- Coworking is not just sharing of facilities and office space. It’s about different people and organizations working together.
- A coworking community values collaboration, friendship, and learning, among others. These values can translate to benefits that can help sustain a startup business.
- A community can mean the success or failure of a company. Out of the top 20 reasons for startup failure listed by CB Insights, only two were related to money.
“Show me who your friends are, and I’ll tell you who you are,” so goes the old saying. When it comes to our thoughts, preferences, and actions, the people around us and those we interact with do affect us through instruction, influence, or inspiration. Ultimately, these people don’t just impact our decisions and actions, they also shape the person we become.
Brad Stulberg says, “Working to build a better self almost always means working to build a better community or tribe with which you surround it.” For him, this concept holds true when improving for sports, arts, and even parenting. This is also true for business.
To build a great business, one must build—or find—a great community. To put things into perspective, it is important to understand what community really is. For David Gurteen, an independent Knowledge Management consultant, a community is “a group of people who share things in common, who work together towards a common purpose that they care about, and who care deeply about each other.”
Working together is what a coworking community is all about. In fact, Bernard De Koven first coined the term “coworking” in 1999 to describe the phenomenon “working together as equals.” De Koven noticed that in the business world, people are isolated and categorized by rank and salary level, causing a highly-competitive relationship than a more collaborative one.
That’s still the case for most companies today. And it’s one of the things that makes a traditional office a toxic workplace. As work relationships get more cut-throat, it breeds distrust, conflict, and even sabotage that not only hurt people, but hurt the company as well.
It’s best to develop the right kind of community in the early stages of business. Therefore, startup companies are in the best position to make this so. However, many of them choose to build their enterprise in small, rented offices or even in their own garage where they’re mostly isolated. While it might have worked for successful companies such as Microsoft, this tech giant is now one of the major corporations that use coworking spaces. In fact, Microsoft has sent 70% of their sales and marketing team to various coworking spaces in the US. The company recognizes that in order to truly grow and stay relevant, businesses should be open for more interaction and connection.
The values of a coworking community give value to startups.
The Coworking Manifesto, an online document signed by more than a thousand members of working spaces, enumerates the values needed to sustain a coworking community. Here, we’ll discuss three of the values articulated and how these values yield valuable benefits for startup businesses.
Collaboration over competition
A coworking space is shared by different companies, solo workers, and entrepreneurs. With its open office setup, it leaves members free to meet, discuss, and collaborate.
There’s also a chance you’ll find companies in the same line of business you’re in. If working alongside competitors seem awkward or unthinkable, in a coworking community, it’s not. Earlier models and some current coworking spaces actually cater to professionals and teams in a certain industry or niche.
No one could understand the inner workings and challenges of your business better than those who are in the same boat as you do. In a coworking community, we do not rock the boat. We row together, steering the boat in the right direction and keeping it afloat. Much like in exhibitions and trade shows, a coworking community, involving companies in the same field, keeps the industry alive and profitable through sharing experiences and insights, and developing awareness and competencies.
By valuing collaboration, startups can:
- Increase creativity and productivity through meaningful and helpful interactions. According to a global research by Deskmag and Deskwanted, 74% of people in a coworking community are more productive and over two thirds feel more creative since working in a coworking space.
- Develop a strong and distinctive brand or corporate identity. The respondents of a Harvard Business Review research reported to having more opportunities to discuss their business within the coworking community. This allowed them to view their business as unique and helped them identify well with their company.
- Find meaning in their work by being able to help out in a community. This is one of the key reasons people thrive in coworking spaces based on a Harvard Business Review study. Because there are many chances to help out in a coworking community, members develop their sense of worth.
Friendship over formality
It’s no surprise that a coworking space is a great place to expand one’s professional (and personal network). In a coworking community, members are not just building superficial relationships grounded on formalities. Here, stronger ties are formed from trust, support, and a sense of belongingness.
Networking is necessary for any business, especially for budding companies. Here are some benefits of networking and developing friendships within a coworking community:
- Get investors, partners, and professionals to be part of your business. In a coworking space, you do not have to search everywhere to find these people.
- Build not just reputation, but more importantly, credibility. Working in the presence of different corporations, entrepreneurs, and professionals lets your business gain exposure. As you connect and establish relationships with them, you gain the opportunity to present what your company can offer and what it stands for.
- Get valuable referrals to keep your business growing and going. We’re more comfortable referring friends to other friends or our boss, right? It’s the same in business. In a Harvard Business Review study, 64% recognized that a coworking community is an important source of referrals.
Learning over expertise
There’s a lot you need to learn as a startup company. But learning should continue all throughout the business’s existence. Stop learning and your business will not continue to go anywhere.
That’s why a coworking community gives importance to continuous learning. Of course, it’s great to reach expert level on things. However, there’s a danger to it. Once a person thinks he/she knows everything there is to know about a certain matter, that person stops learning.
Not one person has all the answers. In a coworking community, people are encouraged to share ideas, information, and experiences. A University of Michigan research reveals that knowledge-sharing is one of the most common reasons why people choose to work at a coworking space.
As startups appreciate the value of continuous learning, they are able to:
- Improve their brand, product, or service. A coworking community is a wonderful source of feedback and insight.
- Develop innovations and solutions to create new ventures or support business longevity. Coworking is a great way to discover business challenges or market needs that need to be addressed.
- Make smart choices while avoiding costly errors. The startup phase is a myriad of trials and errors. While experience is still the best teacher, learning from others saves you time and saves your company from wrong business decisions.
It’s not about the money. It’s people.
CB Insights listed down 20 reasons why many startups fail. Brand-building expert and author Denise Lee Yohn points out that out of the top 20 reasons responsible for startup failure, only two were related to money. “Business is fundamentally a human endeavour… So ultimately, startup success comes down to people—the people inside the organization and the people outside it,” she says.
Be part of a caring and dynamic coworking community through Common Ground.
When choosing the right coworking space, you should also consider if the coworking community and culture are aligned with your business’s identity and values. You can also ask about the companies and individuals who work there, so you have an idea of the different industries present.
While hailed as one of the most Instagram-worthy coworking spaces, there’s more to Common Ground than meets the eye. For Expansion Manager, Ana Lucia Aguila, coworking is not just desks and internet connection in a shared workspace. At Common Ground, it’s all about “building an engaged community and vibrant ecosystem to help ambitious, fast-growing companies take business to the next level.”
Do you think the values stated in the Coworking Manifesto will help your team and your business grow a lot faster? Do you believe that being with a community that is aligned with your goals can make your business thrive more? Share with us your thoughts in the comments section below!