I have been blessed to have had some incredibly powerful and important moments of my life supported by wonderful coworking and shared workspace communities that were nurtured by the management, the coworkers, and overall workplace environment.
For better or worse though, change is inevitable. What was once good, can turn bad and what was bad, can turn into good.
So when does a workspace no longer fit a member and why does it happen?
Whether it is management changes, member turnover, or even a change of location or amenities, I find that there is a delicate balance to many places for each person.
The most sensitive aspects of a space as I see it are the following:
- Owners, operators, or managers
- Community members
- Fundamentals (Amenities, Design, Location, Price)
Change is not a bad thing. However, if anything changes that negatively affects the way I interact with a space and the people in it, the more likely I am to make the decision to move.
Owners, Operators, or Managers can make or break a community.
I have seen this group of people completely hold a community together just by being themselves and by creating a consistent approach to culture, operations, and the way people interact in a space. However, I have also seen spaces where the owner or operator/manager runs an unreliable or chaotic experience where the coworkers can’t rely on anything that comes from management.
Another important aspect that is often overlooked is why someone is running a workspace. While it’s great to run a sustainable and successful business, the coworking movement is about community. If members of the space believe the owners or managers are in it for their own monetary sake, the community is likely to suffer; members are less likely to trust in those in charge, and this can be one of the most detrimental aspects of a space.
In regards to trust, it is important to point out the significance of matching your mission and words to what you are actually doing. All spaces should be extremely careful about what they sell, promise, and represent themselves.
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Most of the time, to gain your members’ trust, you have to be authentic. If you aren’t, members will know and will make changes with or without you.
There is usually a core group of workspace members that are the established community leaders.
These are the individuals that provide most of the energy, organization of outside events, expertise, or just general ‘funness’ to the space. If you have any people that are always talked to when they arrive and throughout the day, this is probably one of your core members. When any of these members leave a space, the community, culture, and vibe will be affected.
People make the space. Every coworker can make an impact, but the core group tends to make the biggest impact.
Change in amenities, design, location, or price–though they are easiest to prepare for, they can also be highly noticeable. Some people extremely sensitive to at least one of these elements, and whenever there are adjustments, there will almost always be a change in who works in a space.
This, however, is not necessarily a bad thing.
The evolution of a space, including changing these fundamentals, is important for the coworking and shared workspace industry to mature. It’s these changes that contribute to building stronger organizations with healthy balance sheets.
So if change isn’t such a bad thing, why is it that a workspace owner or manager should be concerned about change?
I think about it like a typical customer experience for a restaurant. A customer with a good experience tells one or two people. A customer with a bad experience tells ten people.
Though one space cannot be all things to all people, it’s important that you always offer the best service and, if changes need to be made, then you need to ease people into them; especially if they involve change in management or the community overall.
What else do you think affects the way coworkers experience a workspace? How can we improve the way we grow and improve so as to not neglect the people that started with us in the beginning?