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What Is Co-Working?

By Jean Spencer

You might have heard the term “co-working” floating around Squamish in the last couple of years, especially with the recent openings of Aligned Collective and The Common, two new coworking spaces available in Squamish.

But what exactly is co-working?

Coworking is the concept of shared professional workspace. Coworking spaces highly value collaboration, and often include open floor plans and shared desks. It’s great for people who need work space, but would rather not sign (or pay for) a binding year-long lease, and here’s why:

Instead of leasing individual office space, “coworkers” purchase monthly memberships, effectively paying a fraction of the cost.

Coworking is not unlike a gym membership. It’s like a gym membership for the brain. Fitness fanatics pay a small monthly fee to use gym equipment. They get to drop in at anytime and use facilities with an understanding that the whole gym is always shared will other community members interested in their health. Coworkers pay a monthly fee at a fraction of the cost of a bigger private space, in return for a shared use of all the space and its resources.

Instead of dumbbells and treadmills, at Aligned Collective we share:

  • free coffee
  • printing
  • a boardroom
  • desks
  • monitors
  • comfy chairs
  • five-star views of The Chief and Mount Garibaldi

We also share ideas, community, climbing and bike rides (learn more!).

Who Uses Coworking Spaces?

Coworking space often attract small business owners, sole-proprietors, consultants, and remote workers. People who could work from home or from a cafe, but who maybe crave a more professional setting to focus down. Maybe it’s parents who need a break from their kids every once in a while, or folks who work from Vancouver some days, and from a home office on other days. Maybe it’s folks needing a get-away space to avoid the shaming of unwashed laundry.

It’s becoming increasingly popular and standard. Between 2006 and 2015, the number of coworking spaces and available seats have nearly doubled each year. In 2007 there were only 14 coworking spaces on Earth. Now, 10 years later, there are more than 11,000, with an additional 15,000 establishments are forecasted to open doors by 2020.

At Aligned Collective, we are home to environmental strategists, marketers, graphic designers, urban planners, building developers and we are growing like crazy (read about who’s in the space currently here).

We have many people who work weird hours. For a town known for its outdoor play, coworking spaces work really well for professionals who want to play during the day, but still need to get stuff done.

For many folks, 5pm is when the work day starts.

Regardless of the time of day, or the particular coworking space you’re looking into, a key benefit of all coworking spaces is that they foster meaningful connections and collaborations between creative people. Coworkers tend to enjoy talking with others; they want to shared ideas, and stimulate innovation. Unlike in cafes where most conversations end up being social conversations, coworking spaces encourage people to show up wearing a professional hat, which leads to different outcomes and new working relationships. This helps grow local, connected economies.

Far from “stuffy and boring” like traditional office spaces, coworking spaces are a unique blend of social people looking to be productive.

At Aligned Collective, our open floor plan allows people to spontaneously “bump into one another,” a collaboration technique known for sparking conversation, used by major companies—including Pixar—to spur creativity.

“Pixar designed its headquarters in California with all the bathrooms in the center of the building, and all the food and coffee in the center in an atrium. They were very intentional about wanting people who are artists and animators, and the coders, and the music people, and the screen writers to be constantly bumping into each other in random ways to spark ideas.” Benjamin Jones, a strategy professor at the Kellogg School said in a 2017 business article on collaboration.

What’s Aligned Collective Like?

Instead of us telling you what working at Aligned Collective is like, let’s see what people have said about Aligned Collective on Facebook.

a facebook review of aligned collective that highlights the cleanliness

A collection of Facebook reviews of Aligned Collective from early 2018. 

Collaboration and cheap rent aren’t the only reasons coworking is taking off.

Of course, many home offices in Squamish are also be equipped with the basic standards of an office.

There is something special—and enlivening—about showing up to a space where professional hats are the norm. Productivity increases, social hour talk decreases, and the ability to get meaningful work done seems to magically be easier.

Jean Spencer is an Aligned Collective Board Member, professional digital marketer, and copywriter.


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