Small, locally-operated spaces have been the backbone of the coworking movement since the early days, although we’ve failed to capture the world’s attention quite like WeWork. That is, up until now. The COVID pandemic has accelerated a worldwide shift to WFH, or as I like to say, work near home. This means that many of us have been able to trade in the commute to stay local, and in the process we get to rediscover the charm of our home town. We are officially entering the era of local coworking, and here’s why you should care:
More community connection and a sense of belonging
One of the benefits of working where you sleep is that you develop a deeper sense of belonging. Most commuters spend the majority of their waking hours in a town where they have no meaningful connections. This can lead to feeling displaced and out of touch. Outside of the office, you are surrounded by strangers.
When you work locally, you have more time to develop meaningful relationships with your neighbors. You start to feel like a known member of the community, and you take more pride in the place where you live. This is where local coworking truly shines. We take pride in helping our members discover their place in the local community by connecting them to events, organizations, and people who align with their interests. We are invested in our members’ wellbeing, and we also care about helping them become better citizens so that we can all grow together.
Put your hard earned-dollars back into your local economy
Would you rather spend your hard-earned money at an Olive Garden, or at the family-owned Italian joint down the street? Most of us would choose the latter, because it feels good to know where our money goes. The same applies to coworking– would you rather support a large, publicly traded company like WeWork? The chance that any of that money will improve your own community infrastructure are nil. In contrast, your membership at a local coworking space will help pay the salary of the owner and employees. Most of them live and pay taxes in the same zip code as you. The business itself pays local taxes, and is likely to also support local vendors. Spending local and shopping small is one of the best ways to ensure a bright future for your city or town.
Stop contributing to climate change
Whether you ride public transport, carpool, or (gasp) drive by yourself, your commute is taking a toll on the climate. Not to mention your takeout lunches, trips to Dunkin’, dry-cleaned suits…etc. I could go on and on. We know that climate change is a clear and present danger, and the time to take serious action was yesterday. Any business that is serious about its social and environmental responsibility should start by taking a look at the carbon footprint of a policy that requires employees to report to a centralized office. One of the most responsible steps businesses can take is to stop asking its employees to commute.
Local coworking spaces simply do it better
There’s just something about a locally-owned coworking space that large operators like WeWork will never replicate. When a business owner lives in the community in which he or she works, the business reflects the unique needs of the people who live there. There’s something about a truly local business that is impossible to scale; perhaps it is the fact that the business owners and staff truly care. It is my hope that as more and more people shift to working from home, or working near home, they too will truly care about their neighbors and their community. The era of living local is here, and it’s going to be great.