Gather ‘Round: On co-working & collaboration

September 20, 2016

Personal confession: The corporate buzzword “collaboration” has always really corned me out. It’s ubiquitous. It’s frequently tossed out as an obligatory, abstract thing that should just exist in various professional settings. It’s on every Gen Z and Millennial trend report as something we must have in order to be happy in the workplace.

Now the idea behind it, I obviously can get behind — but to me, the loaded word “collaboration” just feels like a tall, very formal order for the smaller, day-to-day moments when we just work together well. Overuse of the word has become a pet peeve,

Well, I recently had to face this pet peeve head-on. I was looking to get out of my work-from-home situation a few days a week and find a workspace to be more productive in. I stumbled upon Gather, a co-working office with two locations in Richmond, Virginia, which bills itself as a “collaborative space where startups, entrepreneurs, work from home professionals, and small businesses can work, meet, and collaborate.”

(Notice they use my pet peeve word not once, but twice.)

Now, beyond the mission statement, I quickly learned that every individual pillar of Gather encourages collaboration:

  • The traditional water cooler is replaced with a stocked coffee bar featuring local java, baked goods and bar stools — enticing you to sip and stay awhile.
  • The traditional stuffy cubicle is replaced with long oak community tables and high, standing desks (with plenty of outlets!), encouraging you to sit alongside new folks.
  • The stifling halogen lighting is replaced with floor-to-ceiling windows, letting in natural light; closed-off walls and hallways are replaced with a more open-concept.
  • Even the events — monthly happy hours, “Gather Makers Series” (monthly craft fair), “Gather Spotlight Series” (monthly lunch and learn), and “Gather for Lunch” (frequent organized lunch meet-ups), all encourage you to meet new professionals in the Richmond community.

After two months of working this way, guess what? I’m totally drinking the Kollaboration Kool-Aid. I’ve met new people, learned about dozens of new startups in Richmond, and it has totally transformed my productivity. As I embark on the next steps in my career, it’s the best move I could have made.

I guess I’ll need to choose a new corporate buzzword to hate!

Does space impact the way you work?

What changes have you made to your work setting that impacted your productivity?

Would you ever consider a co-working space?

Which corporate jargon bugs you the most?

Tell us your thoughts in the comments below!


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