Destination Freedom – Inspired By Life, Enabled By Technology

In recent research into the rise of co-working, I have come across a number of 21st century workplace alternatives like coworktheworld.com, remoteyear.com and coboat.org.

These clearly highlight the office-agnostic side of work, but point at the importance of being part of a trusted group or community and the potential to achieve convergence of circles (like earning an income and experiencing cultures).

Although absolutely fascinating, I quickly realised that my life does not quite allow for this level of autonomy and self-direction yet. Nevertheless, after nearly a decade in the corporate environment, 2016 has become my year of change.

The decision to step outside the linear career path was a risky one.  Proactively leaving behind the golden enclosure of presumed security, associated with large organisations at a time of economic and geo-political turmoil, might appear to many as an act of sheer insanity.

Neither a lottery millionaire nor forced out the door through redundancy, it was a voluntary act to join the ever-growing contingent of hyphenates - people who are active in more than one sphere or occupation.

To an extent, the decision was certainly driven by curiosity of the unknown and a quest to figure out if I can find a place in a jungle presumably reserved for hipsters, youngsters, unicorns and techies.

But the main deciding factor was the gap that was widening between my personal aspiration and the (almost robot like) life I was leading. When my life circumstance changed very suddenly almost 3 years ago, I made a list of 5 big goals for the remainder of my time on this planet.

I had made significant progress on the personal side, but intermittently re-assessing my professional aspirations, I realised I was not really there yet.  Here is what I had Evernote-ed on a small Greek island:

“Start a team/organisation/initiative that is guided by joint values and purpose. Build the capability to measure success differently. Set objectives that matter to me personally and contribute positively to a wider goal. Become part of a team that is inspiring, self-motivated and a recognised example for others. Continuously attract external collaborators and innovators. Continue learning at all times.”

Don’t get me wrong. I have worked in a number of truly great organisations, with amazing people. But somehow I could never quite shake off that feeling of not being fully aligned. The person at work was increasingly becoming a stranger to the real me.

For many years I had self-diagnosed a degree of the ‘imposter syndrome’, trying very hard to adapt, so I would feel less like a ‘company culture immigrant’ or a ‘value set minority’.

Having talked about the future of work and its implications on people, place and performance passionately over many years it was time to walk the talk on a new level and step out of what I considered an obsolete model.  

But as my personal mission statement highlights, I have always strongly depended on the power of a diverse team and the creativity arising from different perspectives.

So simply setting up a one-woman-show in workplace consulting was never really an option. Too narrow, too isolated and no sense of belonging. This was the start of the Workcollectiv.

It’s like ‘Coworking The World’ minus airport security or ‘coboat’ without sea sickness. An extension of the philosophy of coworking, less dependent on a physical location and more focused on building a unique community of collaborators, influencers and practitioners with a broad variety of expertise.

Like on the boat or the remote work journey, every member takes responsibility for their income, but as a group we can support each other, share ideas, test technology, contribute to research and form rapid, bespoke teams that work together on complex projects.   

As with parenthood, there is never a perfect time to execute life-changing decisions. But for me the excitement to try something different has been bigger than the fear of failure. After all, life is one endless beta-test, if we are truly honest. So if not now, when?