First Steps

Coworking First Steps: Top Books

Coworking First Steps: Top Books

While the coworking community is known for its active blogging culture, we also relish the chance to curl up with a good book and dig a little deeper into the trends shaping—and being shaped—by flexible workspaces the world over.

We’ve put together a list of our all-time favorites here. These are the books we keep coming back to, the new ones we’re excited to add to our shelf, and even a couple of forthcoming ones we can’t wait to read! These top coworking books are essential tools for managers, operators, and community members who want to find their next great coworking read.

This is a part of our Coworking First Steps series, a collection of resources designed to help new coworking spaces find their footing.

Coworking Essentials

Coworking: Building Community as a Space Catalyst by Angel Kwiatkowski & Beth Buczynski

This book was written in 2011, during the early days of coworking. But don’t be fooled by the publication date; the principle on which it was founded—community first, space second—hasn’t aged a day. It’s that principle that both authors, owners of Cohere coworking space in Fort Collins, Colorado, relied on to achieve coworking success.

Sisters in Arms: Women in Search of Inclusive Coworking Spaces by Ivanne Pousssier

Ivanne Poussier undertook a six-month journey across Europe to visit and profile women-focused coworking spaces before the pandemic. Poussier wanted to understand the efficacy of this business model, and in turn has shone a light on why they were started, how they were founded, and what keeps them going. Curious? You can read about the project in her own words on the Cobot blog.

Elemental Change: Making Stuff Happen When Nothing Stands Still by Neil Usher

Ever feel like there are too many changes taking place for you to take stock of—let alone plan for? Becoming agile may hold the key, and enable you to let go of half-baked planning documents that are often obsolete before they’re implemented. Neil Usher, Chief Workplace and Change Strategist at GoSpace, draws on two years of research to elucidate the frameworks and models that will set you on the path to achieving agility.

The Coworking Handbook: The Guide for Owners and Managers by Ramon Suarez

Author Ramon Suarez drew on his experience as co-founder of Betacowork when putting together this highly practical companion to your coworking journey. He breaks down coworking models, community needs, and the marketing, finance, and legal requirements you’ll need to think about when you’re opening a coworking space. Best of all? Use the included checklists and aids to get you thinking and acting out of the box.

No More Sink Full of Mugs: Lighten Your Workload, Increase Participation, and Build Better Culture in Your Coworking Space by Tony Bacigalupo

From the man who lives and breathes community, coworking, and culture, this book is bound to put your mind at ease when it comes the finer points of keeping your community prosperous. In it, he handles everything from managing printing in your coworking space to setting up a membership exchange program to welcome folks into your coworking space who may otherwise not have the means to afford the opportunity.

Community

Get Together: How to Build a Community With Your People by Bailey Richardson, Kai Elmer Sotto, and Kevin Huynh

The authors of this community-building handbook, who are also the folks behind the consultancy People & Company, interviewed hundreds of community organizers in an effort to determine how thriving communities are built and sustained. This is the ultimate guide to community co-creation, and just the thing you’ve been looking for if you’re not quite sure how to take your first steps.

Our friends at Coworkies hosted Bailey Richardson on their Hot Water Podcast in 2020, listen to it here.

Community: The Structure of Belonging (2nd Edition) by Peter Block

This book is a deeply optimistic read about how communities can forge a new future in which familiar concepts of leadership and service are upended. As an advocate for sustainable change at the local level, Block interviews knowledgeable and insightful experts in the field. While inclusive community building is not explicit in the book, it certainly shares tools that can inform this approach.

Startup Communities: Building an Entrepreneurial Ecosystem in Your City (2nd Edition) by Brad Feld

Originally published in 2012, Feld, a venture-capitalist turned entrepreneur, updated and expanded the second edition published in 2020. It’s more than just a book that describes the latest models of acceleration and incubation. It captures what he’s learned on the journey from hierarchy to network, and how to stimulate, if not secure, the longevity of local communities that support entrepreneurs through failure and success.

Design

The Style of Coworking: Contemporary Shared Workspaces by Alice Davies and Kathryn Tollervey

Take a photographic tour of 30 workspaces from all over the world, sublimely organized between the covers of this book. Each of them has some element of innovation, from spaces as large as a Google Campus to some cozy neighborhood spots—revealing how they created their atmosphere along the way. Find inspiration in their use of color, texture, light, furniture, and foliage, and keep an eye out for solutions that have stood the test of time.

Space for Creative Thinking: Design Principles for Work and Learning by Christine Kohlert and Scott Cooper

By examining a multitude of working and learning environments, the authors have teased out the principles that make successful spaces “work” for the people who use them. Written by a leading German architect and an American author, it has something in it for every coworking organizer to consider. It includes a wide variety of case studies and interviews with both designers and users of work and learning environments.

Note: the linked page is only available in German

The Other Office 3: Creative Workspace Design by Lauren Grieco and Marlous van Rossum-Willems

Frame, the Amsterdam based interior-design publisher, released the third in their series on workspace design in 2018. By focusing one chapter on what space means for brands, and another on employee wellbeing, this book will equip you with the vocabulary and key arguments needed to persuade that team you’re speaking with to join your flex office.

Business

The Tiny MBA: 100 Very Short Lessons about the Long Game of Business by Alex Hillman

Alex Hillman, founder of Indy Hall, a true landmark coworking space in Philadelphia (and whom you may also know from his blog Dangerously Awesome) has written a 30 minute book on business you’ll want to spend hours reading. Each page is an idea or lesson meant to paint a holistic (and realistic) picture of how to succeed at any venture. This business book from a coworking founder is an essential for your reading list. While you’re at it, you probably want to give The First Ten, Hillman’s audiobook, a listen.

Ultimate Coworking Launch Sequence by Angel Kwiatkowski

Whether you’ve just started thinking about opening a space and are curious about what it would take, or plan to open your location’s doors in a couple weeks’ time and have the feeling you’ve missed something, Kwiatkowski has you covered. Make sure you have this behind-the-curtain workbook to help you sleep easy in the knowledge you know what comes next.

Business Model Generation by Alexander Osterwalder and Yves Pigneur

This read will not only expand your entrepreneurial toolbox, it will give you a framework to understand and talk through the ideas and problems your entrepreneurial member base may be facing too. If you’re already a fan of Eric Ries’ The Lean Startup, this book will aid you in acting practically, and communicating effectively, as you nurture your new business. The publishers have also made a wealth of auxiliary materials available on their blog, including videos and templates.

Forthcoming

We’re excited to add more about these titles when they’re available. For now, follow the links to learn more about what’s to come and how to support these projects.

Around the World in 250 Coworking Spaces by Pauline Roussel and Dimitar Inchev

You can also read our interview with Pauline on our blog.

The Coworking Diversity and Inclusion Handbook by Tash Thomas

Finding Your Next Great Read...

The Coworking Library is a resource we refer to on the regular and is one of the places we go to find a good read. Swing by and see for yourself! We recently interviewed Johanna Voll, one of the founders, if you’re curious about their project. Read what she shared with us, and what the Library has been up to lately, on our blog.


Do you have a favorite read that we missed or a new release that you think we should add to our recommendations? Let us know! Drop us a line at communication@cobot.me and we’ll be sure to get back to you.

Madeleine Dymond

Communication Assistant at Cobot and former coworking space organizer. Part analog bookbinder, part digital publisher, and lover of classic film scores and animal colors.