My coworking story begins my freshman year of college. As an architecture student at Iowa State, two aspects of that year set the stage for coworking. The first was the dorm floor where I lived. The university had started the ‘Design Exchange’ the year prior. The ‘Design Exchange’ was using the dorm floor as a creative community. Between the girls’ side and the guys’ side there were 50 freshman design students living together. We had architects, graphic designers, landscape architects, interior designers, and other art related majors on the floor. It was great to live, study, and work among other students that were experiencing the rigors of design. We regularly had all-nighters as we worked on our studio projects together. Looking back, I can see how the collaborative environment aided everyone in their work.
The studio environment of freshman year is the second aspect of the beginning of my story. At Iowa State, the first three years of architecture are primarily spent in the studios at the Armory. The Armory is an old building that used to house the Iowa State’s athletic events like basketball games and wrestling matches. It had been converted into studio spaces for the design college. In that space you could not only be around other freshman architects, but also wander into the second and third years studios. The older architects served as mentors for the first year students. The ability to have mentors in addition to being in a creative studio was essential to my education as an architect.
After my freshman year, I changed my major to structural engineering. My education for the final years of college was marked by large lectures and individual study. Post college has been spent working for seven years as an estimator at a small lumber yard in Coralville, Iowa. Most of my time at the office was spent in an office by myself, but had some great coworkers to enjoy when I stepped out of my office. This past January my wife and I decided we were going to move to Colorado for a few reasons. Part of the decision was to quit my job at the lumber yard and seek employment elsewhere. As I was job searching, I came across Cohere in Ft. Collins. I visited their office and greatly enjoyed the environment, bringing back memories of the Armory from my freshman year. Then came the surprise, the lumber yard came back after two weeks of me quitting and asked if I would continue to work for them remotely. I said yes as I was facing unemployment in Colorado and my career of working from home began. I greatly enjoy working from home, but miss aspects of working in an office like the ability to brainstorm, share ideas and the camraderie.
My desire to start a coworking community comes from my entrepreneurial side. My wife and I have started a couple small businesses in Iowa and are currently working on a couple in Colorado. I see entrepreneurship and creativity as being enhanced by being around like-minded people. The collaborative environment of a coworking office is a benefit to all involved. I look forward to seeing how this community forms.
I would enjoy hearing other’s coworking stories. Feel free to share them in the comments.