Coworking spaces can rely on frameworks to build communities that enhance the personal and work lives of members. These platforms have been proven successful in individual companies from start-ups to mid-size businesses and in workspaces shared by multiple companies.
These platforms are built on six foundational principles. In two earlier posts, four of them were explored:
+ The value of Membership & Fulfillment of needs
+ The importance of Knowing one another & Shared experiences
The last two principles enhance the sense of community for all by giving members a shared identity and providing each one a voice regardless of their position within the community.
Boundaries: The geography of a coworking community
Boundaries give citizens a national identity, a mentality of being part of a united group of people. Over time, a heritage is developed through shared experiences that enhance personal and collective bonds. Such boundaries don’t have to be physical. They can be relational and emotional, created through shared values and ideals that surround a group of people working together in community. These “tribal” boundaries are strengthened by membership, knowing one another, sharing experiences, having needs met from within the community and an egalitarian sense that everyone is important and has something to contribute. How are boundaries developed within a company with a departmentalized structure? How are they fostered in a coworking community sharing workspace?
Your approach to creating the boundary of a shared identity should be multifaceted.
1. Foster members getting to know one another through personal profiles like those used in social media and a direct messaging service. Use them to introduce new members to the group too;
2. Build a searchable database that facilitates members connecting with those who are like-minded or have skills or experience they want to tap into;
3. Post a shared calendar of events that members can populate with social functions, seminars for personal development, shared community service projects or other meaningful gatherings;
4. Make it possible for members and member companies to improve cost-efficiency through shared office space, equipment, storage or even shared employees.
These are the tools that create boundaries around a group of people, boundaries that tie them together and foster shared experience, abilities, resources and ultimately shared success.
Influence: Everyone matters
When members of a community believe that they don’t have a voice, that their ideas are ignored or they have nothing to contribute, they are effectively disenfranchised. Most will leave the community or will stay only to be disgruntled and ineffective. It’s a recipe for poor morale within a company or coworking community.
However, research shows that the opposite is true as well. When members believe that they can influence the community through their ideas, abilities and contributions, the bonds holding them are strengthened. From there, synergy happens when each member contributes to create a robust, successful whole in which everyone benefits.
This is why supporting relationships and interaction is so vital to the establishment of a coworking community that thrives to the benefit of its members. When anyone, including the newest member or the lowest-ranking employee of a company, can provide value from “the bottom up” even to the top, you’ve got the seeds of dynamic professional success and personal fulfillment.
How is the opportunity to influence the community given to each member?
1. Make membership in the community attractive by promoting its many benefits such as finding new friends, working with people you enjoy, developing mastermind groups, creating business opportunities and cutting costs through sharing expenses.
2. Help members get to know each other, and put them in touch through the tools mentioned — profiles, messaging and a member database.
3. Promote initiative through giving each member the ability to create community-building, shared experiences by organizing events, adding them to the community calendar and inviting everyone in the coworking community to attend.
Next steps for your coworking community
While you could develop the tools to create boundaries and opportunities for influence, most won’t have time to reinvent the wheel. Explore existing community-building strategies like those we offer. When you find one that fits your coworking community values, promote it to your early adopters and encourage them to embrace and practice its principles. Dynamic benefits for all are sure to follow!
Check our blogposts about coworking and community building here.