Bernie J. Mitchell from the London Coworking Assembly put the spotlight on the coworking balance, in a podcast with the founder of Coworking with Iris and co-founder of Women Who Cowork, Iris Kavanagh.
Having a foundation of sound business practices behind the coworking model is important, it ensures the consistency of the work environment remains intact. Achieving that fine balance between the business side and a thriving community is an ongoing process. Oftentimes more real estate focused spaces have the money but lack the community. The opposite can also be seen with more community-focused spaces, they struggle with cash flow but have a more solidified network. A cooperatively run business, on the other hand, looks at the importance of having a decision-maker. This person keeps the business and community in mind, leading to a far more inclusive environment.
The five coworking values –accessibility, collaboration, community, openness and sustainability — work in harmony to bring further balance to the coworking world.
When Iris looks at Accessibility, for example, she also looks at the geographic nature of a coworking space within the neighbourhood. The availability of surrounding facilities and the fact that it also serves as a community centre for all that frequent it is important to her. The physical perspective also plays a large role with the aim of being functional and purposeful to all creatives using the space.
Collaboration is at the core of the community. Sharing ideas in an open and inviting way creates an ecosystem of collaboration. It invites alliances at a community level, as well as offering networking opportunities with other coworking spaces in creating a sustainable business practice.
The word community is used a lot, this is the main reason why people show up to coworking spaces! It’s all about the relationships built within these coworking spaces – if this isn’t at the forefront of the business model and in the way decisions are made, then the community experience isn’t the true offering.
Openness attracts a diverse and inclusive coworking force in an area that respects personal space and boundaries. Policies are put in place, and each member is aware of the procedures that act to protect the greater community.
For Iris, Sustainability comes back to the making of decisions with the community at the head of the approach. It is this network of individuals that sell the idea – they fill those spaces and draw more people to these spaces.
A recent trend sees more women owning and running coworking spaces, as these five core values speak strongly to the principles of ‘women in business’. Women tend to think about the entire unit or community as opposed to compartmentalising.
The ethos of coworking is that of an abundance mindset, it is more a collaborative effort than a competitive act. It is about striking that perfect balance between running a profitable business and nurturing an inclusive community of coworkers. A community can’t be fast-tracked, you need to have the maturity to run the business in a way that also stimulates the building of relationships.