We are witnessing a profound transformation within our work culture.
Approximately 33% of working Americans have ditched their day jobs to become self-employed. They likely created some sort of side hustle they worked overtime to develop, and when the time was right, they left their traditional jobs to pursue this vision.
It’s usually at this point that they begin to work remotely, cultivating a sense of personal freedom and responsibility unhindered by the demands of a boss or strict schedule. This could be a risky and stressful endeavor for many, but could also serve as a liberating and generative pursuit resulting in earning more money than you were making previously, with a side effect of feeling much more empowered and aligned with purpose.
Entrepreneurs are the nodes in an emerging planetary axis of some sort. In many respects, they are accelerating the transition out of late stage capitalism and into something more inventive and economically viable.
However, as eager as people are to roll out of their cubicles to escape the daily grind, the ones that actually do become self-employed have been finding themselves increasingly alone. In fact, 40% of self-employed people experience a sense of loneliness and isolation (1). As nice as it sounds to work from the comforts of your home and not have to get dressed up and go to the office every day, it can often come at a cost to our need for community and real human connection. As environmental writer George Monibot puts it, “profound changes in technology, work, and community are transforming our ultrasocial species into a population of loners.” (2).
Despite our ever-expanding capacities for global, instantaneous communication and the advent of social media becoming as prolific as it is, we are actually left feeling more disconnected than we ever have before. As our lives become more and more dependent on digital communications, we might be sensing that there is something missing from our ability to authentically relate to and connect with ourselves, each other and the living, sensate world. What, you might ask, might be the remedy for such a condition?
Enter: The modern day co-working space.
Co-working spaces can be defined as shared work environments where people that are self-employed can network, grow their own supportive communities, and collaborate with one another. Increasingly, co-working spaces have also become wellness centers, places where mind-body practices are being offered to members as tools to integrate into their work day. This particular component makes co-working a radical, ever-evolving social phenomenon that is upgrading consciousness. Through incorporating practices like meditation into co-working communities, people are accessing a deeper center of gravity and value within themselves that isn’t dictated by productivity alone.
I see the prolific rise of the co-working space as speaking to an even deeper anecdote, one that points to the human need for community, connection, autonomy, and the type of nourishment that late stage capitalism just doesn’t offer.
And the number of people using these spaces is on the rise. There are approximately 21,300 co-working spaces in the world today. The number of co-working members is predicted to rise to 3.8 million by 2020 and 5.1 million by 2022 (3). These statistics prove our work culture is actively reinventing itself and there is a New American Dream that is emerging.
I see the new work ethos emerging in places like The Assemblage in New York City. The Assemblage is a newly designed progressive co-working and co-living space that is redefining how wellness and work can co-exist. Members of The Assemblage have access to daily sound meditations, yoga and breath work classes, tea ceremonies, Ayurvedic inspired, organic food, handcrafted, botanical elixirs, and programs that enrich and deepen the shared experience of community culture.
The Assemblage is designed with nature in mind. Inspired by the concept of Biophilia, a term biologist E.O. Wilson describes as “the connections that human beings subconsciously seek with the rest of life.” As such, The Assemblage is adorned with mossy corridors, hanging vines, plants on every floor and in every corner, rooftop gardens, and plenty of open spaces. This is a living laboratory in a dense urban mecca with a strong emphasis on the fact that we, as human beings, are intrinsically connected to the biological fabric of the world, and that our work culture benefits from embracing and celebrating this relationship in everything that we do.
After all, ecosystems are nature’s original co-working spaces, containing vast networks of information and resource sharing, mycorrhizal highways that connect tree to mineral to flora to fungi. One could even argue that Nature herself is an entrepreneur, continually adapting to change and employing novelty for the sake of survival and evolution. Our impetus as humans to even gather in co-working communities speaks to our need to recapitulate nature’s original blueprint and create fascinating forms of symbiosis and collaboration with one other.
Co-working in nature
What if, as though stepping into a dream, you could arrive in a co-working environment deep in the heart of nature that offered mind-body practices and a chance to form lifelong friendships and networking opportunities? Well, I was recently invited to partake in such an experience, and I am eager to share it with you here.
I offer NuMundo’s first ever co-living and co-working immersion. Situated in the lush Costa Rican rainforest, this ten-day retreat is an opportunity to authentically reconnect to yourself, a beautiful community of like-minded others, and the radical aliveness of nature.
There will be solid wi-fi access and intentional open time to dive deep into your work, as well as plenty of opportunities to take time away from the screen to explore embodiment, mindfulness, the human-nature connection, and authentic relating to others. This is a portal for any entrepreneur or those looking for a chance to develop their passion project and connect with an inspirational group of change makers.
Each day, there will be group activities such as ecstatic dance, yoga, meditation, sensory nature experiences, swimming, hiking, collaborative mastermind sessions, and touring of permaculture orchards as fun ways to engage with the community and the land that contains us. Additionally, there will be three local, nourishing meals offered daily to feed our brains and bodies as we activate and cultivate our deepest dreams and desires together.
Working in natural settings such as the one the NuLiving Experience is offering is healthier for us on a number of levels and can lend itself to greater productivity and inner balance. It can set a tone for a regenerative ethos within our work ethic, one that isn’t plagued by isolation and burnout.
We now know that mindfulness practices such as meditation can increase neural plasticity in our brains, regulate every physiological system inside of our bodies, and enhance mood and cognitive function. These practices, coupled with the ever present muse that is the biodiverse rainforest of Costa Rica being available to all of our senses at all times as a restorative ally, will only serve to unlock and deepen our drive and purpose within and beyond the scope of our work in the world.
I believe co-working in nature is the way of the future. That this kind of orientation can expand our creative capacities as a species and open up new evolutionary trajectories in our imaginations. At the macro level, one can dream about optimizing the economy by building social networks and co-working opportunities that harness our creative and collaborative potential.
We recognize the accessibility of healthy food and herbal medicine not as a privilege but as a birthright for becoming physiologically and emotionally resilient in a culture that has become increasingly toxic and psychologically overwhelming. In the cult of productivity that characterizes so much of our collective work ethos, our ecosystems and our nervous systems alike both suffer and require remediation and restoration. Taking time in nature to recalibrate and connect with a supportive community can be deeply regenerative to the mind, body, and psyche. It can feed our dreams on a deep subconscious level which can then allow them to ripen with an unshakable sense of clarity.
Perhaps the only way that we are going to muster up the kind of creative solutions that are needed to address the complexities of climate change and the various economic imbalances that play a major role in perpetuating social injustice, is through working with and seeking to understand the natural environment. When the economy can achieve an integrative approach to reconstructing its foundation to include respect, inclusion, and stewardship for the living biological systems that it depends on, it will have found its true home within the greater ecology that it belongs to.
We need tremendous innovation in these times of crisis and uncertainty. The tangled mess of issues that we face as a species are really opportunities to explore radically changing our trajectory through collaboration, the fostering of heartfelt community, and the awakening of our inner genius. As planetary entrepreneurs, often imbued with awareness and privilege, this opportunity awaits us. Let’s transform work into play and competition into collaboration. Come and be a change maker and embark on a life-changing journey of reclaiming your deepest passions and reconnecting to what it means to be human.
- Home Alone? Dealing with the Solitude of Self-Employment – Anne Cassidy – The Guardian. May 2017. https://www.theguardian.com/small-business-network/2017/may/10/home-alone-drealing-with-the-solitude-of-self-employment
- The Age of Loneliness Is Killing Us – George Monbiot – The Guardian. Oct 2014. https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/oct/14/age-of-loneliness-killing-us
- Assemblage – Collaboration for the Future of Humanity – www.theassemblage.com/.
- 2018 Global Coworking Forecast http://gcuc.co/2018-global-coworking-forecast-30432-spaces-5-1-million-members-2022/
- NuMundo – Discover Transformational Experiences – https://numundo.org/