The Hypothesis: Independent professionals who share a flexible environment work better together than they do alone.
The Concept: For a monthly fee, members get access to a furnished workspace, WiFi, printers, a kitchen, and most importantly, each other. Liberated from the distractions of the home office and the anonymity of the “cafe” workspace, coworkers wanted to build community.
The experiment quickly proved successful and evolved into an international movement. Today there are more than 3,000 coworking spaces around the world, and Oakland has a handful of its own unique coworking spaces that reflect the city’s culture and new economy.
As you reach the top of the stairs on the second floor of 1721 Broadway a black Statue of Liberty holding a light-up lamp for a torch greets you. “We’re proud to have her here welcoming our guests to Oakstop,” says Trevor Parham, the founder and director of what he describes as a workplace destination for creativity.
Located in the heart of the city’s arts district, Oakstop packs a bit of everything into its 6,000 square feet of coworking space. Designers and videographers sit side by side in a large, open room. Four private offices (soon to be expanded to 10) house an animation company, a life coach, a watercolor artist, and, until the election is over, Oakland’s United Democratic Campaign. A multi-purpose room is exactly that: a place for meetings, photo and video shoots, and recordings, and across the hall is an exhibition gallery that doubles as an event space in the evenings and a spiritual group meeting spot on Sunday mornings.
Collaboration is evident everywhere. On this day, a young guitarist uses the gallery to record a new song with the help of an audio technician who produces a podcast in the same space. The kitchen is stocked with free tea, coffee, and cupcakes from local food manufacturers—they get exposure, and Oakstop’s workers get free snacks. “The space is structured to be inclusive for artists and entrepreneurs who are trying to break in. This is a big part of our mission,” says Parham.