This blog post is part of a series about Coworking around North America & is sponsored by The Network Hub. To learn more about The Network Hub, visit www.thenetworkhub.ca.
Over the past few weeks, we have been taking a look at various Canadian work spaces that have embraced Coworking. These spaces allow freelancers the ability to work alongside other independent professionals in a casual space designed for work.
One of the longest running spaces in the Coworking movement, even before Coworking was a buzz word, is Canada's Queen Street Commons.
Located in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, the QSC fully embraces the idea of the Commons: “organized to serve the common good of its members. We come together to create the organizational power to obtain services in common that we could never afford on our own. We offer fellowship and community for those that work alone. We offer the opportunity to discover the value of interacting with others. We offer the opportunity to contribute to the common good.”
Like most other Coworking spaces, the QSC provides the basics required of a typical work environment: wireless Internet, a photocopier and fax machine, a board room and a kitchen. While these are things that can also be set up in one's home office, QSC sees its real value in providing what it calls 'Intangible Services'. Being a member of a coworking space allows one the ability to build and strengthen one's network with people who share common interests. This built in social network provides members with a shared pool of business resources, ideas, feedback, and camaraderie.
Robert Paterson, one of Queen Street Commons' co-founders, mentions being initially inspired by the Lloyds Coffee House: “Two hundred and fifty years ago, at the dawn of business, everyone worked at home. People found it convenient to spend the day in the close company of others who shared their common interests. One of the first venues was Lloyds Coffee House. Friends aggregated into booths and then into partnerships with each other. Those who wanted to do business with these “syndicates” wandered around the floor. From this simple beginning arose the world’s most effective insurance business.”
Another idea that Robert Paterson has blogged about in the past is the idea of connecting different Commons or coworking spaces around the world. This creates a global network of networks, simply by being a member of one Commons. This vision is starting to become a reality as more coworking spaces are joining the Coworking Visa program. This program allows the members of a participating coworking space to travel to another country and access that area's coworking space, and more importantly, that space's network of members.
These days, the Queen Street Commons is providing even greater value to the community by putting together a learning series that empowers small businesses and organizations by teaching them how to use the latest social media tools to communicate and connect to their audience.
Two hundred years ago, writers, philosophers, artists, and business people congregated in cafes and bars to connect and create the world we now know. It will be interesting to see what the next generation of innovators creates, as our tools for connecting online improve, and as more coworking spaces like the Queen Street Commons continue to connect people in the real world.