28 October 2010 ~ 0 Comments

Coworking Community Through Food!

Let your appetite make friends for you!

As I have come to discover at previous jobs, coffee,breaks,lunch breaks, and office meetings are synonymous with socialization. In the past this is how I’ve learned to create friendships with my coworkers. We could gripe about the last memo,or find out that we both enjoy kayaking on the weekends. Either way it’s been in these moments that I’ve learned that these are the opportunities that allow us as coworkers to get to know each other.

Now that I am actually a part of a coworking office space , I have discovered, and as I’ve read on several forums about coworking, that putting people together in an open space close together doesn’t necessarily make socialization as easy as one would think. I consider myself a social person but put me in a room with 15 or more strangers, you can find me with sweaty palms in the corner of the room,trying to figure out what to say. It’s creating and finding the right setting to put everyone at ease, that helps facilitate connections and bonds. At our office in particular I have discovered that the break room or “Cafe Disco” as we call it, has been that setting. From the first day I arrived, I was passed a menu and asked if I was in on “Fiesta Friday”, I love fiestas, and figured it would be a great intro to the group. Needless to say , it worked! We ordered and I was in my first group lunch with my new coworkers. It was great, a little awkward, but still a really cool way to get to know the people I was going to be seeing day in and day out. We are actually all employed under the same company so , we needed to find a way to include all the members of our workspace to our festive lunch breaks. Part of the difficulty in getting other companies to join us was the approach. We’re based in Downtown Miami, typically more corporate and stuffy than the rest of Miami. While the company was created by a freelance developer, we house an array of different companies, from interior designers to financial brokers, real estate agents to an Eco-friendly waste bag company. We couldn’t necessarily say we house simply one type of company. We had to find a way to grab the financial brokers, and agents attention (they’re typically the most serious out of all the members here).

So getting together with some of my the coworkers within my company we figured, “Fiesta Friday” was themed ,yeah there was only six of us but the homemade virgin margaritas, gwak’, and mariachi music we brought, really made it a fiesta. We figured if we applied a fun theme to most luncheons , it would also serve as a networking opportunity, and if we emailed all the companies within our space everyone would be aware, it could really entice all of our members . We officially had Caribbean Potluck Friday in the works! All day there was chatter about ox-tail, and coconut rice. For those who forgot to bring some traditional Caribbean dishes we told them don’t worry there’s plenty of food , just show up and embrace the Caribbean vibes! Our CEO got into it, he dressed his pup in a Rastafarian sweater, and blasted Bob Marley from the break room speakers, our idea was a success.

Here the Miami business style is all about connections, but it was always so serious,pretentious, and superficial. That day, we were able to actually create genuine connections between companies whose business and business concepts would have never lead them to one another. We found a way to appeal to all of our workspace coworkers .

Now, no one orders lunch without considering other coworking pals, if someone forgets to bring lunch and doesn’t want to order we share. We’ve just got a thing going, it’s our niche and it works for us. The old sharing is caring philosophy really works. As I read in other posts, people sitting close in an open space doesn’t just magically create a friendships or connections. You have to find something that works for all of your coworkers. If its not lunch maybe a jelly, whatever it is that grabs all your members’ attention, and can make them feel comfortable enough to join in the current social gathering.