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Downtown SD Emerging as New Tech Hub

Everyone knows your basic US tech cities – Seattle and San Francisco. And thanks to the major tech players like Microsoft, Amazon, Google, those cities will likely remain at the top of the tech heap for years to come. But San Diego is attracting significant attention as an emerging tech hub. And here’s why:

Lifestyle

If you want rain, go to Seattle. Busy streets? Try New York. But if you want great weather year-round without the bother of LA posers, you come to San Diego. And for the moment, San Diego is considered “affordable” when you compare housing prices to places like San Francisco. Keep in mind, the emerging workforce is one that empathizes quality over quantity. Twentysomethings are happy to give up big houses and hefty salaries for a freelancing flip-flop life.

Location

Not only does San Diego county offer broad expanses of land (think: North County’s Geico call center); but downtown San Diego has its underdeveloped East Village. From 2005 to 2008, the East Village was flush with developments. Now, eight years later, the empty lots and unused buildings are coming into focus as developers eye those blocks for expansion. The I.D.E.A. district and Makers Quarter are going to bring tech workers into an arts, commercial, and residential project that will rival swanky SF living.

Industry

So, when you think San Diego, you don’t automatically think tech software. But the city has a long history of developing everything from bio technology to microchips to missile launchers. We have our fair share of major players like Qualcomm and General Atomics. Plus don’t forget about our reputation as a research hub thanks to the huge universities.

San Diego has everything to become America’s next tech supercity. With the universities pumping out thousands of eager workers looking for ways to stay in Sun City, tech giants are seeking ways to capture the enthusiasm. Plus, with every student comes a new idea for an app, game, or device. So the city’s grassroots tech efforts are fed by the venture capitalists excited to hear something new from Sunny SD.

Tech growth is inevitable. And welcome.

 

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Coworking Communication Avenues

Although the peak hours of operations for a coworking space might be Monday through Friday from nine to five, coworkers operate 24 hours per day. And while there are always an energetic few who want to actively network face-to-face, others would prefer an online setting. In fact, coordinating coworking members is like herding cats. Keep in mind, if they were obedient dogs, they’d be operating out of a corporate office up the street.

So how do you wrangle coworking member together?

In short, food is the best way to bring people together. Just like a gaggle of cats that keep to separate corners during the day, cats pull together when you feed them at 5pm. If you want your coworkers to come together, buy some subs from the local sub shop or order enough pizza to feed everyone. Add a little background music and it’s a party. And yes, the chatty few will keep the conversations going, but the quiet ones in the background appreciate the opportunity to socialize – even if it just means offering a few smiles to other members.

Remain active online. You need to offer regular updates about activities at the coworking space. In the 1980s, that meant printing a monthly newsletter with cheesy photos and coupon for free chips at the sub shop. Today, it’s as simple as a Facebook group. Update it once or twice a week with membership news. Post lots of great, candid photos. And occasionally encourage members to join together for an official event like a member appreciation party.

Talk to your members. People are shy. They don’t know how to break the ice. Knock on doors and ask how business is going. Encourage them to respond to the Facebook updates. Pull another member into the conversations. Conversations inside the coworking space need an organic element in order to feel genuine.

So, communication at the coworking space is all about options. Coworking members aren’t the kind of corporate employees who will conform to strict standards. So coworking managers and community coordinators have to offer a range of options. With very few exceptions will you have 90-100% participation on any one activity. But with several avenues of communication, you will reach the vast majority of members who want to engage.

The Perils of Working from Home

Recently, NPR was interviewing an expert (something about politics, finance, etc…) and the expert’s dog decided to join the conversation. In the background, on live radio, listeners around the world heard Fido bark. Several times. The expert must have scrambled to shoo the dog out of the room and close the door. And I can image a tense conversation after the interview, “I was live on NPR and you couldn’t keep the dog quiet?”

Admittedly, working in an office doesn’t always mean you have a perfectly professional setting at all times. We’ve all heard raucous laughter in the background of a call center. But if you are trying to portray yourself as an expert professional, you need a controlled environment.

Working at home also comes with distractions. Of course, we can all get caught up watching too much cable news during the day. But in our world of constant connections, small distractions are simply a way of life. Even in an office, you have the distractions that come with Facebook, text messages, and cable news on your phone. The real distractions are the big ones – waiting for the cable repair man, stopping by the bank, dropping off the dry cleaning, etc. If you have an office (either corporate or coworking) you are much more likely to put off errands until the weekend. And you are far more likely to share the household chores with a spouse or housemate.

Potentially worse than the distractions that come with working at home, you will also face the isolation. Walking around a creaky house at 11am on a weekday can make you feel like you’re the last survivor of humanity. Even if you walk outside, the houses are dark and quiet. Very few drivers are on the road. It’s just you and birds. And the birds are busy with their workday of building nests and laying eggs. At a coworking space, you feel connected. Even if the guy next to you is programming an app to rate snack bars in Japan, you and your coworking coworkers are working towards the common goal of productivity.

Don’t sit at home and work. It’s depressing. Get out and find some other brave soul focused on forging their own path at a coworking space near you.

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Why the Gig Economy Isn’t Going Away

Most presidential elections come with rhetoric about jobs and the economy. And while the majority of jobs that come with an improved economy may still look like a traditional 40-hour employment agreement, freelance work is on the rise. And it’s not going anywhere. Whether you are a self-employed programmer, part-time graphic designer, or a member of an app development team, you will need a community of like-minded professionals seeking the same professional satisfaction.

The Workers
The up-and-coming workforce is against the idea of a traditional job. Millennials, as a group, are far more interested in life experiences like camping, travel, and leisure than they about having a house, a car, and a high credit line. Corporations are finding that freelancers, while expensive on the hourly end, are more motivated and efficient that full-time employees.

The Benefits
Health insurance was one of the driving forces for finding and keeping a traditional job. And while it’s likely that health insurance will change over the next four years, universal healthcare is likely here to stay. And if you are in a liberal state like California or Massachusetts, changes in federal healthcare laws could be offset by changes in state laws. So if you can get health insurance on your own, a traditional job comes with more restrictions than benefits.

The Workplace
As the US moves towards a knowledge-based economy (as compared to a manufacturing economy), the average worker won’t need more than a cell phone and a laptop to be highly effective. Corporations are seeing the cost-cutting benefits that come with workers who pay for their own workplace (and health insurance).

If you’ve ever worked from home for long stretches of time, then you know that the isolation and quiet can be unsettling. And if you’ve ever worked from a coffee shop, you know the sound of blenders and screaming children is less than professional. Coworking spaces are a key component in the gig economy. Collective workplaces offer the human interaction we need to feel connected day-in and day-out. Plus they offer a brand of professional flexibility found nowhere else.

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Corporate Partnerships and Coworking Spaces

In many ways, coworking spaces are the antithesis of traditional corporate culture. With an environment based on flexible working spaces and 24-hour availability, coworking offices have a fluidity that is nearly non-existent in most 9-5 offices. However, because coworking spaces have become so prevalent, and because coworking spaces are producing some of the most innovative products and services, coworking centers and corporations have formed tentative bonds that offer benefits to each partner.

Money
The coworking economic model is not always the most stable. Because coworking lease agreements tend to be highly fluid, coworking managers don’t always know how much revenue is going to be coming in month over month. Corporate sponsors can lend stability to a coworking company’s budget. With an annual sponsorship, the coworking company sees stable revenue and the corporations gets brand exposure to up-and-coming professionals.

Space
Sometimes, coworking spaces get over-run with members who need space to work. And sometimes, corporations have dozens of empty cubicles to fill. A space exchange helps balance the desk equation by offering an additional resource for each side throughout the year. In conjunction with a corporate sponsorship, a desk exchange program can really help both sides use square footage effectively.

Collaboration
Some of the most innovative thinking happens inside coworking spaces. And some of the best resources are locked up inside the corporate structure. For example, a manufacturer with unused machine time might need a new innovative product to produce. And a coworking team might have some great ideas without the financial resources to produce a prototype or finish product. By coming together, both sides of the equation get to maximize resources with minimum risk.

It’s not always easy for corporations and coworking spaces to find each other. Generally, collaboration must come about through casual contact at MeetUp events and networking parties. And as with any possible endeavor, the partnership takes time to develop into something highly productive. However, coworking spaces are the center of enterprise thinking. And corporations will remain the core of financial resources. So each side has the motivation to seek out the other and find common ground for development.

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The Digital Nomad and the CoWorking Space

Gig economy… Side hustle… Digital nomad… The face of the workplace is changing. In an effort to attract talent and reduce costs, employers are utilizing coworking spaces to allow distance workers to work in a professional environment. And individuals are no longer looking towards traditional employment for part-time and full-time work. These workers now crash together in coworking spaces around the world, grateful that they aren’t relegated to a kitchen table or crowded Starbucks to get work done.

For nearly two decades, traditional employers have struggled to manage good employees who opt to work from home. With good employees difficult to find and expensive to replace, most employers have bent strict rules to allow some to work from home. Supervision, productivity, and insurance conflicts arise as (unlikely) problems. Thanks to coworking spaces, however, more corporate employers are allowing employees to work at desk outside of the house, but away from the corporate hub.

Even for those with a full-time corporate job, a coworking space can be a great way to build up a freelance portfolio, work a digital side job, or just get out of the house. The days of working one, full-time job are practically done. Regardless of how full-time employment meets (or fails) modern financial demands, more workers are seeing entrepreneurialism in their future. Coworking spaces are incubators; emerging tech, service, and business ideas come to light thanks to the inherent interactivity of coworking spots. Between the casual coffee pot conversations and the official networking dinners, coworking spaces are the new “garage office.” In other words, the next Apple (Facebook, Google) is probably under development in a coworking space as we speak.

And finally, the digital nomad. Why bother paying rent or a mortgage if you can roam around the world, working digitally every day? For the true tech worker, a network of coworking spaces, coffee shops, and AirBnB apartments can serve as the basis for a nomadic life. See the world and earn a living… what could be better?

Even the face of the coworking office is changing. At one time, shared offices and executive suites were open Monday through Friday, nine to five. But today, the urban coworking space is a 24-hour operation as part-timers, freelancers, and all-nighters come together to feed off each other’s ideas and build momentum towards a more satisfying work-life balance.

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CyberTECH’s NEST Receives $40,000 Grant to Help Generate Tech Startups

Mayor Faulconer lauds new “living, breathing workplace” and “new way of doing things”

As part of Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s commitment to grow San Diego’s tech innovation sector within the “Smart and Safe Cities” campaign, the City of San Diego has awarded a $40,000 grant to CyberTECH’s NEST CoWork space to help generate the creation of more startups and jobs across the region.

Officially opened nearly six months ago, NEST, the 16,000 square foot space located within the Manpower building in Bankers Hill (1855 First Avenue, San Diego, CA 92101), is now fully leased with 47 resident members. That total is expected to grow to 100 companies by mid-2017. For every resident member, NEST also supports an additional four non-resident members through its Community Social Incubation model.

The City of San Diego’s “Smart and Safe Cities” program emphasizes the need to support tech startups with infrastructure, mentorship and access to capital. By definition, a “smart and safe” city encourages a best-practices approach to preventing cyberattacks and related disruptions to the Internet and other open networks that are increasingly vulnerable, along with protecting basic user privacy and product safety.

“What we see at NEST represents a momentous shift away from the traditional workplace – a living, breathing workplace that embraces a new way of doing things,” said Mayor Faulconer in making the announcement. “NEST represents our city’s fast-changing, ever-flexible, always upwardly-mobile economy, especially for downtown, which is more vibrant than ever.”