Coworking Spaces: Something Old Is Something New


Years ago, in Stamford, Connecticut, I was in an office share situation. It was wonderful, as I normally worked out of my home, and went to the shared office space on occasion to meet with clients. It did not have a transient feel to it, as it was decorated nicely, yet I was hardly ever there. Most of what we do in business is done over the phone, and now the internet. With the proliferation of wireless everything, our need to be in one place is waning. With medical needs growing, it is no wonder this is happening as much of the “office” real estate will likely be retooled for medical purposes. In Florida, there are strip malls that completely morphed into medical strip malls; this is the future.

From cars, to houses, to beds, to brothels, tents, clothes and ideas, the internet has connected us in ways we could have only dreamed of. Office sharing, however, is not new. Artists have often shared loft spaces in an effort to have a space in which to create, and on a very tight budget. Artists used these spaces to teach others as well, including an eclectic mix of professionals from varied industries. This took place during the 15th Century Renaissance in Italy.

The hallmark of this type of exchange, and sharing, was that it fostered an atmosphere of entrepreneurship. Whomever was at the center of this wheel of sharing ideas and art was referred to as a “Master.” This person might recognize talent, and mentor others, but they were never in a seat of judgment of the art being created. Ultimately these spaces were called workshops, and they were fertile ground for new ideas to garner interests from a larger audience.

There was much discussion in these workshops, and through talking about most everything, conflicts were worked-through, and subsequent collaborations did effectively merge the value of art with the practicality of science. An engineer might stand next to a doctor in a creative venture, which is quite the opposite of our corporate cultures of today.
There was a fabric of varied professionals coming together in Renaissance workshops, and they were trying some new things and even perhaps finding that those efforts would eventually lead to business opportunities. There is a lot to learn from the working model of these shops-of-creativity of 5 centuries ago, and mainly about how varied professionals sharing in a single mission could well create something great, or at least this possibility exists when collaboration is the hallmark of combined efforts.