The Emergence of a Community of Independent Workers

By Mark Dowds

Much conversation has started to arise around new workspaces and coworking environments that are popping up in cities all over the world. For some these new workspaces have been simply viewed as a different style of office where people hot desk and drop-in when they need a place to work. For many of us in the midst of this however it is much more a needed expression of our philosophy and beliefs about work and community.

Work in its basic form can be viewed as something someone does that brings them dignity while making a contribution to the world in which they live. In recent days there are many people who have been emotionally checking out as work has emerged as something you do to keep shareholders or bosses happy. The concept of passion, mission, and uniqueness of contribution has unfortunately for some corporations dropped off the radar or has become something low on the list of priorities. This is one of the reasons why many people today are considering venturing out on their own to discover how they can do great work while still having the option of having a choice into how they do what they do and who they surround themselves with.

As more people have gone independent and are working outside of the corporation another issue has arisen which is one of isolation and loneliness. It is not unusual for the independent worker to find themselves cooped up in their loft, basement, or bedroom only to long to another place to work outside of home. Many of the coffee shops have found themselves being the new daily residence for independent workers who sometimes buy a coffee and muffin to justify setting up shop with their laptop for the day. This has caused its own issues for some who need to be on the phone and away from noise or for some costly internet access that the coffee shop owner has no financial gain from. This is one of the reasons for the emergence of coworking facilities.

A coworking facility can be an office where someone has some additional space they need to rent out or it can be something that is uniquely designed with the independent or new start-up in mind. These new spaces typically try to bring a quieter space than the coffee shop with a good wireless signal. Some have additional services like phones, printers, and meeting rooms. The benefit of these places is that the independent worker not only gets a creative place to work when they need it but can also find themselves in conversations with folks of a similar mind and lifestyle. In my own experience of this great things happen when lots of people like this start hanging out together. Ideas and resources are shared and sometimes new adhoc groups are formed where various people work together to make each other a success. These small communities allow the independent worker to have more choice in their life while still having the option of trusted people to talk to and brainstorm with. At worst, there is still someone to chat with over lunch or coffee on a break.

So the term independent community may not be such a paradox after all, it may be simply a third way of working that suits the needs of those of us who like to live in hope of finding a more holistic lifestyle that brings dignity back to work in the midst of an engaged community.

Mark Dowds is the co-founder of

Coworking Guide

Coworking Press

11.0117 updated list coming soon >

09.1009 harvest: interview with betahaus - platform for crazy ideas

09.1001 entrepreneur: solo, but not alone

09.1001 get open space channel: need room to work?

09.0930 psfk: cubes are evil, changing the way we work

09.0929 npr: some coffee shops crack down on free wifi

09.0914 creative class: sharing space, sparking collaboration

09.0817 12 news: what is coworking?

09.0816 chicago trib: 'coworking’ sites to connect, collaborate

09.0731 az central: independent workers look to gangplank for support

09.0731 site point: is coworking right for you?

09.0730 indus business journal: jelly provides coworking choice

09.0729 la times: with wireless devices, telecommuters cut the cord

09.0729 outright entrepreneur blog: the pros and cons of coworking

09.0729 ktvk 3 tv: gangplank

09.0728 wsj: start-ups share space to shave costs in slump

09.0726 washington post: digital nomads choose their tribes

09.0721 laughing squid: coworking - orgins & future, featuring hat factory & parisoma

09.0709 pr newswire: local coworking venture wins $100,000 business plan competition

09.0709 observer: 15 million bailout plan for city's media & tech industry

09.0609 coworking project: what is coworking project by cowo

09.0505 mbo consulting blog: coworking - independent doesn't mean working alone

09.0226 gotham gazette: offering new businesses a place to grow

09.0217 reuters: coworking has wider appeal in recession

09.0215 baltimore sun: coworking - sharing office comforts, not job

09.0117 freelance-star: starbucks without noise

09.0115 freelance-star: if office at home has lost it's thrill, try coworking

08.1107 mashable: 7 reasons to start coworking

08.1014 cbs 4: sharing you office space

08.0908 chicago tribune: coworking sites cater to the lonely self-employed

08.0814 workforce: corporations picking up bill for coworking

08.0811 launchpad: fox news covers coworking

08.0619 denver business journal: a place to hang out

08.0530 time: finding freedom at work

08.0529 dangerously awesome: add equal parts business and culture, blend until smooth

08.0519 american public media: together, we can work solo

08.0424 freelance switch: coworking - the middle ground workspace

08.0411 psfk: a deeper look at coworking

08.0407 cnn: next phase of working at home - leaving home

08.0303 cs monitor: coworking - how to work solo, but not alone

08.0228 ny times: even solo workers want company

08.0221 intl herald tribune: coworking - a cooperative for the modern age

08.0220 ny times: they're working on their own, just side by side

08.0220 my sa: coworking catching on in san antonio

08.0219 sf gate: shared work spaces, a wave of the future

08.0213 notanmba: coworking as a catalyst

08.0124 cnn: nomads unite in coworking offices

08.0118 mother jones: practical values - works well with others

07.1102 7th floor: il coworking

07.1023 network world: coworking – the ultimate in teleworking flexibility

07.1019 center networks: what would a vc sponsored coworking location look like

07.1015 business week: enabling innovation through office design

07.1015 wsj: why silicon valley is rethinking the cubicle office

07.0810 boston globe: betahouse – a haven for web entrepreneurs

07.1002 examiner: shared offices growing in sf, peninsula

07.0801 psfk: coworking - a brighter 9 to 5

07.0720 wired: freelancers forgo office space for casual coworking

07.0603 ny times: plugged in at home, but somehow left out

07.0521 ny post: creating a wireless hub

07.0521 ny post: dealing in desks

07.0505 jessie x: coworking in columbia

07.0504 dangerously awesome: philadelphia jelly = cream cheese sessions?

07.0503 boston globe: offices are furnished, complete with friends

07.0401 nvestntech: the emergence of a community of independent workers

07.0311 sf gate: where neo-nomads’ ideas percolate

07.0309 denver business journal: the hive hopes to gather busy bees with new concept

07.0307 trend central: the new office space

07.0301 business bricks: coworking in..

07.0301 abc news: lonely freelancer seeks social office

07.0301 american prospect: coworkers of the world, unite

07.0227 boing boing: coworking facilities for social-hungry solo freelancers

06.1005 usa today: working out of a ‘third place’

06.0817 springwise: being space for mobile warriors

06.0227 business week: where the coffee shop meets the cubicle

06.0224 springwise: being spaces for writers and parents

05.1009 ny times: a cubicle for you and your muse

04.0607 ny times: where entrepreneurs go and the internet is free

03.0501 trend watching: being spaces

Coworking Space

10.0708 updated list coming soon >

1724 broadway

3rd ward

55 broad

88 spaces


affinity lab


alt space


austin indie

basement copenhagen



beehive baltimore

berkeley coworking


beta loft

biz express

bootstrap company


breakout festival


bright cowork

bunker studios

bureaux business lounge


business bricks

business playce


candy shop

canvas 1011


caroline collective

carrboro creative coworking

centre for social innovation

change you want to see

chapel studios


citizen agency

citizen desk

citizen space

club e factory

club e network

coach werks


code factory

coffee office

colab orlando


company dallas


coop - chicago coworking space




cowork central

cowork utah

coworking cologne

coworking fullerton

coworking institute

coworking ireland

coworking sws

creative space

creative space ontario

cubes and crayons


desk space

digital telepathy

e office


eco 32

electric works


factory joe

fast ashley's

fiber high



garage 30

giraffe labs

green desk

green spaces

greenwood collective

group 88


hat factory


hive cooperative


hub halifax


id345 space

idea field


ignition alley

impromptu studio

in good company

independents hall

indoor playground

jelly nyc

jonesboro coworking

katy dock

keane creative

l office

la cantine

la pillola 400

la banque


launchpad new orleans

lemon studios

less distracted

meet at the apartment


micro office

monolab workspace

more than an office

network hub

new work city

nomad work

nook share



office & company

office in media

office lab

office nomad

office one

office port

office space coworking

okc coco

old school

open commune

open space



people's office

pto de contato

queen street commons

reactor sf


sacramento coworking


sandbox suites

saturday house

sf grotto

share your office

shift workspace

silicon valley pad


social text

soco depot

soco hanoi

soco studio

soho desk space

soma office 1

soma office 2


start pad

station c

studio 4 stagioni

studio one

suite 133

suite space

sunshine suites

tech liminal

teh space

think tank



tides shared spaces

umbrella office


urban hive

village bellevue

village quill





workantile exchange



Coworking Space

It's a good-looking, café-like, creative space populated by other great people worth meeting. It is the perfect solution for new start-ups and independent innovators who are looking for a professional yet affordable way to scale their business.”

“A home away from home for the entrepreneur who needs an office space on occasion as well as a community center for collaboration. It helps to solve the problem of having a place to work when you are on the road or when you just want out of the house.”

“Take the best elements of a café (social, energetic, creative) and the best elements of a workspace (productive, functional) and combine them to give indie workers the chance to have their own, affordable space. A place where i can use the wifi, get a coffee or sandwich, meet other people who are working to build businesses, artistic collaboration or simply programming for a new startup.”

“It’s a mixer format enabling a ‘come when you can’ social gathering opportunity to create communication, cooperation and cohesiveness within the community, and a way to build rapport and relationship between creatives.”

“Fostering collaboration through mutli-disciplinary consortiums. Implementing numerous projects, revitalizing the neighborhood with networking events and other programs of value.”

“It’s the rise of the creative class and how it's transforming work, leisure, community and everyday life. Entrepreneurs who work together; sharing (when others are receptive) and respecting (when others ask for their space). Sounding utopian, the goal is to spawn new ideas and create a fertile environment for startups to migrate to more professional spaces for their corporate growth."

“I'm personally tired of working out of Starbucks / Borders (there aren't that many local wifi cafes), and executive suites around the valley are expensive and filled with suits! :) Besides, it's nice to share a productive work environment with other web developers, designers, writers, or other freelancers of all kinds."

“It’s a laboratory for creativity where artists are given time and space to experiment, collaborate and develop new work in a vibrant setting.”

“Creating a space open to contemporary art and cultural movements, to all, new and well known creators, to expose freely their works and thoughts, digital arts, painting, photography, sculpture, music."

Reserving Now . San Francisco

haight ashbury live-work

hat factory

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soma office 1

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soma office 2

soam 2 soma 3


Reserving Now . East Bay

hub: berkeley

Reserving Now . Phoenix

canvas 1011


co-op city

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