02/05/2018 Jamie

More Than a Desk: Community

What is Community?

Community is a word that we hear a lot, but often we don’t fully understand what it means or its importance in our lives. So, what is community, and why is it so important to have community in a coworking space? Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a community as “an interacting population of various kinds of individuals in a common location.” One word that stands out in this definition is “interaction.” When you have a group of people from various backgrounds who are truly interacting with one another and seeking mutual understanding and friendship, it creates a dynamic workplace.

Everyone has been designed to live in community. Even the most introverted person, like myself, benefits from spending time with people who are trying to reach their personal and professional goals. One major benefit of a coworking community is the discipline that comes from seeing others work hard to accomplish their goals. Seeing this discipline provides indirect and informal accountability. It also provides a level of motivation that cannot be duplicated at home or in a café.

In addition to this, a coworking space provides an opportunity to collaborate on projects with other people. The unique perspectives from other members of the space can help people to look at something from a different point of view.

How is Community Formed?

Community is not formed by simply having an open space for people to socialize and gather together. While it is essential to have a balance of personal desks as well as open areas for building relationships, this is not enough. Community is formed when people take the initiative to reach out and build relationships with their fellow coworkers. It is incredibly important for the owners of a coworking space to take the first step in forming the foundations of a community. This can be done by inviting people out to lunch, giving new workers recommendations on what to do around the city, and creating an inviting atmosphere.

When an environment is welcoming, people are more likely to gather together in shared spaces to socialize over a cup of coffee. After this foundation is laid in a coworking space, it is important to keep building upon it to ensure that new members feel welcome and included. One way to build upon this foundation is to offer social events outside of work hours. This can be done by holding a pizza and movie night to provide a platform for individuals to get to know one another better outside of the work environment.

Every day I have seen community demonstrated in the speech and actions of coworkers at Beta Bar. Whenever people take a break from work to share jokes with one another, we find out more about each other’s personality and bond through lots of laughter. Whenever people bring in food to share at the workspace, we are able to connect over a meal and learn more about people’s culture. Whenever people invite each other out to coffee after work, we deepen our relationship past the surface and create an opportunity to learn more about people’s life story.

A coworking community should be a place where people can go learn, grow, and have fun together. When people have ample opportunities to interact with one another, it creates an inviting atmosphere where people truly feel that they are part of something bigger than themselves. A coworking community isn’t formed overnight. It takes time, but the benefits that flow from working and interacting with like-minded people in a coworking community are numerous.