Ryan Wood

Product Builder, Rubyist, Entrepreneur of sorts
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29 Nov 2010
Cowork: The First Month

I first saw “cowork” as a concept on a Twitter post a year or so ago. Not knowing what it was, it forced me to create a new mental category about work environments. I come from a pretty traditional work environment. For the past 10 years, I’ve worked in a fairly typical office space. It was owned (or leased) by the company by which I was employed. I had a private office with door. It was certainly better than the cubicles of my youth, but I never thought much about it. It was just the office that you had to go to each day as a part of the job.

In August 2009, I was informed that my “job” would be ending as all software development would be moving to the home office in Houston, TX. I was given three months notice. It was November 1st before I knew it and I was no longer employed. While searching for another job, I decided to ramp up Sourcescape, my then part-time consulting business. The economy had other plans. I couldn’t find much work and there were no full-time jobs on the horizon.

Fast forward 10 months. It’s September 2010, Sourcescape is gaining some momentum. I’m working in various places. Some days I’m at home, others are in coffee shops, and others are in my good friend’s office who graciously offered me some office space. I see through Twitter that CoWork Greenville is expanding and taking applications for full and part-time spots. This got the wheels turning and I decided to learn more.

Figuring it Out

Was it just a place where people who were fed up with coffee shops go to work? What was the benefit? After all, I have some space to work at Amy Adele for free. However, I was isolated and really missed working with other intelligent people in my field. Maybe I should check out CoWork and see about coming down there a day or two a week.

It just so happened that the CoWork Greenville open house for their new location was around the corner, so I decided to go and check it out.

What I found was some of what I expected and something that I didn’t. It was a group of “web people” work worked in the same building, some working together, some independently, all growing their businesses. That, I expected. The surprise came when I realized that this was more than just a common work place. One of the overarching goals was to build a community of independents that could make an impact on each other and the greater Greenville community.

It’s hard to nail down what that means or how it will play out, but it was something that I wanted to be a part of. It seemed clear that joining the community would be tough to do once or twice a week. Even though Sourcescape wasn’t exactly in the place financially to justify the move, I felt like it was clearly where I needed to be. I took a leap of faith and signed a 1-year lease to become a CoWorker once the new location opened on November 1, 2010.

The First Month

The first week was a tough adjustment. Not only did I move to a new office, but I has just taken on a new client working with the great team at Rails Dog. It has been a long time since I’ve been one of the the new kid on the block. It was clear that many in this group had been working together for a while. The recent move brought a few of us new guys to bring the CoWorker count up to 16.

It’s always tricky navigating a new environment. So far, though, it’s been well worth it. As providence would have it, I’m fortunate to sit next to the super talented Matthew Smith of Squared Eye fame. As I get to know each of the guys (and girl) at CoWork, I continue to be amazed at the graciousness, talent and depth that this group brings together. I count myself blessed to be a part of it.

I have little idea of the the future holds for CoWork, or for Sourcescape for that matter, but I’m convinced that it is a journey worth taking and one that will continue to surprise me and bring a smile to my face.

If you’re interested in seeing how things unfold, please join us on the journey. You can follow us @cowork on Twitter or check out the CoWork photo stream on Flickr.

As always, I’ll occasionally blog right here.

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