The coworking movement has survived it’s infancy, learned to walk and talk, enjoyed the freedom of childhood, and now sits somewhere in its young adult phase. The individualism of childhood fades as teens begin to run in packs, so excited to have found others like themselves. At that stage, you bond by defining what you are not, i.e. “we are not a typical office”, and rebelling against difference in others, I.e. “that place is not a ‘real’ coworking space”. At some point however, it isn’t enough to clarify what you are not, you have to make choices that define what you are. What are your values? Why do you exist? What role do you play in your community? Not just as one of several coworking spaces but specifically as a unique coworking space. Who is your target member? What brings them to you instead of another coworking space? How do you reach them? What is the physical environment that your users want? What do they need to be productive? What is your differentiator? value proposition? brand?
Yes, these are all business questions but think of it like this: business consists of hardware (physical space, furniture, equipment) and software (people, culture, strategies). You can’t really make hardware decisions until you know what kind of software you want to run. Before you buy another conference table, or set up a makers bench or day care center, or even another coffee pot, you really should decide who you are. That is the work to be done in these young adult years, work that is challenging but well worth it and the play? Well let’s just say I expect this conference to be a blast!
Kristine Woolsey is a behavioral architect who specializes in design strategy for the workplace. She is interested in coworking as the “new normal” for future work. www.kristinewoolsey.com #designstrategy4work