A Brooklyn-based company is changing the culture of coworking spaces to something many people would not expect in a crowded and bustling office environment. Coworking spaces exist all over the country; they offer a safe and focused area for people to work collaboratively or independently, or for startups to simply have an office space. Although they are becoming increasingly popular, few cater to older adults. The nonprofit Older Adults Technology Services (OATS) has opened Senior Planet Exploration Centers. These are coworking spaces and learning centers open to people 60 and better, with the goal of connecting the digital divide and moving older adults forward in their business skills.
There are Senior Planet Exploration Centers in six states that have given 43,000 class sessions over the past 15 years, with plans to go international. These centers meet different needs; they can help older adults learn to use an iPad or introduce them to online banking, or people can use them to launch their own business endeavors. Fast Company reports on Carlos Lewis, 73, who came to one center without knowing how to type and is now building a website for his startup.
Tom Kamber, OATS director, wants to change the narrative that older adults are not useful in the workforce, and he believes a good first step is creating environments where older adults are free of micro-aggressions and can be more productive.
While OATS earns its revenue solely on donations and sponsorships, , Kamber believes the concept of coworking spaces for older adults can eventually expand to the for-profit world, where companies could be successful by changing the ageist narrative to aging as an idea of continuity within a person.
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Meyer A. “See Inside a Coworking Space for Seniors.” Fast Company. May 10, 2019. https://www.fastcompany.com/90344172/see-inside-a-coworking-space-for-seniors. Accessed June 4, 2019.