Coworking in Pyjamas by Cristina Santamarina
Observations & tips for coworking spaces from Cristina a digital nomad
Hi everyone Alex here, Shhared founder 👍🏽
This blog post is brought to you by Cristina Santamarina. A friend, founder, digital nomad and coworking enthusiast. She is passionate about bridging the gap between tech and humans, which always leads us into great conversations.
Coworking in pyjamas is a collection of her thoughts, observations and tips written for coworking leaders who want to serve her and people like her better. Enjoy her piece and let us know what your thoughts are in the comments below.
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Community Plans for coworkers in pyjamas
I love coworking. For the last six years I have been active in the movement as a supplier, an advocate and a user. Coworking brought me friends, gigs, long term jobs, roommates and new skills. I’m thankful that coworking communities and spaces exist and I tell everyone about them as soon as I have a chance.
If you run a coworking community you probably love coworking as well, or at least think it’s the best option for professionals who don’t need to work from a specific location. Like me, you probably tell everyone around you about coworking. You may have even spoken about it in local events or conferences.
If you struggle with attendance and retention of your members what I am going to tell you next may be insightful. My love for coworking is not incompatible with my love for my pyjamas. What can you do, as a coworking community manager, to help people like me live with our love for coworking and pyjamas? Two things that seem so far from each other? The answer is not in a ‘Work in Pyjamas Day’. Let’s turn to empathy and the coworking values instead!
The Pyjama Effect
There are many reasons why coworking rocks, but have you tried understanding why people love pyjamas? In my personal case it’s a mix of my experience and my work type.
With my first employer, Regus, I spent five years in offices. I remember sitting in an open space and listening to people on the phone while I tried to concentrate on my xls reports, the long commutes in the morning, the dress code.
Later on I moved to Berlin where things were a lot more relaxed. I worked from home sometimes, from co-up (the coworking space the Cobot team run) or from client’s offices. There were long commutes, but no more dress codes or phone conversations. Except for me, taking calls from the stairs to avoid annoying my colleagues.
After a few months in Africa, where I had long work days and a small office I shared with my team, I took some time off to travel. I spent a month coworking in Montevideo, where I felt super productive and created the seed of my project bots4health, after which I moved back to Spain and got a remote job with Reply.ai. This meant multitasking, calls, weird schedules but also walks for inspiration. I was back to the drawing board, with my pyjama shorts and very far away from the water-cooler.
Let me tell you something that may make you feel better: In some cases it is not the spaces, it is really the coworkers. Sometimes coworking is a fit for people but people are not a fit for coworking spaces. Professionals who need to take a lot of loud calls, receive many clients in person, prefer to work at night or just need to walk around all day to get inspired, traditionally may have been stay-at-home suspects.
Some other coworkers are a fit for coworking but have a hard time leaving the house. It’s an old coworking saying: the enemy is the home office. It’s not cafés your members are running to, and most times it’s not another local coworking space. Some of your members will stay at home once, and then twice a week. Little by little you’ll stop wondering where they are until one day they cancel their membership, and start dropping by only for community events.
Coworking Values vs The Pyjama Effect
These two types of coworkers are manifestations of The Pyjama Effect and need to be addressed through the filter of the Coworking Values. Accessibility and Sustainability apply nicely to this issue.
Coworking communities are made of people with different backgrounds, lifestyles, and needs. These people also have a different degree of attendance to your space. Most coworking communities are a mix of full time and part time members. This is a manifestation of the Accessibility value, giving options to people with different circumstances to join the Community as it fits best.
As coworking ages, though, I have realised there is a third coworker type: the Absent Coworker. He or she may be working for a client in a traditional office or a different coworking space in your city. He or she may have moved abroad or be affected by the pyjama effect. Some coworkers, believe it or not, even start families and take paternity leaves. The Absent Coworker may not be present, but is a coworker that wants to belong. As your member’s professional and personal situations change, how can you make coworking Sustainable for them — and for you?
Coworking Community Plans
One way in which you can decouple belonging and presence, engage those who can’t (or just won’t) commit to a regular presence, and grow your community is to offer a Community Plan. Community Plans are all about belonging and very little about being around, which makes them not only great for your absent coworkers, but also a way to generate a recurring revenue with practically no associated costs.
Some of your coworkers may already have a Community Plan without knowing it! Cosfera, my local coworking space in Córdoba, has a cheap plan with a few hours of use of the space I keep as a way to support the community. The times in which I am present in the space are not many, but I am part of the telegram groups, greet coworkers in the street with genuine enthusiasm and participate in the events I find interesting — including the festive ones.
Like me a lot of people won’t commit to a full time coworking plan and may not be around for a coffee every week, but if you’ve been doing your homework you know you have a community component that’s also worth a monthly fee. Make sure you offer value in return! Make sure anyone supporting you and not being present are aware of all the events you organise, are invited to contribute to your crowdfunding campaigns and are part of the online conversations.
Potential users of Community Plans are old coworkers, people who run events on your space, suppliers, sponsors or just people who talk too much on the phone or work late at night.
Attract them with your Openness, retain them with your Sustainability
We are trying to change the way people work, make it more an activity and less a place. Your coworking space has a lot of potential for being more than seats and desks and nice posters on the walls. Not everyone walking in your space will want to sit there from 9 to 5, but most (or at least the ones you really should want to keep) are there to join a community. Keep an open mind, accept that not everyone is ready to be an extrovert and be ready to offer your coworkers different ways to belong to your community.
Two questions for you as a reader…
What’s your experience with part time members and absent coworkers?
What are some other ways in which you make them feel they belong?
Thanks for reading and hope to connect with you shortly.
Bye from Cristina & Alex. Feel free to share this article https://goo.gl/JpbFjS
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PS Having more original and interesting insights on coworking is vital. Space operators and experts are more than welcome to get in touch and contribute to this publication. Just reach out and tell me what you can do.