The Candy Factory theme for 2016 is Connections.
Why? Because Coworking is about Building Connections and for some it’s about finding a tribe. For many of us, coworking connects us to friends, offers opportunity for collaboration and gives us a much needed professional support system.
The goal of this regular blog post is to reflect on coworking and how it’s changed my life, both personally and professionally. While the focus will be the power of coworking and trends in the workplace, I will also be writing about the power of connections and what that means to us all. I hope these posts are helpful to those interested in starting a coworking space, members, founding members of spaces and for those interested in joining a coworking space or exploring their passions. Thank you for reading and for coming along for the ride.
Passion For Coworking
A while ago I was asked by a friend why I take coworking so personally. I knew what I wanted to say (I’m never short for words) but I decided to take my time and really mull this question over. Why, out of all the projects I’ve worked on, did this one consume me? Why do I believe so strongly in the coworking mission and manifesto? I started to reflect on my own personal story and how that shaped me as a person and as a member of the coworking community both in Lancaster and beyond. I decided to write a small part of that story, and I hope it helps answer the above question while also giving you a little insight into the power of coworking in its truest form.
Over five and a half years ago I was sitting with a group of friends in my living room explaining coworking and why Lancaster needed to embrace this idea. I remember getting emotional while asking for feedback from my family and friends, even getting somewhat frustrated at the well-intentioned criticism of the idea. Everyone in that room understood that I was determined to make coworking in Lancaster a reality with or without anyone’s approval. Call me stubborn (which I am and will take as a compliment) but I saw a need for this while working on The Creative House of Lancaster, a community of creatives. I truly believed the time was right and fortunate for me others saw the need and were willing to step up and support this crazy idea. The Candy Factory was born. That was the Summer of 2010, forward 5+ years and this crazy idea has now blossomed into an extraordinary mix of people from all different disciplines and backgrounds. It’s not been an easy road, building issues and bad landlords made our first 4 years extra difficult. But the community was strong, determined and willing to give and not just take. When we knew our time at our old location was coming to an end, we had to make some important decisions. With the help of the community we decided to secure and build out our current home. Thanks to that vision and support we continue to grow.
People see our growth and assume it was easy. We followed a plan and it provided a positive result. I don’t see our path that way at all. While coworking is wonderful, it was a long and sometimes hard slog to get where we are. It was not something crafted by real estate developers and or a business created just to generate a profit by repackaging office space. It wasn’t just a way to offset our office costs or dominate an industry.
Coworking is not a well-oiled machine as spaces like WeWork would like you to think. Nothing against the big corporate spaces, they serve their purpose, but what makes our version of coworking extra special is the imperfections, the spaces forged out of real need, those strapped for cash but figuring it out, those spaces that understand they need their members to survive, that the community is not just replaceable revenue.
(Question you should ask yourself – When you don’t have to work for something or contribute in any way, does your level of interest or engagement change?)
This is not orchestrated coworking, this is what I like to call real life coworking. Personalities and passions mix to make an exciting and interesting work environment and even more interesting lunch chats. We’re not all funded startups, here today and forgotten tomorrow. We’re the small business working to grow; we’re the freelancer pounding the pavement; we’re the parents juggling work and life. We’re the dreamers, the visionaries, and while we work hard we enjoy it, we thrive off it, we make coworking what it should be—real life not manufactured. We engage, we listen, we care. Why am I so passionate, and why do I take coworking so personally? Because it’s my drug: believe it or not watching people connect, interact and grow both personally and professionally is addictive and I LOVE it. I have no doubt there are some people who will never understand this kind of passion. I also understand that there are coworking spaces out there driven by other agendas. But why does the Candy Factory community keep pushing this concept forward in Lancaster despite numerous obstacles? Because they, like me, have found their home away from home, they too have fallen in love. Welcome.
Along with our regular posts on this topic we’re excited to announce the beginning of LIVE at The Candy Factory! A live YouTube show about coworking and other fun stuff. Tune in HERE on January 29th at 11:30AM.