A new coworks has opened on the island. Whidbey may be known as a vacation spot with tourist towns, but people work here, too. Coworks aren’t new to the island. There’s a history of various incarnations of them (including one dedicated to writers). As of March 1st, WicoWorks (capitalization subject to change: WIcoworks, WICoworks, WICoWorks, WICOWORKS, whatever), a new coworks opened in Clinton at the top of the hill from the ferry with light bouncing into the room from the sun shining on the Sound – weather permitting. There’s more than one way to work on the island.
Yes, Whidbey is a vacation spot, but thousands of full-time residents are full-time employees. The luckiest get to work on the island. Many commute to Seattle, Everett, and around the region. Many jobs no longer require a commute. The growing Gig Economy is powered by people who can work wherever there’s a wi-fi signal and a place to sit. As basic as that is, some workers sit outside libraries and such after hours pulling in free wi-fi and sitting on benches or in cars. They’re proof of how little is needed. Coworks provide much more.
Go to coworks in Seattle and find theaters, coffee bars, massage rooms, and an amazing array of features. Small towns don’t have as many people (that’s why the town is considered small), but they can provide business luxuries compared to working from coffeeshops.
Coffeeshops are great, especially if you love coffee. They’re also great for networking. But, they tend to be noisy (hello, espresso), are not conducive to private conversations, and have business hours that are more likely to match the sun’s cycles than business cycles.
WIcoworks has just begun. For the price of a few lunches, subscribers get a month’s access (eventually 24/7) to a place that has power, wi-fi, a quiet workspace, whiteboards, and … Well, the things that come after the “and …” will come after it’s been open for a few days. Things have to start somewhere. At least for a few days or weeks it is BYOD, Bring Your Own Desk. That will change, too. Furniture may not be as important as the 1 Gigabit Internet where the upload speeds are as fast as the download speeds. That may not be important to many, but for those uploading videos it can be difference between getting a job done in a minute instead of an hour. That’s even more appreciated when it’s only five minutes instead of five hours.
Remote work is becoming more common. Traditionally, people found a job, then looked for a place to live. Now, people can decide to live on an island, and access their job remotely. When everything is online even people in the same office may use email rather than visiting each other’s desks.
Coworks are also attracting attention within the Gig Economy because of the nature of the gigs. Old-fashioned human networking remains important. Jobs and help may be available online, but coworks work because of the co-. People in a coworks have a tendency to talk to others in the room if someone needs help. Sometimes it is about fixing a bug, sometimes it is helping on a project. It is common enough that someone in the room finds a project explode in scope on a tight deadline. One of the best resources may be the other people in the room. Everyone knows everyone else and you may find a programmer, editor, illustrator, or consultant sitting within earshot. No need to post. Just shout, quietly, of course.