Building community is the top priority for the operators of the Workspace of the Future – a.k.a. Coworking 2.0.
Following is a guest post from Miryana Stancheva, the Community Manager at Work & Share.
The end of November was a big one for Work & Share! We went on a mission at the Coworking Europe Conference in Brussels which brings together more than 400 people from more than 50 countries each year – founders, community managers, researchers, entrepreneurs, enthusiasts, and thinkers. For 3 days this event creates a community of like-minded people who all together work on shaping the future of work.
During the conference, we met old and new friends from all over Europe and beyond. We heard many stories about the directions the coworking concept is moving, so now we are doing our best to integrate our impressions from the conference in the future development of Work & Share.
As a newly-formed core team, we are very cautious about what kind of influence we would have on our future community. Our wish is to be their “role model”. What does that mean exactly? you would ask.
Here is our explanation
Starting building a community from scratch means you have nothing but yourself and your colleagues. Your team is the heart of the coworking and you are the ones who are setting up the values, the culture and the types of interactions you would like to develop in your coworking community. The team dynamics you sustain in your team will influence the dynamics you’d observe in the community in the future. If there are unsolved or unspoken problems, conflicts and discrepancies in your team it is most likely the community to resonate with your team and to result in an unsustainable, defensive and mistrustful bunch of people who don’t feel interconnected.
Being conscious about those potential risks in the world of coworking we decided to address them to more experienced coworking professionals and to hear their opinion according to their, already existing, communities. So, during the second day of the Coworking Europe Conference, called an “unconference day”, we initiated and moderated a group discussion about the role which the coworking core team plays in the process of building and developing a community. Around 20 people (coworking founders and community managers) joined us and shared their first-hand experience.
Panel discussion wrap up
We can summarize that in a core coworking team it is important to have at least a simple flat structure with clearly divided roles, where trust, acceptance and transparent communication are main values, integrated by each and every team member. That would ease the working process and reduce the misunderstandings within the team.
When it’s up to interactions between the team and the community, many of the attendees pointed out they feel constantly interrupted by members’ requests and questions which cause a slowdown in their everyday routines and becomes a potential factor for developing a burnout syndrome in the future. As the main reason for that, they highlighted the role confusion (lack of information about, for example, who is the event master or who is the social media person) so they proposed a couple of solutions:
- firstly, to make it clear to the community who is doing what – what the core team structure is;
- secondly, to involve some of the community members in the operational processes of the space and make them feel engaged;
- thirdly, to keep the members informed about what is going on in the core team;
- fourthly, to clarify the expectations which the new members have since the very beginning;
- and last but not least, to keep and sustain the honesty, transparency, and openness between all the parties of the coworking process.
Since we already have all these insights, it will definitely make us more prepared for the upcoming challenges, will help us being more sensitive about potential concussions in our team and community and will aid us to cope with the difficulties in a constructive way.
By sharing with you the process that we are going through while becoming a coworking space and building a community, we would like to affirm once again how vital the openness and transparency are not only for us but also for every other coworking space.
Photo credits: Coworking Europe; Miryana Stancheva