What better time of year to focus on the goodwill that makes for human closeness and connection?  Valuing individuals and interactions as we Agilists do, it’s the stuff we work to create.

I spent a day at my cowork space last week.  Not even a whole day, just stopped in to punctuate a stretch of meetings and deadlines.  It was enough to bring home the mystery of the season and the beauty of a coworking environment.


Picture receiving four hugs in the space of an hour and a half.  Real hugs, not those wimpy one-arm backpats.  All were for different reasons.

The first was from a coworker who had recommended me on LinkedIn.  He was energized to move that task into the “Done” column.  By his action and commitment I felt cared about and respected.  So, when we saw each other we hugged.

The second was in solidarity with a coworker overwhelmed by life and its multilayered demands.  We speak frequently and seem to take turns, as luck would have it, with our ups and downs.

That day his body language – the set of his shoulders and the tension in his jaw – spoke volumes.  We all want to give it up sometimes and go do something easier than this whole entrepreneurial shebang.

The kind of encouragement I wanted to give has no words.  No pep talk can motivate like a strong, caring hug.

The third involved a colleague visiting from another community to attend a workshop.  We are mostly facebook friends, so standing actual face to actual face was an unexpected pleasure.   After a split-second of decision-making in that awkward moment where you’re not sure if you’re going to hug or shake hands, we hugged.

The fourth was a welcome home.  I was standing near the reception area when a coworker I hadn’t seen in a while entered.  She and I have been open about personal challenges, heartaches and absurdities over lunch or coffee.  A lot had transpired in the interim, and we needed to catch up.   A long, friendly hug was the best place to start.

Like the holidays and the complex process of community-building, when it comes to hugs, receiving is also giving.  I am happy to be part of a workspace – as well as a global movement to improve the world of work – where such chance affection is not only allowed but commonplace.

For an international directory of cowork spaces, see www.sharedesk.net .