Co-working is a fast-growing phenomenon that is becoming increasingly attractive for freelancers, entrepreneurs and businesses. We talk to Michael Youngblood and Alex Maden who co-work across the globe. They tell us about one particular experience in Curacao.
Michael Youngblood is an entrepreneur who splits his time between being a part-time editor at MIT Press and launching new ventures. One such venture is Work from Anywhere, which organised a 30-day co-working trip to the island of Curaçao. Following a sailing trip to the Caribbean with 30 people, Michael noticed the boundaries between work and life were getting increasingly blurred. This has led to a rise in popularity of the digital nomad – people who work remotely and live a nomadic lifestyle. As a result, co-working locations across the globe are rapidly increasing. Michael saw this shift as an opportunity, which is why he decided to start organizing co-working retreats around the world.
Michael set-up Work from Anywhere for, as he describes it, “like-minded people with flexible work lives”. It was designed to be a 30 day retreat for people to work, share ideas, brainstorm or, quite simply, to “figure out their next life steps”.
The retreat in Curaçao was a big success with 25 people from across 12 nationalities including the UK, Kenya, Colombia, US and Europe staying, ranging from freelancers, programmers, software engineers and entrepreneurs. In fact, one company paid for an employee to go.
Michael believed it was important to have structure around each day, which contributed to the success of the retreat. Everybody was tasked with cooking duties, running a workshop or hosting an event. He believed that “all people needed to contribute” to not only keep the spirit of the retreat, but also to create an open, team-based environment whereby people could brainstorm, troubleshoot and support each other.
Alex Maden is a freelance designer with a love of travel. She joined Work from Anywhere in Curaçao after reading an article about co-working. As a freelancer, Alex was missing the “buzz and creative environment” of a studio, so this was a great way of “combining design, travel and meeting like-minded creatives”.
Alex found her fellow co-workers were a great source of inspiration and motivation; “Being able to chip in and advise on brand/design discussions, as well as ask experts in other fields for advice was invaluable”. She found the retreat also enabled her to structure her days better and be more productive. A group of people always headed down for “beers on the beach” at 4pm and she wanted to be part of this. Usually, Alex would have worked into the evening to make up for lost time in the day. This way, she was more focused to be done by 4pm.
For anybody looking to co-work, Alex believes that, “if you have a specific project in mind, a work idea you want to grow, or, quite simply a change of scene, then something like this is perfect”.
In fact, something like Work from Anywhere is also ideal for people looking to change or take next steps in their career. As Michael Youngblood puts it, “what’s 30 days to figure out the next five years.”
Interestingly, as the organiser, Michael also really learnt from the experience. He felt that time zones should not be a barrier to co-working as he felt that it was up to him to create a working framework. Following the success of Work from Anywhere, Michael is now planning more co-working retreats in South Korea, Japan, Bali, Cuba, and New Zealand.
To get started on a co-working adventure, check out the following sites: