Nomination for Top 25 Innovators…

by Karrie Kohlhaas on July 20, 2009

in Boundaries,Client Feature,Cultural Commentary

Susan and Jacob of Office Nomads

Jacob and Susan of Office Nomads

I just nominated Office Nomads for Seattle Business’ Top 25 Innovators. Read my nomination letter below…

Susan Evans and Jacob Sayles created Office Nomads, a coworking community for entrepreneurs and freelancers. Independent types who had sworn off “the office” and went solo have been lured by the siren song of genuine community at this coworking space on Capitol Hill.” The space is open so “Nomads” don’t feel boxed in by the very cubicles they once fled. The goal is to blur the often hard lines between people and let go of our cultural habit of living highly compartmentalized lives. Instead of going to a coffee shop or working at home alone, Nomads enjoy office banter, and all the amenities of an office space without the hierarchy of a corporate employer or the isolation of working alone.

Sayles says that we often fool ourselves into thinking we are “more efficient” working alone, “without distraction”.An underlying passion behind Office Nomads is the encouragement of healthy, human distraction–the connection so many crave. Nomads are a thriving example that you can get work done in the presence of others. Sayles and Evans poke some big holes in the erroneous” assumption that isolation in the name of efficiency is the kind of culture people are seeking.

When a Nomad has a question, someone in the room might have the answer–imagine that! Instead of searching Google you can just ask someone! I’ve found coworking to be efficient and fun. Friendships and colleagues are made. Jokes are passed, bagels shared and indeed, work gets done!

Evans and Sayles are often encouraged to expand or franchise Office Nomads. “You should start one of these in Ballard!” to which they respond “We’d love to help you do that!” They are not trying to take over the world but instead they embody the very type of community they have created. That is something worth applauding.

And applause they have received:
They’ve been covered in Seattle Magazine, Seattle Business Monthly, Fortune Small Business, New York Times, King 5 News and MSNBC to name just a few. Definitely a contagious idea and Evans and Sayles have been on the leading edge of the coworking movement.

There are other coworking spaces popping up around the country and Office Nomads participates in a visa program that allows any member of those communities free access to Office Nomads when they are in town. Office Nomads lives within a larger community, where indie professionals stay connected across the nation and have access to a friendly office space when on the road.

Did office space exist before? Sure, if you wanted to pay for a room with a key in an executive suites building.” But community for the self-employed who want to remain independent but not isolated is hard to come by.” Sayles and Evans have hit the sweet spot between independent spirit and thriving community, the intersection of cool and friendly, and have created a place where efficiency does not equal lonely. As a long-time entrepreneur, I’d have to say that’s innovative, and in our time, I’d even call it revolutionary.

© 2009 – 2010, Karrie Kohlhaas. All rights reserved.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Phil Dunn March 29, 2010 at 1:20 pm

I wonder if this would work for a writer. I tend to crave quiet-tude. I work at my buddy’s law office.. which is almost like a library but with occasional phone conversations and office banter.

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Karrie Kohlhaas March 29, 2010 at 4:16 pm

Hey Phil. Good to hear from you. Office Nomads has a great space with several rooms for coworking and 3 private conference rooms of different sizes if you need a period of total silence or privacy. Coworking is not for the person who cannot stand any background noise or who prefers being isolated. It’s great for the person who can work with a modicum of banter most of the time and outbursts or conversations at other times–much like working in a creative company. Remember, everyone there is wanting to get their own work done too.

What I like is that it’s not a bunch of random people at a coffee shop or a library. It’s a community in the truest sense–people are interested in you and want to know you, people share ideas, bring cookies, go out to lunch and may even hang out after working or invite each other to their parties. I can’t remember the last time someone sitting at a table in a library or coffee shop invited me to their cabin–but this could easily happen at Office Nomads. I say check it out. I see you are in Costa Mesa, CA. I did a quick Google search and found several coworking sites near you; after you try it out, come back and let us know what you think!

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