Coworking: How To Avoid Fragmentation In The Presence Of Private Offices

Coworking Private Office

As many of you know, Cohere is getting ready to move to our new home: a larger, more versatile space that will better meet the needs of our growing community. Of course, this new facility also comes with a bigger price tag, so I’ve had to spend time deciding the most economical way to make use of all our new space.

Among other things, this means for the first time in Cohere history, I’ve decided to offer private offices. These offices will be separate from the open work space, meaning the members that use them will spend most of their time away from the chatter and sharing that make Cohere such a lovely place to belong.

I know, I know. In the past I’ve ranted that private offices crush the true spirit of community, and to some extent I still believe that. So what changed?

Over the past year I’ve discovered that a) doors and walls, while they may help set the tone, don’t always determine how the community functions; and b) private offices are an easy way to get much-needed money in the door. Also, private offices attract fledgling businesses that are too small for their own space, but could really benefit from and add to the dynamic of our community.

But without conscious effort from both office-dwellers and flex desk-sitters, there’s a risk our community could become fragmented. Isolation is bad for both groups and defeats the purpose of coworking. To avoid that, I put together a quick list of reminders that I hope will help us maintain the level of communication and collaboration we’ve enjoyed in the past.

How To Avoid Fragmentation In The Presence Of Private Offices

1. Keep your door open whenever possible. This small gesture will let other members know it’s ok to pop in and say hi. Quickly.
2. Make a point of chatting with other members on the way to and from your private office. Even if it’s just a smile and “good morning,” it helps.
3. Don’t eat meals at your desk. Give your eyes a rest and venture into a common area where you can enjoy some small talk.
4. Avoid IMs/IRC when the person you’re chatting with is in the building. You’re not glued to your chair. Take a much-needed stretch, and walk over to their desk.
5. Attend social functions and workshops whenever you can. This is a great way to meet members who work different schedules, and you might also learn something!
6. Interact with Cohere members via social media. We’ve got a pretty active Facebook group where people ask emergency questions, share funny links, and respond to community announcements. Being active here will ensure that we don’t forget your name, even if we don’t see your face that often.

Do you have concerns about the introduction of private offices? What are your ideas about how to maintain a high level of community interaction despite closed doors? Share your thoughts in a comment!

Image Credit: Flickr – Cowork Central

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