wocowork – Our first year of Coworking

The foyer of wocowork, a coworking space in Oxford, UK

If you come and visit White October, you’ll see this photo that I took in a restaurant in Wellington, New Zealand.

It’s a little wind-up toy that came on the little plastic tray that had the bill on it.

When we moved offices about a year ago, the cobalt blue feature wall in the foyer was crying out for some type of decoration, so I used Rasterbator to produce an enlargement of the Robo Dino photo, printed out on 28 pieces of A4 paper. It was done as an experiment but for some reason it’s still up there. I suppose that dinosaurs are pretty cool, especially wind-up robo ones.

As previously mentioned on this blog, we were thinking of ideas of what to do with the extra office space in the new building. We hit on the idea of coworking, which takes the hot desking concept and adds an extra dimension by emphasising the creation of a community spirit.

The first non-White October cohabitant was Gareth. He’s a Flash developer whose desk is up on the first floor, embedded with all the other Octoberists. Later on, our first downstairs coworker was Paul, the head honcho of Perini a “forward-thinking content and media group”.

Since then we’ve had all sorts of folks come and work with us including, a travel writer, an IT support consultant, software developers, technology strategists, healthcare recruiters, a financial advisor, an engineer for Deutsche Bahn and a researcher from Xerox PARC. One or two come in every day, some one or twice a week and some people pop in for a couple of weeks before continuing with their travels. We’re very flexible.

Soon, we will be welcoming the “Head of Online” for an international marine conservation charity, which should be great. We are particularly keen to get more coworkers from non tech fields such as music management, graphic design, journalism and so forth. If you know anyone who fits the bill, they can register their interest online, or they can just give us a call.

We also started to host events in the space. One was the Oxford version of Open Data Day. Another was the inaugural meeting of Agile Oxford (the next meeting is on 9 March 2011). We also recently hosted a meeting of the User Experience Book Club Oxford.

Along the way, we’ve come to call our space “wocowork” for want of a better name. Robo Dino has become the de facto mascot and we have been gradually improving the space with more desks and chairs, shelves and some lockers. We’re still working on some comfy sofas and a meeting room.

It’s been an interesting year. We’ve also recently started Tweeting our 140 character thoughts under the name @wocowork, and we intend to continue blogging about our co-working journey.

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