The first HUB was started in London in 2005 and now there are x # worldwide.
Architecturally, there are high ceilings with exposed pipes, long rows of exposed lighting of all shapes and occasional color. There are tear shaped, round, tall, short, large, small tables scattered around the diamond shaped space. Surrounding the diamond are sound proof booths 4x the size of the old phone booth, unique meeting spaces with garage doors that go up and down with a remote.
Art of all kinds were on walls, hanging from the ceiling, showed up on chalk boards, white boards, and in bright colors and shapes.
Looking around I was drawn to comfortable small gathering spaces created with furniture, funky chairs, recycled wood stair steps and pillows, around the expresso machine and activity being acted out on a mini stage.
As a co-worker, I called Blue Ocean Innovation Center and took them on a tour of the lower level and ascended the spiral staircase to the 2nd level designed by the co-workers themselves, which double the space within 15 months of opening their doors. My dentist daughter called via Skype video as well and I conducted another tour with some co-workers waving.
The co-workers were intensely engaged, talking in groups, conducting formal meetings in the open or in see-through private booths, and talking at the “watercooler” (now the expresso machine), waving to many that seemed to know each other with others being totally oblivious to anyone else around them.
As a drop in, the co-worker at my table was a once a week member. A colleague walked up and they seemed steeped in collaboration and discussion about the quality of a project. I asked both of them if they knew each other before the HUB. They met at the HUB when one of them sent out an e-mail asking for help on a project.
This was my second visit and I would love to be here on a regular basis. There was no “onboarding” and one was left to figure it out. The co-workers model the culture and are helpful when asked how things work. While I was a little nervous about “how to be”, it was soon apparent that the culture is loose, independent, haphazard, and called for interaction, connection, and openness to being oneself in whatever way was meaningful for the individual.
Having grown up in a culture of focus on excellence in customer service, I felt a little ignored at first. After a friendly hello by the host, it was off to co-work, customer satisfaction was up to me. I grabbed a cup of coffee, searching for a cup on my own, and began to seriously get down to some work. Co-working is serious business…in fact I felt a little pressure to be productive and it was good!