The workplace is rapidly changing and therefore social networks are changing with them.

Co-working is not just for millennials but it’s been influenced by their vastly different approach to life and work. In the workplace, the newest generation of professionals are masters of digital communication, put in less time but get more done and have a distinct ability to collaborate and work in teams.

This has directly affected workspaces, with tech giants like Google and Apple leading the way for businesses tearing down cubicles and adding kitchens. Work/life balance has become work life integration.

Co-working spaces are a natural extension of these changes. They have a lot of variation, but they all aim to address the same need: an office for people without an office, a workplace culture for remote workers, startup founders and entrepreneurs. They are are hubs of social connection in a new economy and work culture. Wework, a large co-working company, has announced that they are following up their success with a plan for co-living spaces. The trend for shared spaces is growing rapidly.

I joined a co-working space in East Austin when I made the shift to an entirely remote position. There’s several spaces to choose from in town, but the one that felt like home to me is in old bus depot. Its a big warehouse full of bikes and art and people typing on laptops.

But it’s so much more than that. It’s people cooking lunch together and spontaneously collaborating on work and passion projects. It’s developer jobs written on the whiteboards, a kickball team and a kitchen with five different ways to make coffee. It’s hacking classes in the evening and yoga in the mornings.

But it wasn’t until the holidays that I saw this urban-mostly-millennial-melting-pot for what it really feels like, something much deeper than a work community: it's a friend family.

“Friends are the families you choose.” - Jess C. Scott

As young people started moving away from their families of origin and delaying marriages, the phrase urban tribe was coined to describe tightly knit friend groups who support each other in a myriad of ways. Co-working is facilitating these friend families by giving them a space to work together, to live together and to thrive together.

Why, then, do I keep seeing articles about how millennials don't know how to maintain friendships? I don’t see evidence of that, and neither do a lot of new studies.

I think we should dispel the notion of the antisocial young professional. All you have to do is stop by one of these spaces and say hello. Have a seat. Make some coffee. You're welcome here.


Felix Morgan is a writer, indie publisher, and BBQ enthusiast living in Austin, Texas. You can find more of her writing here. She’s a dedicated member the Chicon Collective, a co-working community made with love on the dirty east side.

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