Joe Urban | Sam Newberg, Urbanist

Office Nomads and Coworking – The Future of Urban Offices

Dateline: 3:28 pm February 3, 2010 Filed under:

I have seen the future and it is coworking! I just got back from Seattle, and besides enjoying some typical midwinter rain and riding their shiny new light rail from Sea-Tac airport, I checked out an office concept that may serve as a future model in many urban areas.

This particular space, called Office Nomads, occupies the top floor of a renovated two-story building in the trendy Capitol Hill neighborhood of Seattle. My friend Bart is one of more than 50 “nomads” that rent a space at Office Nomads.

The basic idea of coworking seems to be quite simple – a place for people to work as an alternative to a regular corporate or home office. The amenities of most coworking offices are communal printing, copying, wi-fi, kitchen and meeting spaces. Rent a desk for a month for $250 to $500 per month, or drop in for the day for something north of $25.

Coworking spaces vary from place to place. Office Nomads, whose slogan is “individuality without isolation,” focuses on a friendly communal space in which to work. Most members use desks in the open front area. A couple days a week at the Coop in Chicago, members eat lunch together family-style. Nextwork in Grand Rapids adds fitness options for members. Coco in St. Paul, for example, offers private offices for rent for $750 a month. Of course the urban mecca of Portland, Oregon has coworking. There, Souk offers “hot desks.”

Bart tells me his “coworkers” at Office Nomads are web developers, entrepreneurs, writers, programmers, students, journalists, graphic designers or employees of a corporate satellite office, from their 20s to 50s. You can keep to yourself or mingle, but it can be a great place to get work done. Some call it a third place. But really it is a second place, or maybe version 2.1. Whatever coworking is, I’d say this is a model that is only going to grow in the future.

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