It’s amazing how coffee can be conducive to community. Community is about sharing, it’s about developing passion and enthusiasm, it’s about friendship. And coffee is too. The age-old invite – “Let’s do coffee” – is a great way to sit down with someone. It’s cheaper and less formal than lunch, and it doesn’t stop you driving home like beer would.
Mauricio Freitas has often written about the group of coffee-drinkers he gathers each week in Wellington, and I know this works. The ACS in Adelaide have a regular Curry SIG. When I was at university, the Christian group I belonged to had a regular hang-out place, to the extent that you could go down there any time and find people you knew. It made the group stronger. I’m sure that if Mauricio could still get work done, he would hang out at the cafe all the time, making it a sort of office.
I sometimes wonder if a community could be built around a shared office space. Could a group of independent consultants (who would normally work from home) set up a shared office space and work from there, letting other people from within the community drop by any time for coffee, etc? Obviously there would need to be times when people would put ‘Do not disturb’ signs up, or disappear into offices for phone-calls to clients, but could an arrangement like this be conducive to both work and community? Could a business benefit from having a community built around it like this? Clearly there would have to be some rules, like “Don’t steal each other’s clients if they come by”, and “Remember there are people working here too” – but could it work?