Today, the EA Workspace (EAW) launches: a co-working space for aspiring effective altruists from all around the world. In short, the EAW is a 24/7 web-chat with optional video streaming where people work alongside each other in pomodoros and chat during the breaks. Malcolm and I have been working on the project during the last months and you may have heard about it under its previous working title, the “EA Study Hall”.
Why use the EAW?
Increase your productivity. Many people find it easier to work in a group, even if everyone is working on their own task. The pomodoros will help you get into a regular work/break rhythm, so the social norm is to work when everyone else does. This will also remind you to take regular breaks to recharge. The integrated pomodoro-counter makes it easy to track how much you’ve worked on a task, and you’re explicitly encouraged to celebrate your accomplishments during breaks. Setting up commitments within the hall is easy - e.g. announce your working goal for the next pomo or agree with another user to meet on the hall at a specified time. Even more ambitious users may also find it helpful to use a program to broadcast their screen for everyone to see, or to have other users hold them accountable if they don’t meet a certain goal within a given time span (like 20 pomodoros over a weekend).
Make and keep connections. Many of us have full schedules and Skype calls to uphold friendships pose a real cost on time and flexibility and can be a pain to arrange. Keeping in touch via the EAW is easy - you’re bound to bump into each every once in a while if you work at similar times. It doesn’t cost you any additional time since you were having a break anyways, and you can make progress on your projects in the meantime. Win-win!
Most people you will meet on the chat however will be new to you, so you’re constantly getting to expand your circle of EA acquaintances, especially if you don’t know many people within the movement yet. Some of these people will become your friends over time as well, and perhaps you’ll even find some people close enough to visit.
Based on experiences with the forerunner to the EAW, the LessWrong Study Hall, the social aspect that this space offers is easily overlooked and underestimated. Many people who decided to join the Study Hall mostly to increase productivity have stayed because of the warm and welcoming atmosphere and the friendships they formed during their stay there. We made this space because we believe the EA community will benefit greatly from having a similar place to, yes, work, but also socialize and create bonds.
Participate in the EA community. Learn which new or ongoing EA projects are out there, and get to know the people who are working on them. Or meet the people with whom you are working on a project. Or perhaps, join someone else with their project or find others to help you with yours. This is a space for coordination just as much as a space to get work done. That said, you can work on absolutely anything you’d like while being on the EAW - it doesn’t have to “be EA”.
Another thing is sharing resources: Don’t hesitate to pick your fellow coworkers’ brains during the breaks! Often you might find it useful to ask for feedback or advice where you’re stuck, do rubber ducking or simply ask for some empathy for your struggles. Maybe they can point you to some of the many resources available to the EA community (e.g. for a presentation), connect you with someone you should meet or answer a question of yours.
How to get help
If you have any questions that aren’t covered in the FAQ, or something bothers you about the chat, you can talk to our moderators, who will hang out in the EAW to make your life better. Moderators have a star next to their name, so they're easy to spot. For all other questions, comments or feedback email Anne at anne (dot) wissemann (at) gmail (dot) com.
In short: Meet aspiring EAs from all over the world, whenever you want, while getting work done.
Sounds good? Try it out!
Malcolm & Anne