Coworking

Image: EA Virtual Meet-Up

Coworking involves having members work together in the same (physical or virtual) space, usually on individual projects. These projects don't have to be EA-related.

Coworking has a number of benefits:

  • Many members report that coworking makes them more productive by providing accountability.

  • Coworking doesn't require significant time commitment from participants; many participants have to work anyway, so commuting to and from the venue is the only additional time requirement.

  • People usually socialise before, between, or after work sessions, which can both provide healthy breaks from work and opportunities to learn about each other and the projects they're working on.

  • Having people to talk to between work sessions can spark solutions to hard problems or otherwise boost creativity.

Formats

  • Pomodoros: Many groups choose to operate in pomodoros. 25/5 or 50/10 usually works best. Virtually, you can use cuckoo.team to operate pomodoros in sync.

    • One group did a competition where, prior to pomodoros, participants share what task they're working on, and whoever takes the longest to finish their task, while finishing it before the timer goes off, wins. This encourages participants to learn how to set realistic goals and mitigate the planning fallacy.

  • Silent work with check-in at the beginning and the end. EA Philadelphia runs their 2 hour coworking sessions by spending the first ~5 minutes having people share what they're working on, working for the remaining time, and then checking in on their progress at the end.

  • You can also do something more unstructured, where people occasionally talk while working as they see fit. If you do this, you many want to have a separate area for people who want to work uninterrupted.

Venues

For in-person events, look for a place with:

  • Power outlets for laptops

  • Good internet connection

  • Public restrooms

  • Snacks and drinks or perhaps meals nearby (it's difficult to be productive when you're hungry!), though it's best if it isn't required for participants to purchase these.

Some locations groups have used:

  • Cafes (chain cafes are usually less strict about asking visitors to order food)

  • Public libraries, in a space where talking is acceptable

  • Hotel lobbies

  • An organizer's home or apartment

Zoom is generally sufficient for virtual coworking. Most groups ask participants to turn their microphones off, but leave video optional. Some participants like to screenshare what they're working on for extra accountability, but we don't recommend making this a norm. Other options include:

  • Gather.Town or Spatial.Chat. You can designate separate spaces for pomodoros, working, talking, being away from your keyboard, etc. For example, Marisa from EA Anywhere has set up a few spaces like this, using one of the outdoor templates on Spatial.Chat. (Labels are available here.)

  • Discord: there is an EA Coworking Discord designed for this, but it is an open space -- you may have EAs from outside your group joining your session. We don't recommend creating a Discord server solely for the purpose of coworking in your group.

  • Complice: Designed for structured goal-setting, though this is more complicated than some people prefer.