The ‘Why’ Behind Coworkation
The ‘Why’ Behind Coworkation
In order to understand the why behind Coworkation I need to tell you my personal story (sorry! Hope it’s not too long winded!).
Coworkation, to me, is very personal. It goes far beyond starting a business. It feels as though it’s the culmination of a whole life, of my life lessons and experiences, my passions and of my values.
I never worked in a cubicle nor within a corporate structure. I certainly was headed that way…As I made my way through University I dreamt of long days doing whatever it took to work my way up the corporate ladder. Success and wealth awaited me. I felt certain it was to be my destiny and there was no question that I wanted to live this lifestyle.
A ‘sliding doors’ moment changed all this. My elder and wiser brother had been telling me all throughout my university course that I needed to go and see the world. “Travel” I responded “is for hippies!”. However, my brother got married in Denmark and so I decided to take a short backpacking trip prior to the wedding…following that I was infected with the travel bug! All of a sudden visions of corporate glory seemed less important.
I was filled with a curiosity to explore the world, to see its sights, hear its sounds, taste its flavours, experience its cultures and smell its scents (admittedly, that hasn’t always been so pleasurable!). The cash I was putting aside from the multiple part-time jobs I was juggling whilst studying had a new purpose…rather than going towards a deposit for the first property in my envisioned property portfolio it was to go towards a year of exploration through Europe and South East Asia.
As my funds began to be depleted I asked myself “how I can I possibly continue to travel?”. You can’t endlessly travel the world…or can you? I believed I can…or, at least, my desire was strong enough for it to happen…I was determined that I was going to find a way.
I found myself out of cash in San Sebastian, Spain. So I picked up a didgeridoo and busked. I couldn’t play it properly, I couldn’t circular breathe, but it didn’t seem to matter…either the Spanish didn’t realise I was horrible, or those that did, seemed to pity me. Doing this bought me time whilst I tried to come up with an idea to make more than the few coins that were being thrown my way.
A few weeks later I had a simple idea…and one that changed the course of my life forever. I rented out an apartment, filled it with some mattresses and I went down to the train station to look for recently arrived backpackers to come and stay. I started running some pub crawls and throwing some parties as well as operating some surfing safaris along the Spanish & French coasts. I was making enough money during the Spanish summer to sustain my travels. I’d created my dream life!
Over the years things became a bit more serious. But one thing remained constant…my determination to remain location independent. I have structured my businesses in a way that I still have freedom of timetable and of movement. Doing this has enabled me to visit 70+ countries, live numerous cultures, hear countless fascinating stories, discover an abundance of new music and taste a huge variety of cuisines.
Through the fusion of work and travel I was able to work from an infinity of stunning and inspiring locations. Rainforests in Costa Rica, beaches in Mauritius & Brazil, mountains in Morocco and Nepal, hot springs in Iceland, picturesque villages in Guatemala, wildlife parks in Kenya and South Africa, rice fields in Vietnam and Indonesia, islands in Thailand and Madagascar…
My ongoing personal workation showed me the benefits and power that working whilst on the road can provide. Finding inspiration, creativity and imagination, increased productivity, being happy gets you into the right state to work, things are put into perspective, you tend to analyse yourself more, stepping out of your comfort zone strengthens resilience and flexibility and there is a sense of freedom which makes you feel like your boundaries are limitless.
As amazing as all these experiences have been there was one element lacking to complete the perfect lifestyle…people and community. Generally speaking there was a clear distinction between the work and the social components of my day. Although, without a doubt, there were other people doing what I was doing (ie. work/travel) they were few and far between. I would meet people in hostels and hang out with them at night, or go explore the surrounds during the day, but when it was time to get work done I would head off on my own. There was no digital nomad community.
In 2013 I discovered the concept of coworking and I immediately saw the benefits of working from a coworking space. Collaborations, skill and knowledge sharing and, most importantly, the sense of community. It was exactly what I had missed in my years on the road.
My mind began to ponder the idea of mixing coworking and travel. One day, as I sat there ruminating the possibilities of the fusion between work and travel, I had an epiphany…COWORKATION! The more I thought about it the idea of a coworkation seemed to be a natural progression of coworking…and of the way we work and live in general.
“Does the word ‘coworkation’ exist?” I asked myself. I searched online…nothing. I could find no reference to it at all. Yet, my intuition told me that it would become a commonly used word in the not-so-distant future. I foresaw that it would become a word in the dictionary and an understood noun. So I registered coworkation.com and paid to have it trademarked (although the trademark company I used ended up being a scam!).
I sat on the idea for a few years to focus on my existing businesses until, in September 2015, I was able to finally turn my attention to bringing the concept of Coworkation into existence.