a collage of lots of Zoom screenshots

1 Year of Daily Coworking

It’s March 11, 2020 — a Wednesday.

The world hasn’t completely shut down yet — that will happen Friday the 13th — but things are definitely getting weird.

I didn’t have any grand plan around building a community. I’d just been working from home for the last 10 years and knew how challenging and lonely it can be to sit in front of your computer all day not interacting with anybody in any meaningful way, and I thought offering people a place where they could chat with another a human being might be a welcome respite, especially against the backdrop of a global pandemic.

So I tweeted:

The first few days, only a few people joined. But over the course of a few months (and thanks to some friends sharing it with their friends), the number of people who joined continued to grow. I hosted a virtual coworking session (lovingly dubbed “cowrok”) almost every weekday for the last year — about 260 sessions or so.

One of the unexpected benefits of the calls, especially early on, was that people from all around the country (and the world) began to share about how they were dealing with COVID19 — layoffs, anxiety, loss, government response, etc. That global perspective served as a potent reminder for me: we’re all in this together.

People hungry for information, normalcy, and human interaction proved fertile ground for the growth of something greater than the sum of its parts.

I’ve learned a lot over the last year and have some thoughts about why this idea resonated the way that it did, and I’ll talk more about that at the end of the post, but I think it’s only fitting first to say thank you to all of the people who participated in our daily calls. This community isn’t really anything without them.


Lots of people came and went over the course of this past year, but these are some of the folks I’d consider more “regulars attenders” than most. Be sure to check them out, they’re really neat individuals.

In no particular order:

Lessons Learned

A few things I’ve observed:

  • Consistency is key to relationship building. Even though there were only a few people who joined consistently every day, quite a lot of people who participated told me they liked knowing it was there and that they could join whenever they were able.
  • We never had a specific agenda or discussion topic. I’d usually let the conversation unfold organically. Sometimes the topics were deep and meaningful: are people inherently flawed? does God exist? where does morality come from? are NFTs a pyramid scheme? how are your relationships? Sometimes the topics were light and playful: what are you working on? what games are you playing? what are you cooking? what are you watching? what’s your favorite podcast? what’s annoying you right now? show us your pet! Some days we just talked about our various businesses and the puzzles we were working on.
  • It’s amazing the milestones that people in our group marked: ending a relationship, starting a new relationship, leaving a job, starting a new job, starting a new company, getting a new pet, buying a new house, finishing a difficult project, sporting new hairstyles! (Not to mention progress made toward still-yet-to-be-achieved milestones.)
  • I firmly believe that much of the meaningfulness of this community can be chalked up to human beings caring about other human beings. People just wanted to have someone to talk to about their fears and concerns, someone to celebrate their victories with and share their pain, someone to ask about them when they’re not there. I’m very thankful for a group of people I was able to do that with.
  • There’s nothing better than deep conversation with a wildly varied group of perspectives: national, international, city, rural, progressive, conservative, and pretty much everything in between. I feel like a more thoughtful person because of the conversations I’ve had there.
  • Serendipitous discovery was through the roof. Every call produced a list of 15-20 fantastic links for exploring.
  • To that end, having a place to interact outside the daily coworking calls also helped grow the community. We used Discord for all sorts of asynchronous conversations: capturing interesting links from our calls, sharing projects, sending direct messages, etc.
  • I was able to largely avoid Zoom-bombers by initiating a waiting room and using social media as proof of verification. At first, I’d let anyone in — I even had some really interesting conversations with people who intended to bomb the call. But after a couple of pretty terrible interactions (one verbally attacked someone in the room, another shared some violent child pornography), I decided to make this a safe space for community members and be far more judicious about letting people in. If someone joined whose name I didn’t recognize, I’d message them and ask them to DM me on Twitter or Facebook. This virtually eliminated Zoom-bombers.

Inside Jokes & Good Memories

It’s hard to pick out all the meaningful memories from 300+ hours of conversations, but here are a few good memories, quips, and inside jokes to leave you with:

  • Hat days.
  • At Christmas, we had a really fun tea/coffee exchange. Thanks to Tatiana for coordinating that.
  • Drawing prompts.
  • Among Us.
  • “Aristotle was like ‘let’s boogaloo everybody!’”
  • “It’s not an actual hellscape.”
  • “Babies aren’t going to get arrested by the FBI.”
  • “If you die in Canada, do you die in real life?”
  • “Yeet the rich.”
  • “I am neither involved in the logging industry run by giants or the conjugal services related thereto.”

Cowrok calls happen Monday – Friday from 10a-11:30a ET. All are welcome. Follow @plasticmind to get notified when a new session starts.