The Value of Co-Working
Last Friday the Drupal community in Tampa enjoyed our third Drupal Co-Working Event at Tampa Bay WaVE. It was slightly smaller than in past months, but in some ways, this worked better in my humble opinion. For me, it has been a challenge in the past to stay focused and to get a lot of real work done. With less people though, the environment felt calmer and even a bit quieter. When I spoke to Scott Olipra, one of the Tampa Bay WaVE members who helped us organize the event, he pointed out that people always have the option of moving off to a room by themselves for a while so they can focus on work, and then they can move back into the main room when they want to socialize. I think it's important for participants to realize that they aren't being anti-social if they need to move or put in headphones for a while during their time at the co-working space.
While everyone surely has different goals and expectations for these kinds of events, I would think that some common ground lies in the hope that we can connect with other like-minded individuals and discuss our job-related or Drupal-related struggles and/or triumphs. Two participants of our co-working group work at a traditional office, but persuaded the management to let them participate in our co-working day. They talked about how frustrating it can be when you work in an office where most people don't even understand what Drupal is, or what it is you do for 8 hours a day. Just to have a day where you can share some common ground with others is comforting.
Another participant was able to get a lot of hands-on help with setting up her Drupal site locally so she could actually start building. Spending one hour with someone knowledgeable probably saved her 10+ hours it would have taken her to debug everything on her own. We were able to discuss site architecture and the building blocks of her site, so she knew where to best use taxonomies vs. content types.
I enjoyed sharing some of my knowledge of theming, which of course much of it I have gained from other Drupal community members. It was fun for me to be able to give back, and pass on the torch to keep the information flowing. I even borrowed some Design to Theming slides from the lovely Emma Jane Hogbin, and was able to point to her as a great resource for continued learning.
It may be true that during co-working days, the actual number of hours of billable work may be slightly lower; but I think that not everything that has value is quantifiable in billable hours. Drupal co-working helps us to grow; to connect and build relationships with others in the Drupal community; to help some people and learn from others. Sometimes we need to step out from behind our computers and build that human connection face-to-face. For those of us that work from home that the co-working events are targeted toward, it can force us take our rusty social skills out of the toolbox and sharpen them up a bit. And who knows, you might even have a little fun too!
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