Big +1 to Robert's suggestion to try it yourself. Not enough researchers actually get their butts into the communities they want to know more about.
It's a little like riding a bike - you can't really know what it's like from reading about it or watching movies. You have to move the pedals yourself to feel why it's different from walking down the exact same road or path.
With that said, two thoughts for you:
1 - coworking is a verb. People can do it anywhere by intentionally choosing to be in a place with other people that are there for the same reasons. I Indy Hall a decade ago by saying "hey, I'm going to be at this cafe from this time on this day. Anybody wanna work with me?" There wasn't much explicit collaboration but there was a context of knowing that we chose to be there together that was fundamentally different from being total strangers in a room, side by side on laptops. A context where we might casually chat about something in our day, or share a win or frustration. It's easy to underestimate or take for granted the small interactions that we get from coworkers and colleagues throughout the day that go missing when you are alone. Even without an explicit need for collaboration (which in my experience is step 10) or even actively talking to anybody, having people who you know and trust, and who are in motion, is a powerful social force and motivational tool.
That context is what we always seek to create, experience wise. Libraries are like cafes in that they have people, but they lack the context. Most people go there specifically for isolation. People seek coworking for the opposite reason.
2 - remember that in this model, coworking spaces aren't necessary, though they are valuable. Our members don't just pay for a place to go, they pay for the context. And once you've built that community, it turns out that context is portable! For one example, our members have started an "Indy Hall to Go" channel in our Slack where they are organizing outings to cowork from favorite cafes, museums, etc. Another example is how often members attend events and social gatherings outside of our space together. A common mistake in Coworking messaging is subtly saying "everything happens here" which makes people think that the only way to participate in the community is to go to the space.
And again, don't get me wrong, space is useful. But it's a hammer. It's easy to swap spaces for marginal benefits. But the thing that makes people STICK is being a part of something.
I wrote a bit more about this stuff to answer the same basic question but about cafes instead of libraries. Check it out! https://dangerouslyawesome.com/2014/10/why-do-some-freelancers-work-out-of-cafes-vs-coworking-spaces-and-vice-versa/
On Apr 13, 2017, 6:48 AM -0400, Robert Kropp <[email protected]>, wrote:
For someone just getting introduced to coworking, I would just start working / sitting in one for a little while. There are many subtleties to each place that are not always obvious from the outside. There are many traditional benefits but the true power and success of the coworking space is the culture created through the community of people. Become part of the community and you will definitely find the participation you need. You will also be able to experience the best things about a coworking space and how people work out of them.
Hope this is helpful.
On Wednesday, April 12, 2017 at 8:19:38 PM UTC-4, Christopher Gallagher wrote:
> Hello All,
> My name is Christopher, and I'm in a PhD program that researches Organizational Psycholgy, which for us is basically the breadth of work issues. We're interested in the changing nature of work, and I have plenty of questions about how coworking spaces function.
> I've learned a lot reading the deskmag surveys, but these are hints about possible psychology projects, rather than firm information.
> I would love to use as many active co-workers as participants (there would be a potential reward for participation), but for now I just have some basic questions.
> If I don't need to collaborate with anyone in particular, why wouldn't I go to work from a library?
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