Distributed Coworking

January 6th, 2011
[ Guelph Tech ]

I realized last night as I pitched this idea once again that I’ve been pitching it privately for years but never in public. This is completely made this up so I have no idea if it’s practical and could be pulled off. So part of posting this is to seek out examples of anything similar we can learn from.

The inspiration for this idea came from various places:

  • Thinking about what we truly need here in Guelph. That got me thinking about how our local music scene works. It’s highly incestuous, distributed and clearly bootstrapped. They share spaces, instruments, bands, project, musicians, etc.
  • Thinking about why a business would get involved and participate in coworking. What does a business need and how could coworking deliver real value to it.

One issue most businesses, especially small, struggle with is what size of space to have. Most don’t have the capital to have larger spaces they can grow into. On the other side, taking just the right sized space can put you into an endless cycle of relocating, which is itself expensive and distracting.

What if you built a distributed coworking network? Or has anyone already built it? The benefit to a business being they can subsidize their office space by making some of it available for coworking. In doing so, they’re paid $x per square foot or $x per desk. Now as a business you can move into a larger space, knowing you can keep the costs down while having space to grow into when you need it.

On the coworking side, you now have individuals handling the non-trivial community work of cross pollination. You could have an individual literally working out of the offices of many different companies each week. As well, some spaces are more suited to particular tasks than others, so you may want to use Brainpark‘s boardroom today but well.ca‘s next week. Or maybe one boardroom isn’t available at the time you need but another is.

As well, in my opinion coworking works best when a space has a core tenant. It brings stability as you know people will be there working everyday. In this scenario, each space clearly has a core tenant.

Ideas? Thoughts? Feedback? Has this been attempted anywhere before?