Independents Hall

The now international Coworking movement has its origins in coffee shops and wifi hotspots, where people go to work away from work, so to speak, as it were.

In an article about the newly opened Coworking venue Independents Hall ("Independents Hall," get it? Not Independence, but Independents! In Philadelphia itself, see. Gotta love it.), the Philadelphia Inquirer reporter, Jane M. Von Bergen, has one of the best descriptions of the concept I've read so far: "Think of co-working as an entrepreneurial version of parallel play," she writes, "with owners of their own small businesses working side by side in a drop-in place that looks like a coffee cafe, minus the barista, with all the accoutrements of what's hip: high ceilings, beer fridge, pool table and Internet access." Parallel play, in deed!

She quotes Daniel H. Pink, author of Free Agent Nation:
"I think when people work at home they have to come up with new ways to interact with people...They miss one of the joys and banes of being in an office - the interruptions, the inadvertent contact on the way to the bathroom that sometimes leads to interesting ideas...Co-working gives a set of colleagues who will interrupt them on the way to the bathroom."
Alex Hillman, developer and organizer of Independents Hall, also has a quoteworthy line describing his life before he initiated this Coworking endeavor, after he left his job as a web designer: "Three months working at my house, I was talking to the cat, and I don't even have a cat. I was going crazy without the socializing."

In corresponding with Alex about the establishment of his brilliantly-named Independents Hall, he comments: "The one thing that...Jane missed out on is that we built the community FIRST. Nine months of meetup events and grass roots outreach were done before we thought about signing a lease. That community drives this organization, and that is the key to our success so far. I don't want anyone to think we sprung up overnight (ok, 6-9 months IS pretty fast) BUT, I'm also not solely responsible for it. Everyone has contributed, by becoming a street-team for the concept of bringing coworking to Philadelphia."

Yes, in deed, community is key to coworking.

I highly recommend these kinds of coworking initiatives, and have written about their virtues extensively in my Coworking Visions column.

To get a better understanding of what a Coworking facility is all about, take a look at Alex's video tour of Independents Hall.

from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith


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