Working Independently, Together
To find out more about coworking opportunities and trends in Australia, Bisner spoke to Rhonda and Tim, the cofounders of Cohoots, a coworking space located in rural Victoria. This place offers more than desks and fast wifi. Opened in 2014, Cohoots provides its members an authentic community atmosphere at their location in Castlemaine.
Since they opened their business, one of their top priorities has been figuring out the actual needs of their community members. By doing this they are able to know about their strengths and expertise that other members may be able to benefit from. This often eliminates the need to bring in external experts, as often a local community already consists of a lot of talented people who are able to learn from each other and share with each other.
With coworking becoming more prominent in rural areas, Cohoots challenges some of the more traditional ways of running businesses. Today, they have 30 hugely diverse part-time members who are all connected and sometimes even share each other’s resources. For example, one of their members wanted to promote her services online. However, she didn’t know social media very well so she collaborated with a fellow Cohoots member who made a short promotional video of her and her offerings. Overall, there has been a number of similar collaborative projects that have evolved within their community, which is quite exceptional, given its rather small size.
“People walk in and feel at home straight away. They don’t feel like they are coming into an office, they feel like they’re coming into Cohoots.” — Tim Ford, the cofounder of Cohoots
To make their space more of a community hub, Rhonda and Tim also host events to further connect people and their knowledge, resulting in an active collaboration amongst everyone. One of their main events are the “Women in Cohoots Nights.” The first time it was held it was attended by 25 people and initially was supposed to be only a one-time event, but due to positive feedback of attendees it is now held on a regular basis and has its own Facebook group. Events are often targeted at the entire local community, not just at members which further increases people’s awareness of the coworking space.
In addition, Cohoots has hosted other events such as one with the Foundations of Young Australians exploring skills for the future of work, workshops, pop-up exhibitions during the local arts festival, and webinars.
“Cohoots seems more like a small family.” — Rhonda Chapman, the cofounder of Cohoots
Cohoots’ two owners also started connecting with other coworking spaces in rural and metropolitan Australia, including a coworking leaders group in Melbourne initiated by a Bisner user. They also recently went to Bali, Indonesia and connected with Hubud, a coworking space that is also a Bisner client. By doing this they create a community also outside their space, fostering relationships throughout the world.
A community can only strive if a well thought through infrastructure is provided, tailored to the specific needs of all members. This is what Cohoots offers their coworkers — an authentic atmosphere in which their members are able to thrive!