Let’s Keep Politics Out Of It: How to Keep a Positive Work Environment During Times of Tension

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Yesterday’s US Presidential election results came as a surprise for many.

This year’s campaign has been a subject of controversy and debate. Both candidates were highly criticized by the media and the mood in both in the online world and physical environments  has been one of discontent and frustration.

Following the Presidential debates, many believed Clinton would be the clear winner. Alas, the media projections were off and Trump had the trump card. Trump’s win came as a shock for some and many have already voiced their frustration and discontent online.

Quite often,  our mood is affected by situations that are out of our control. This has an effect on our personal and professional lives. Flexible workspace community managers need to be prepared to handle these situations, they need to be able to keep a positive and productive work environment even when their members are feeling frustrated, or on the flip side, when they are feeling jubilant. Either way, it can disrupt others and create imbalance in an otherwise functioning community.

It’s important to keep things under control to prevent workspace hostility and debate.

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So, how can community and workplace managers handle the times when the mood of their workspace is affected by a situation outside of their control (like the results of the US election)?

Expert Tips and Suggestions

“Listen to people, let them be heard. But also remind them to stay positive and encourage them to focus on their work and being productive.” – Liz Elam, Link Coworking

Jerome Chang from BLANKSPACES, on the other hand, believes that “community managers and members should talk politics on the side, but not in the open. But above all, they should respect other’s voting decisions.”

Ashley Proctor from Creative Bluebrint suggests a different and more open approach. 

“Coworking community managers are in a perfect position to facilitate conversations that allow people to process their feelings in a healthy way.

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A coworking community is a natural place to turn for support from friends and peers, and I hope many Americans will use their spaces to do just that today.

In a collaborative workspace we are used to interacting with a variety of people with different interests and values and ideas, and today should be no different.

When we walk in the door, we agree to respectfully make space for every other person, and today we need to do that with even more intention in our workplaces and in our communities. Community managers can help members navigate the fallout of yesterday’s election, they can encourage members to listen to each other and use this network of support to help process what they are all feeling today.

A healthy coworking community is based on love and respect and support for each other as we pursue our own ideas and passions.

A healthy coworking community will support members as they mourn or celebrate, as they process, and as they organize to effect change.

A community manager’s role is to listen to their members and help them navigate challenges as they arise, not to fix the problems themselves.”

Frank Cottle from The Alliance Business Centers Network (ABCN) said:

“I think that just having an extra social activity or two, so people can express their frustration or joy as a community is a good way to go.” However, Cottle also believes that”sometimes, it’s best to just do nothing, or something very small, rather than draw attention to a situation where there is a very mixed feeling.”

In this case, the elections, he says: “The Presidential election was roughly about 50/50 split, so it’s only safe to assume that workspace members might be split the same way… and each workspace is different.”

In the end, community managers are the ones that best know their workspace members; they’re the ones that will have the best idea on how to approach them and the situation as a whole.