- Do you openly celebrate seasonal or cultural events, such as Christmas, and decorate your space?
- As coworking spaces focus on having diverse communities, this can sometimes be a challenge when deciding which events to openly celebrate.
- The best approach is to ask your community, says Jeannine van der Linden. Here she offers advice on how to go about it.
Coworking spaces have started to focus on having diverse communities and supporting businesses run by people from different cultures, religions, and identities. This can sometimes be a challenge when it comes to certain seasonal events – and, being as some Christmas decorations are still up, this is a prime example.
The best way to know if your community embraces and would like to see seasonal decorations is through knowing them, or by just asking them.
How well do you know your community?
I am famous (not to say notorious) for saying “know who you are, know who you’re for” to my coworkers. Do you know your community well enough to know if they really like seasonal decorations in the coworking space – and which ones? Usually coworking space owners and managers know their coworking community fairly well, but it is very easy to assume that what you like is what your coworkers like – and the fact is, they are unlikely to bring it up.
So, even if you think you know the answer, it is a good idea to simply ask. It doesn’t have to be complicated, you can just say: “We are decorating soon and I was wondering, is there anything you especially like to see in the space – or things you do not like to see?” No need to make what is really a practical question, an existential crisis around what is right and good.
It shows that your coworking space cares about the community and the coworkers.
How do you do that?
Make use of surveys.
There is no better way to get to know your coworkers. Even if you already know the answer, it will be best to ask your coworkers if they have a favourite – or a really not favourite – kind of decoration.
There are many survey platforms that you can make use of, here are three of the most popular ones:
When setting up this survey, first think of the questions that you would like to ask. Also, make sure that the survey responses are collected anonymously.
Here are some questions that you can ask:
- Do you want the space to be decorated?
- Do you like lights as decoration?
- On a scale of one to ten, how favourable are you to religious themes in office decoration?
- What religious themes would you like to see in our decorations?
- What non-religious themes would you like to see?
- Do you think seasonal decorations belong in an office space?
By asking these kinds of questions, you will get a clear idea of how your coworking community feels about the celebration itself, and the decorations. This can help you make a fair decision.
Ultimately, collecting data from your coworkers is the most important step in making your decision. Your coworkers may be more honest if the surveys are collected anonymously.
The next question is of course, whether you should make a decision based on what the majority of people responded to the survey.
How to make a decision
Collecting surveys can guide you to a decision that is fair and considered. But, will it be fair to use the majority answers to make your decision? Or, is it best to look at the minority.
Some folks jump at the chance to decorate almost anything, while others find the whole thing a pointless exercise in consumerism – and still others find it downright offensive.
So once you have the information from your coworkers, you should also ask yourself these questions:
- Which religion is the majority in the area?
- Is the community made of mostly a certain gender?
- Which religions do your coworkers practice?
- Who will and won’t be affected by decorating the space?
- Do you have coworkers who are sensitive to blinking lights, for example, or certain scents?
- Do you have coworkers who need the physical space to remain consistent for navigation or for optimum focus?
Answering these questions can help guide your decision whether you should decorate your coworking space, or not – and how.
To decorate, or not
The decision has to come from the data collected and your own general knowledge as the coworking space owner or manager.
At the end of the day, there are only a few options:
- Decorate the space
- Decorate the space, but leave some areas undecorated for those who don’t celebrate
- Decorate with different themes or in different ways in different parts of the space
- Don’t decorate the space
If you decide to celebrate the event and decorate your coworking space, having done all this work will make it easier to do, I promise. As you work through the considerations as above a way forward becomes clear. Do remember that this is still a working area, and as mentioned that some people have allergies to plants or an aversion to certain smells. My second year in business I was astounded to discover that there are people who hate the smell of lillies and find it distracting – because I just put up what I like and did not do the work.
You can also decide to leave some areas undecorated or decorated differently.
Choosing not to decorate the coworking space comes with other advantages – one being it is certainly less work! It supports coworkers who dislike change and need the space to remain consistent. Another option is a cookie day or potluck meal, for example – if you take the position to decorate the space with people and sharing, not objects, this can be a part of your bond with your community.
So, where do you stand on celebrating cultural, seasonal, or religious events?