slant got into some of the unclear particulars of coworking. This made me think it’s time to focus the conversation of what coworking in Rochester, MN would look like because it does differ from place to place and to serve the community it should come from this community.

I would like to see coworking in Rochester provide:

  1. A space that is fiscally sustainable.
  2. A community for creative and technical people.
  3. An office location where independents, telecommuters and virtual firms can share resources.
  4. A venue where local user groups could congregate for monthly meetings.
  5. A casual work environment.
  6. An off-site meeting location for local businesses.

What would you like to see?


Who’s Your Worst Critic?

Posted in coworking by Erik on April 6, 2010

Web Worker Daily hits the nail on the head again. Their most recent article covers one of the most difficult parts of working independently for long periods of time – lack of validation. We often become our own worst critics.

Working from home often means not having someone right there with us to validate decisions or keep us and our business pointed in the right direction. We have to keep going, doing things while being confident from within ourselves that we are on the right path. That confidence, I’m finding, can be difficult to maintain when you work in a home office surrounded by reminders of your personal insecurities.

While not all individuals will trend to being overly self critical, the reality check of having interaction with others also assists in keeping us from thinking too much of ourselves or worse, our ideas. Nothing refines an elevator pitch or streamlines explaining what you do like actually saying it out loud to other real humans.

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8 Reasons to Consider Coworking

Posted in coworking, news coverage by Erik on March 27, 2010

Inc. has a new article, 8 reasons why you should consider coworking which is worth a quick read. Of note, Inc. is entirely virtual (since last month according to the article) and is leveraging coworking to keep their business going.

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Looking at Self Employment

Posted in coworking by Erik on March 22, 2010

There was an interesting discussion regarding self-employment that I felt was worth repeating on this blog. The thread touches on some of the pros and cons of hanging out your own shingle. My experience of Rochester, especially in the knowledge and web-worker realm, has been that folks are generally engaged in a more traditional employer – employee relationship. Entrepreneurial explorations appear to be “side” projects, not the primary focus. I’ve also noticed that the term self-employment has been used more heavily in the domain of creatives (artists, writers and photographers) and cottage industry. So at the risk of motivating the cube dwellers of Rochester towards independence, read on.

Something that really rang true for me was in Alex’s response, “if you’re independent and not collaborating, you’re likely to fail.” I think this applies to any discipline whether your self employed or not. Of course I believe the best way to work together independently is through coworking. If you are working independently, coworking should be important to you. If your working in a more traditional employer – employee role, coworking should be important to you. Both benefit from coworking and networking with peers, if for no other reason than to get a reality-check. By sharing ideas openly, others can help you focus them, extend your ideas into realms you may not have considered and help you find the true gem that is what you offer.

Carolina Basalo offered up insight into some pros and cons of going solo and Alex Hillman of Indy Hall (IN) chimed in with some responses. The following excerpts from the thread are shared here by permission of the authors.

Carolina: Pro: Independence. You do what you want, when you want. No-one else can screw up your hard work, and you don’t need to depend on anyone but yourself. Your days of being told what to do are over. And there’s no dress code, either!

Con: No Security. With independence, though, comes responsibility. There’s nobody to carry you if you do badly one day – if you don’t make any money for the business, then you don’t get paid. People like certainty in their lives (that’s why they spend big bucks on insurance) – it can be hard to live with this ultimate step into performance-related pay. You might find yourself quickly wishing you had a regular paycheck again.

Alex: Working from home and calling your own shots aren’t necessarily the same  thing. The most effective freelancers I’ve met are the ones that collaborate… and hard. They may be their own boss, but they still support a team.

I also don’t believe that having a full time job means security, nor does being independent mean a lack of security. My approach over the last year has been to break my cost of living down into smaller chunks, and find more sustainable ways to support those individual living needs. Client work isn’t the only path to income, and when you can get out of that headspace, your world opens up.”

Carolina: Pro: Flexible Working. You decide your hours. If you want to take Wednesday off and work Saturday instead, then no-one’s stopping you. If you’d like to get up early and cram all your work into the mornings so you can have the afternoons off, then hey, you’re the boss. Such flexibility can be a massive relief after years of working nine to five.

Con: Work Never Ends. When you work from home, it can be tempting to be constantly monitoring things, even when you’ve decided you’re not working. The only person who can handle a crisis is you – and crises have a tendency to happen in the middle of the night, or on your day off.

Alex: I think this is something that coworking combats, and one of my primary reasons to start coworking. More often than not, my laptop stays at the office now. I choose when I leave the office and when I come in, if at all. But I’ve finally broken the habit of “finding work to do” when I should be balancing my life.

Also, learning to delegate to other collaborators… who aren’t necessarily your boss… can save your sanity.

Carolina: Pro: Keeping All the Money. Everything you earn is yours to keep. It can be truly disheartening to work somewhere where cash is being handled, and realising that the takings for the day add up to a hundred times more than you got paid. You know that someone’s getting rich off your back, but it’s not you – working from home makes you the fatcat at the top.

Con: Doing Everything. Not all that money was profit, you know. It goes on things like marketing, management, stock control, deliveries, and so on. Suddenly you have to manage everything that goes on in your business – you deal with suppliers on one end and customers on the other, you have to do all the budgeting and spending, and you become your own marketing department. You get to deal with all the fun tax issues, too.

Alex: You’re presupposition is that you’re working in solitude, with no team or collaborators. I firmly believe that if you’re independent and not collaborating, you’re likely to fail.

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Incubator Style Coworking Space

Posted in coworking, facilities, shared office by Erik on March 17, 2010

WebWorkerDaily toured CoLab, an Orlando, FL coworking space and posted insight into how coworking is working in a larger city. The space is primarily being used as an incubator style / shared office configuration instead of a solo-worker destination.

The coworking common area at CoLab is definitely underutilized. It was virtually deserted on the Monday afternoon that I visited, although I was told a few members use it on a regular basis. This is likely because CoLab’s suites are so affordable that they are packed to the rafters with small businesses.

Another reason for the lack of utilization may be due to the variety of options available to solo workers in Orlando.  In some locations where there is an existing culture of web-based entrepreneurs a larger number of startups an incubator style startup may work. In fact, this is a major benefit to any bio-technology firm considering involvement in the Pine Island Elk Run Biotech Park or even the Minnesota BioBusiness Center. However, for internet professionals, the demand for this type of space doesn’t appear to be there and downtown would be better served by a more traditional open coworking facility.

Coworking Coming to St. Cloud

Posted in coworking, minnesota startup by Erik on March 9, 2010

St. Cloud, MN is ready to get their own coworking facility up and running. They’re looking for a location and checking out the 3rd Place and CoCo sites in St. Paul, MN.

Congratulations to our fellow coworkers and coworking advocates in St. Cloud!

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Coworking vs. The Home Office

Posted in Uncategorized by Erik on February 28, 2010

Interesting insight into the benefits of a coworking space vs a home office.

It’s more than just renting a desk. It’s a destination and a place that helps provide some work/life separation in a very compelling way.

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Shared Office vs. Co-working

Posted in coworking, shared office by Erik on February 16, 2010

A quick search of the Rochester Craigslist returns a slew available office leases. One seeking a medical related occupant for only $225/month; others looking to rent out large business presences. Shared offices are a great way to save money while having a dedicated work location. Here in Rochester, the most commercialized option is the Rochester Executive Suites on 19th NW. Formal shared office plans like this start at $500/month compared with typical co-working plans that are in the $300-$400 range in most cities. Co-working opportunities and shared office space are similar but not the same.

This chart highlights some of the differences:

Amenity Shared Office Co-working
Typical Costs $500/mo $300/mo
Conference Room
Free Coffee
High-speed Internet
Desk & Chair
Room to Expand
24×7 Access
Unique Environment
Beige Business Environment
1 Year Lease
Shared Copier / Fax Machine
Administrative Support
Shared Telephone System

This is hardly exhaustive. Please leave your thoughts on the differences between co-working an shared office locations in the comments below.