The sharing economy is a new way of living in which access is valued over ownership, experience is valued over material possessions, and "mine" becomes “ours” so everyone's needs are met without waste.

This new paradigm means that spaces and services become more temporary: they "pop-up" to meet a need or facilitate a community, and fade away or change forms when the need has been filled.

We've already explored ways that the coworking movement has capitalized on the pop-up concept to introduce mobile professionals to this new style of collaborative work.

Now, here are some tips for creating your own pop-up coworking space!

Location, Location, Permission – The best pop-up spaces are those located in heavily trafficked areas or permanent spots that are ideal for members of the mobile workforce.  

Past pop-up coworking spaces include museums, art galleries, parks, vacant store fronts, clothing stores, book stores, airports, conferences, farmers' markets, and even RVs. Just remember is that pop-up does not equal flash-mob.

Make sure you inform property owners of your desire to host a coworking gathering and get their express permission. Even if the space is public, like a park or city square, you probably still need permission to occupy it. Keep in mind that collaborating in this way is the first step toward building a permanent community!

Power/Internet/Furniture – Once you've got a space locked down, it's time to think about making it as comfortable as possible for those who participate. If you're working with a private space, ask the owner or landlord about using existing power supplies, internet, furniture and electronics.

If it's a vacant or outdoor space, you'll need to make sure power and Wifi is available. This can be achieved by pooling together personal hot spots, or asking a local internet provider to sponsor the event.

One you've got the necessary power and connectivity, think about visiting a local thrift store or browsing Craig's List for free tables and chairs. If you're confident in your core community, ask people to bring spare tables and chairs, or connect with a local business that might donate some furniture in exchange for a chance to increase awareness about their newest products.

Handle The Hype – OK, now you've got the space and something to sit on… It's time to focus on getting people interested! Pop-up stores are wildly successful because they represent a chance to interact with something brand new or exclusive. There are lots of ways to build hype about your pop-up coworking space, especially through social media.

  • Share tiny clues about the location each day leading up until the opening.
  • Make it an invite-only event.
  • Make it exclusive for freelancers for one or two industries.
  • Promise the presence of local celebrities.
  • Inform the press.
  • Offer coffee, beer, food or the chance to win something.
  • Emphasize the chance to meet, network, and collaborate with other local freelancers and small business owners.

What if your community already has coworking? 

Pop-up coworking is a versitile event . It can be used to generate awareness in a community that lacks a coworking space, or to demonstrate the casual nature of coworking in a community that already has one or more spaces. Some have used  a pop-up event to gague community interest in coworking before making plans to open a more permanent space, or as an overflow option when the current space is full.

How long should it last?

The beauty of pop-up spaces is that they don't have to last forever, and you shouldn't force them to become permanent. Best practices say that anything from a weekend to 2 weeks is plenty of time at a single location. Remember, the whole point is to leave them wanting more! If you're planning to pop-up again in a new location, make sure attendees know to watch for more clues about where and when it will be.

What if the pop-up coworking space is a big success?

If lots of people show up for your pop-up event and you get the feeling that they don't want it to go away, think about moving into the more structured but still-casual Jelly format.

Related Reading:

  • Grubly: The Network of Pop-Up Restaurants
  • New York Subway Pop-Up Bistro [Video] 
Beth Buczynski


Beth Buczynski

Beth is a freelance writer and editor living in beautiful Colorado. She loves sharing so much, she wrote a book about it. "Sharing Is Good" is a practical guide

Things I share: Transportation (I love my bike!) Office space (yay coworking!) Money (Credit Unions do it better!)