Giving Your Flexible Workspace Community A Sense Of Purpose

From buying sustainably sourced coffee to reducing your environmental footprint, there are countless ways flexible workspace operators can implement social responsibility programs.
  • At GCUC 2018, Nate Heasley and Frank Cottle discussed social responsibility within the flexible workspace industry.
  • One way to give back is through the All Good Work Foundation, which connects charitable organizations with donated workspace.
  • From buying sustainably sourced coffee to reducing your environmental footprint, there are countless ways workspace operators can demonstrate social responsibility

“We always have extra space, just like a restaurant has leftover food when it closes at night.” – Frank Cottle, All Good Work Foundation

Last week at the Global Coworking Unconference Conference (GCUC) some attendees heard Nate Heasley and Frank Cottle talk about social responsibility within the flexible workspace industry. Both Heasley and Cottle are founders of The All Good Work Foundation, but during their panel, they spoke about how flexible workspace operators can (and should) implement a social responsibility program in their spaces.

There are various ways in which operators can incorporate social responsibility into their everyday operations; one of the most common across the industry is the donation of empty space to charitable and deserving organizations. But there are other ways in which operators can make an impact in their local communities, or even remote ones.

Giving your community a sense of purpose

Having a shared goal and vision helps bring people together, and social responsibility programs do exactly that: they bring people together, while also improving the lives of many.

During the panel Heasley, together with the attendees, brainstormed on different ways in which operators can give back to the community. He started by mentioning the current #MeToo movement.

“Do you have an anti-harassment policy on paper for your members? When you operate a space, you assume everyone that comes in is a good person, but you cannot forget that you are running an office, and you need to set standards on your community’s behavior; people need to understand what your community guidelines are.”

Something as simple as a clear, written policy can go a long way. When doing this, operators need to think about equity and racial issues as well, they need to look at how and where they are doing their hiring and the different roles that people play within a space.

A social responsibility program can be: “for your workspace to reflect the neighborhood where it is located. You need to carefully consider the neighborhood you are in and the outreach that you are doing; instead of relying on online portals to do the hiring, you should look to the local community to find potential team members.”

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    Take New York’s market for example. “Centers are moving beyond the traditional downtown areas, moving into more diverse locations and serving more of a local population; this needs to be reflected by staff and members of those spaces.”

    Then there are other ways to give back that don’t necessarily include being active in your neighborhood:

    • Sustainably sourced coffee, like All Good Coffee. All profits from All Good Coffee go to the All Good Work Foundation to support social impact organizations, while the farmers are paid a fair price for their produce.
    • Go beyond recycling. “Take a step back and evaluate your overall impact, environmental and health wise. You need to make a thorough analysis of everything that you use: don’t use a lot of paper or styrofoam cups. Find ways to reduce your environmental impact, while at the same time use products that won’t harm your members’ health.”
    • Find electric alternatives.
    • Buy products from local or certified vendors. Heasly recommended attendees look into B Corporation, a company that provides certification to make sure that what you do as a business is right. “They do national certifications and they have certified a lot of vendors, so you might consider working with certified vendors or point your vendors in their direction so that they can be certified.”
    • Donate space: whether it’s a private office, a shared desk, meeting hours, or event space. If you do this, it’s recommended that you create a standard template to better administer and manage the donation program.

    In the end, what you need to keep in mind is that social responsibility programs are about having something positive to talk about. And you should talk about what you are doing — it makes you better and it makes the industry better, as it raises the bar for everyone involved.

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