A guest article by Liz Elam, founder of LinkCoworking, and founding member of COSHARE:
This month, a group of coworking space owners from across the U.S. formed the first national Coworking association. They aptly named it - COSHARE.
What is COSHARE?
COSHARE is an association of spaces for people who share workspaces, to share ideas. They’re the first association in the US to focus primarily on the coworking movement; although they welcome anyone who believes they share space to share ideas. If you want to join and are an operator in the US, then they invite you to join.
It was time. The founders had repeatedly encountered strong interest for this association for a couple of years. They believed this exploding market needed a united entity to provide education, advocacy, community, support and collaboration. Putting a stake in the ground, they feel coworking is now uniquely positioned to support and promote this industry... and in some ways, protect it. For example, the big changes for GCUC to relocate and reschedule this increasingly popular, annual event were primarily due to a need for structural changes to maintain the event’s authenticity and representation of the coworking community. In other words, no different than coworking members themselves, Liz and the organizers in a sense needed to move out of their ‘home office’. Demand and timing prompted this call to action for a national collaboration.
What are the goals?
From an advocacy standpoint, any lobbying efforts that are determined (by vote) to be beneficial to all concerned will be address and we would offer to be the touch point for government when there is an interest in connecting to coworking spaces. We would like to help change the official spelling of coworking in the AP stylebook. We think it’s time to educate Google on the needs of Coworking spaces (how one business address can be claimed by 200 businesses on Google Places)Be the touch point for government when there is an interest in connecting to coworking spaces.
The coworking world has produced a lot of great content over the years and Coshare is excited to build on top of that with new surveys, workshops, and reports describing best practices for operating a shared space. The information will be easy to reference and edited to help shared space owners better operate their spaces based on the values of coworking while meeting their business goals.
The education portion of Coshare will not stay through digital and print but also happen with in-person workshops on national and regional level. Coshare also has ambitions of connecting veteran shared space owners with newcomers through a mentorship program. The sharing of knowledge and building networks will be an essential objective of Coshare and will be done in a variety of formats to make have a far reach and strong impact.
Communication, face to face communication at The Global Coworking Unconference Conference (GCUC). We believe that face to face communication and time together collaborating is important. We’re also looking to pay it forward and support non-profits that are advancing the core values of Coworking.
What does this say about the broader Coworking movement?
The coworking movement is not a trend, a fad, or something that will disappear in the next five years. It is a new way for people to connect, work, and think about the space they have. Coshare was created based on a need because the shared space industry is rapidly growing and will continue to do so. Coshare will help the coworking movement grow.