Tech jobs: ‘Cowork’ spaces gaining exposure, popularity and potential

There might be a new home for nomadic tribes of tech entrepreneurs.

“Cowork” spaces — already successful in Baltimore, Orlando, and Austin, Texas, and many other cities — are shared working environments for freelancers, self-employed, road warriors and any of the work forces who do not normally work in offices. They offer a social gathering for collaboration and connectivity with value stemming from the informal, self-directed and self-filtering of the nomad-workers community.

“Coworking connects the doers and the dreamers,” said Ken Evans, co-founder at Ideafield in Ybor City. Coworking is a collaborative, open, self-directed resource for the tech community offering common ground and equality on interactions between all levels of businesspeople, he said.

The concept is getting a close look from economic development organizations in several locally focused studies.

One, the Locational Assessment and Recommended Strategic Plan for Economic Growth, a study by the New York and New Jersey firm Biggins Lacy Shapiro & Co., was released in October 2010 and contains detailed recommendations on ‘cowork’ spaces. They include establishing such spaces as a way to foster entrepreneurship within emerging clusters such as electronic health records, medical devices, business analytics and information technology.

The Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corp. led the study and is seeking input from a range of government and private sources before making any policy or comments. Economic development executives stressed that this currently is a consultant’s study and not adopted or digested fully at this point.