Thursday, April 7, 2011

why be square when you can be cube?

co-ownership instead of private owning and sharing instead of exclusivity has been a topic one stumbles into increasingly often. many forms of what i've been dubbing 'new collectivism' have been a part of online and neighborhood communities, such as sites like brain republic, babysitter exchange and couchsurfing in addition to all small circles of friends who order their organic produce together or share a car. we're developing our own, lihapiiri (i.e. meat circle), to include more people in the regular order of local, sustainable meat straight from a farm.

office shares have been a reality for years, but a new openness towards outside influence encouraged some brooklynites – well, surprise surprise – to develop a network of open workspaces for those who have no permanent office at their disposal. in a city where freelancers flock to little cafes and fill the seats of libraries and rents are extremely high, there is a pressing need for a room of one's own – and preferably outside the already crammed living quarters new yorkers are accustomed to – but also a sense of community.

for example, my own working time in the city was spent less at my alma mater up north by harlem and more at the corner coffee shop in williamsburg where i lived. although i recognized and greeted everyone else who frequented the same little establishment, we weren't sharing an office or a space in such a socially acceptable way to start behaving anywhere near as coworkers.

the new open network i'm talking about is called loosecubes. it started from the basic tenet that most work these days is flexible both time and location wise. add social networking and the need to connect to the equation, and you've got a basic online social application. now make it physical and material, that is, take it to the streets, to more or less established office and work spaces and, tadah, you've got a network of desks at anyone's disposal.

on their website you can look for or add a space. members can seek spaces they want to work at, and for a fee starting from zero$ a day, you can become a part of a working community – or just work silently at your own desk. always wanted to know how a psychotherapy office functions? why not spend a day at one. wondered what digital marketing agencies look like on the inside? why not go and become a part of the community for a week.

surely it can be socially challenging and even daunting to some people. sometimes chemistry can be tricky. but there is also the possibility that connections, even friendships, are formed and, moreover, the learning potential is immense.

needless to say, for a freelancer it sometimes feels simply great to sit next to a proper desk or have coworkers to talk to by the coffeemaker.

there are other such sites, like desktime. but what about starting a network of loosecubes in helsinki? go here.

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