Coworking leadership update!

A bunch of us volunteers had a video meeting today to discuss some of the projects we’re working on. See a few notes on our latest efforts below and ways you can help in green!

Also: Volunteers for coworking.org meet on the #open-coworking channel on Slack every Friday morning at 9:00am ET (GMT-5). We could always use more help; join the Coworking Leadership Slack group to participate!

Intention #1: Collect and promote a list of  Alliances

Local alliances are showing up all over the world. Let’s help them to be more visible and give them opportunities to connect with one another, while also inspiring others to more easily start alliances in their cities!

Melissa Mann-Saubers from Kansas City did an amazing job creating a form and promoting it everywhere—we now have 30 responses! Wow!

We got some submissions from folks who we don’t think are running actual alliances in the way we envisioned, so we’re going to talk about how to handle that.

Next steps:

  • Melissa will work with Tony and the rest of the volunteer crew to compose a follow-up email with some requests to help us determine who’s a qualifying alliance.
  • In the meantime, Tony will work on a plan for how to handle displaying the qualifying spaces on Coworking.org.
  • If you know of a coworking alliance that isn’t listed here, have them fill out our form here!

Intention #2: Create new welcome materials

900,000+ people visit the coworking.org family of sites (mostly the wiki) every year. How can we more easily present visitors with information that’s useful to them when they arrive?

Taylor Tran of Innovation Melbourne created a survey to be posted on the most highly-trafficked wiki pages to get a sense of what kinds of questions are on the minds of visitors.

Now, he needs help getting that survey posted on the wiki pages. It’s really just a matter of copying and pasting some code into 20 or so pages.

Next steps:

  • Consider hiring a virtual assistant to help us tend to some repetitive tasks. Do you know of any good VAs you can recommend? If so, join the Slack group, pop into the #open-coworking channel, and wave your hand!
  • Find a volunteer to help us post this survey on some wiki pages! Is that volunteer you? If so… contact us via the Slack group above!

Intention #3: Create a pledge

One of our core missions is to raise awareness of coworking as not just a neat thing but a global movement. To that end, we would like to invite those who are committed to reinforcing our core values to help us create a sense of coherence and coordination between us. To help us identify the people who are in alignment with that, we’re creating a pledge people can take.

David M. Botwick-Reis of Homestead Coworking in Edmonton created a draft pledge. Now we need to get him some feedback!

Next steps:

Intention #4: Create a generic coworking logo to be shared widely

Building on the previous point, creating a super shareable logo to be spread across the alliances we work with and by the people who take our pledge will help to reinforce a sense of coherence to our global movement. 

Taylor worked with Tony to hire a designer to mock up some potential logos and color schemes. A bunch of folks weighed in with their thoughts, and ultimately we didn’t conclude decisively that we like any of them better than the starfish / logotype we already have.

Taylor suggested that we solicit the involvement of someone with expertise in branding to help us get this conversation to where it needs to go.

Next steps:

  • Do you know someone who has experience professionally branding an organization who would be willing to volunteer some time to help us create a global brand for coworking?If so, join the Slack group, pop into the #open-coworking channel, and wave your hand!

Intention #5: Develop an organizational leadership structure

Right now, Jeannine van der Linden and Tony Bacigalupo (that’s me!) are at the helm. We’d love to implement a more formal board structure next year.

For now, we are using the final portion of this year to build momentum for that conversation by inviting people to join us in the aforementioned #open-coworking Slack channel.

We’re also setting up quarterly leadership calls for next year, way in advance, so everyone we need will have plenty of opportunity to mark their calendars. 

Intention #6: Program promotion

Coworking communities are more than just shared workspaces, but how do we demonstrate that in a way that is obvious and actionable? I believe it comes down to programming.

This movement is special not because of the spaces, but because of what happens in the spaces. If we can increase the visibility of not just the spaces but the things happening in those spaces, we can give people more reasons to visit spaces and form relationships. 

To this end, Tony put together a blog post outlining the idea and inviting folks to register their January programs through a form.

Next steps:

Intention #7: Improve the Coworking Visa

One of the movement’s greatest assets, the Visa is in sore need of an overhaul!

I’ve got a scheme for how to tackle the overhaul of this, but could use the help of a crafty developer.

Next steps:

  • Who has expertise in WordPress, and in particular, Custom Post Types, who can spare some time to cowork with me on this a little?

That’s all for now! Much more to come in 2018!

Register your program!

For the longest time, many of us in the coworking movement have been emphasizing the fact that coworking is about more than renting workspace—but if that’s the care, what is it about?

We believe that, at its core, true coworking is an act of gathering with intention.

People working alongside one another in a shared space, but people who meet specifically to support one another is even better!

To that end, we’re highlighting coworking communities that are offering programs that invite people to gather and support one another.

If you’re running a program in January 2018 that people should know about, add it to our directory using this form.

We’ll publish it in one big digest, so we can raise awareness of all the good things people are organizing out there and, perhaps, start to shift the perception of what membership in a coworking community is really about.

If you’re not currently running a program but would like to, we’ll have free templates for you!

Register here to receive the materials when they’re ready.

 

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How to balance building great community with managing the facility

By Tony Bacigalupo of New Work Cities.


What follows is an excerpt of an email conversation I recently had with a coworking space manager who is struggling with an unfortunately common issue in the coworking world:

We are running into a consistent issue where we have all these great ideas but not enough time or resources to really execute them well. (I realize this is everyone’s problem all the time, too)

I and my board are all working on being more strategic about choosing what we do, and who is doing it, but for now, we are still pushing ourselves out of a bit of a rut and I haven’t quite found the traction I need.

Here’s my main difficulties time-wise. Running this place and having a consistent voice on social media (ie: giving our programs the best marketing we can) is a FT effort.

But, getting out into the community to meet people would also be at least a 1/2 time effort, and we also need to look for funding which that in and of itself could easily be a FT job.

I don’t know how to begin to tackle all of our needs, and stay engaged with the coworkers we do currently have.

It’s no surprise that anyone getting into managing a space would come up against these sorts of issues, but it doesn’t make the situation any more acceptable.

So how do you tackle a situation where everything seems important, yet there just aren’t enough resources to go around?

If you find yourself in a similar situation, I suggest you look at each component and identify all the ways you can go about it in a more clever way.

After having had some time to reflect on these sorts of challenges, I have developed a few core approaches that I know work. Here are two:
 

Focus on human interactions over social media.

Social media can consume an unlimited amount of time and attention, competing with countless others all over earth in an arms race for who can be noisiest. I’m not a fan.

Don’t play a game you can’t win. Change the game. The beauty of coworking resides in the fact that it happens in real life, face-to-face.

So take a social media holiday for a day, or two days, or a week, and instead dedicate that time to just talking to real humans in your space or in other communities.

I remember distinctly one day I was mucking around for hours with MailChimp for a newsletter that was several days overdue, lamenting to myself, “how do I connect with the members and get them to actually show up and care?”… and as I was doing this, I was repelling members who wanted to come up and have a conversation with me. Because I was too busy trying to figure out how to connect with the members. DUH!

So I started practicing getting away from the screen and hanging out in the kitchen. Almost immediately I ended up having conversations with people, learning more about them, and doing a lot of good. One member wanted to organize a new group and had no idea she was empowered to do so within our space. That group was an awesome part of our community for a long time, but it only happened because I talked to her.

Integrate participation into the onboarding process.

When people join the space simply to rent workspace, you immediately have an uphill battle trying to get past their “I’m too busy” wall. Instead, shift the reason someone joins away from space and towards a more transformative program.

Talk to your members. Identify their interests and look for opportunities to encourage and empower them wherever possible. When those members start organizing activities in the space, do whatever you can to invite potential new members to participate.

When people start developing a relationship with your community first through a shared activity, like a happy hour, show and tell, work sprint, arts and crafts session, hackathon, or any of a number of other things, they’ll understand right from the onset that what you’re managing is something more than just a workspace.

Set aside time for admin things.

Everyone needs focus time to do the non-social things that make a business run. Wherever possible, set aside blocks of time to work on these sorts of things, and communicate that to your team and members, so they know to leave you alone during those times.

For an added bonus, invite others to join you! You can do group sessions where everyone who participates resolves to use the same block of time for focus work. This helps keep everyone in line and makes it easier to block out distractions.

If you have a team, you can rotate who’s on Focus Time so others can cover any questions or issues that come up.

Balancing community building against operations is a constant effort, but with some basic healthy best practices, you should be able to make it work!

A new design for the Coworking Blog, and plans to overhaul the wiki!

We’re proud to announce a new, fresh design for the Coworking Blog!

After many years of faithful service, the Woothemes Mainstream theme was thrown a respectful retirement party. Colleagues gathered around and shared stories of their fond memories of the old theme, and just how darn yellow it really used to be.

Now, as the old theme takes its cheap gold watch and rides off into the digital sunset, we make way for the new. This theme, based on the Twenty Sixteen WordPress theme, is designed to be super clean and leave lots of room to feature the content without the clutter.

In pursuit of the ultimate coworking resource

The redesign comes as an early step in a larger effort to make the Coworking Blog a more robust resource for all things coworking.

We’re now testing just how far we can go to use the blog platform as a way of tackling one of our biggest challenges: figuring out what to do with the blog’s sister site, the Coworking Wiki.

Could the Blog replace the wiki? I believe it can. WordPress is a far more powerful, easy to use, and better supported platform than the PBWorks platform the Wiki is based on.

The biggest challenge, of course, is in porting over the data. To address this, We’re looking at a phased approach that allows passionate organizers claim access to their region’a new page, hosted on the Coworking Blog, and seeing where people’s interest takes us from there.

Let us help you build better portals for your city and region!

Head over to the Coworking Wiki directory, find the corresponding wiki pages for your area, and see how accurate what you find turns out to be. If you find it to be mess or out-of-date and are interested in helping with a upgrade and an update, let us know! Email us at info [at] opencoworking.org.

With your help, we can re-create these pages in cleaner, easier to maintain formats. See the example page I created here.

Support us! It would really mean a lot.

A lot of you on this list are already supporters (Thank you! You rock!), but for those of you who aren’t, we just opened up a new supporter level at $9/mo. Every single person who supports us makes a huge difference in helping us dedicate the resources we need to be able to make this movement work. Learn more or register now!

Cheers,
Tony Bacigalupo and the Open Coworking team