Coworking: The True Preferences of Members

 

After developing and managing a coworking community for over 5 years, I feel like I’ve learned a few things about member preferences. I’ve done extensive yet non-mathematical A/B testing on a variety of variables that make life with coworking even better. Here’s a light-hearted take on what really matters to the Cohere Community members.

  1. Never ever put out plain M&Ms when you have peanut M&Ms in your desk drawer. If the coworkers find out that you’ve been holding out on them, certain death will follow.
  2. If you have to choose between buying plain Hershey’s Kisses and Almond ones, always choose the Almond ones. The plain ones will last in the bowl longer but you’ll suffer o_O squinchy eyes for your frugality.
  3. It’s always worth it to splurge on Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day Basil scented hand soap. The members prefer its scent to any other hand soap that has ever been or will ever be available in the domestic United States. Shockingly, hand washing percentages go up and the incidence of infectious disease plummets when they can scrub with basil goodness. (I’m serious, more people washed their hands more frequently when this soap was available. Don’t ask me how I know this, that’s why I’m the community manager).
  4. Give all members 24/7 access. Just because I can’t function after 8pm or before 6am doesn’t mean they can’t.
  5. When planning an event, make sure that food is available and not just any crappy food but really good, delicious food. Our most successful social event is DONUTS. Don’t overthink this one.
  6. Give them communication tools or give them death. Cohere members use no fewer than 6 ways to communicate with one another…sometimes at the same time and sometimes while they sit next to one another speechless, typing.
  7. Don’t underestimate the power of a group lunch. Coworkers prefer to eat together instead of alone. Always forego your lunchbox when the opportunity presents itself.
  8. Never use an image in a blog post that makes sense when you’ve accidentally come across a gem like today’s.

Image credit: Ashley Dryden

Shit I Never Thought I’d Have to Buy This Coworking Space

A surprise county tax form afforded me the opportunity to review every purchase I’ve made for the Cohere coworking spaces in the past 5 years. Some stuck out amid my former business plan list of what a coworking space needed (wifi, coffee, desks, chairs, power strips) In no particular order I present to you a cautionary listicle of shit you might have to buy for your coworking space:

12 Forks

A dual plug digital power cycler for Unifi Pro wifi access points

12 Forks

Unicorn pinataFullSizeRender_1

Eleventy hundred packs of Command adhesives

The world’s secretly tiniest and least useful trash/recycling bin

Moon Gels

Chia Obama Handmade Decorative Planter, Determined Pose: Priceless

Preformed coin wrappers, 100 count, quarters (of which I have used exactly 8)

1 pack multi-color star stickers

3 Tripp Lite N201-020-GY Cat6 Gigabit Gray Snagless Molded Patch Cable RJ45M/M – 20 feet

4 Forks

TV Cart / Stand for LCD, LED, Plasma, Flat Panel TVs with 3″ Wheels, mobile fits 32″ to 50″: bomb proof

200 million Tripp Lite PS2408 Power Strip 120V 5-15R 8 Outlet 15ft Cord Vertical Metal 0URM

400 ForksFullSizeRender

Lite Brites: 2

12 More Forks

Recessed Door Reinforcer 1-3/4-Inch Thick by 2-3/8-Inch Backset 2-1/8-Inch Bore, Stainless Steel

Music Note Black Poly Resin Coated Tin Cookie Cutter 3.5″ for use in making Cohere Bandwiches obv.

IMG_3512

Polaroid High Capacity Replacement Battery For The Polaroid Instant Digital Camera

Portable Foldable Universal Mini Desk Table Stand Holder For iPad: code for world’s cheapest/most effective ipad standFullSizeRender_2

Congratulations (Gold) Award Seals Stickers – 4 stickers per sheet, 8 sheets: I wanted silver. Not gonna lie.

What weird things have you bought for your coworking space?

DIT Coworking Board Combats #selfie-ness

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In this digital age permeated by a pervasive #selfie culture, the Cohere coworking members decided to turn some introspection outward. Last week, over donuts and coffee, we wondered what a whiteboard might bring to our break room. Options included a life-sized Angel cutout replete with changeable outfits and a spreadsheet of how we take our coffee. Then the tables turned: quite magically. We decided to dust off our old Polaroid and crowd-source the content, hence the DIT (Do It Together) instead of the DIY.

Our first #everyoneelsie board has been up for 5 days. It comes with no instructions except the declaration, “Make it Ours!” and a small tray of supplies nearby.

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We’re looking forward to seeing how the board progresses over time and I’m secretly hoping for more people-pics. Does your coworking space have a community curated board? Show us!

Stop Fucking Up This Type of Email

suggestion-boxIn a world of increasing remote work and ever expanding social networks people are desperate to connect in a more meaningful way (besides our lovely coworking space in Fort Collins). Often, that meaningful way is to get a cooperative 3rd party to introduce you to someone over email. If one more well-meaning 3rd party sends me a “connection” email like the following, I’m going to go CRAY all over the interwebs.

Angel,

I was in a meeting with these folks yesterday and thought you’d all like to connect. Find their email addresses above.

Tom

WHY?! Why would I want to email a bunch of strangers? It’s sort of like ringing my doorbell and slinging a couple of strangers into my living room then driving away, tires squealing. But because I’m a lovely person, I tried to email the strangers and ask what they needed from me but Tom, in his infinite wisdom, mistyped all of their email addresses so they all bounced back. Tom, you’re a peach. Never change.

Here is a formula for crafting connection emails that won’t make your friends and colleagues cringe:

Character Key:

Needer: person who you’re trying to help

Giver: person who you think can help

Me: I tell the Needer that I’ll send a connection email so they know it’s coming. OCCASIONALLY I will warn the Giver that a connection email is coming but since I’ve pretty much nailed the connection email process this isn’t usually necessary. I ALWAYS address the Giver first in the email and the NEEDER second.

Components of the Connection Email:

Address the email to both the NEEDER and the GIVER.

Title: Please e-meet each other!

Giver,

I’d like to introduce you to my friend NEEDER. She loves X, Y, Z (Z is always directly related to the need they have). Background info like relocation, education, jobs or another way they might know each other OR the context of why they should know one another (you were both at my birthday party). Needer asked for my help in meeting people who Z & A so naturally you jumped right out at me as an expert in those areas. NEEDER will be emailing you with more info about the project etc. Needer is also available to help volunteer for your upcoming event if that’s helpful for you.

Needer,

Please meet my dear friend, GIVER. She loves X, Y, Z and we’ve known each other for xx years. She has been instrumental in Z & A so she’ll be a wealth of information for your upcoming project. Giver is wicked busy right now due to an upcoming presentation so it may take her a few days to get back with you. Thanks for being patient.

I’ll let you two connect directly from here as everyone is copied on this email. I hope it’s fruitful for you both!

Angel

Summary:

There are a couple of key components that will make your connection email more useful to everyone.

First, in order to pull off a stellar connector email, you HAVE to know both parties fairly well. You won’t be able to address their likes, needs and personality if you’ve never had a good conversation. If you don’t know each party well enough to follow the script above YOU SHOULD NOT BE SENDING CONNECTOR EMAILS!

Second, always make it clear WHO is supposed to take action. 99% of the time, I ask the NEEDER to send the next email and a tip on what it should contain. This removes ALL the ambiguity of who is supposed to do what and it’s the key thing that is lacking in almost every connection email I RECEIVE. #awkward.

Here are some real world examples of connection emails that I have sent in the past month:

Amanda M,

Please meet Amanda W.  Amanda is relocating here in August. She mentioned that she’s certified in event planning, has an MBA and loves coordinating business events so it seemed natural to connect you two.

Amanda W, please meet Amanda M. Amanda and I have known each other for years and she’s a neighbor to our midtown Cohere location. Here is her website xxxxxxxx. Amanda is well-connected to many businesses, events and the arts scene here in town.

 I’d love for you two to meet sometime and see if an interesting connection pops for you. I’ll leave it to Amanda W to email Amanda M.

 Glad my name’s not Amanda,

Angel

C,
Please meet S, Founder of the xxxxxx. We used to be next door neighbors in Fort Collins (our businesses, not our homes) and S is expanding into Denver. He’s looking for connections with the coolest coworking spaces both for space to conduct the tech workshops AND as a business landing place.

S, Please meet C of xxx xxx. We’ve been circling each other in the coworking world for 4-ish years now?! xxx xxx is very similar to Cohere and if I may be biased, is my favorite Denver coworking hub. C is the founder and community manager for both locations.
S, please email C and explain in more detail what you’re needing.

Angel

***********************************

Go forth and connect.

Tiny Coworking Spaces in Washington, Colorado and New York

Cohere was a tiny coworking space for many years before we became the VC-back multi-location titan that we are now in Fort Collins, Colorado (heavy sarcastic tone). Because of that we take special pride in sussing out the lesser-known tiny and rural coworking locations that you’ve probably never heard about in the New York Times, Entrepreneur or Fast Company publications. Today we’re going from NY to WA and stopping over in Colorado. The moral of the story: ALWAYS look for a coworking space even if you’re off the beaten path.

Carnation, Washington: Tolt Hive

Why Cohere loves them: they started their community in a barn.

tolthive

Tolt Hive is in the very beginning phases of building our community in Carnation, WA. Located in the heart of a beautiful agricultural valley about 25 miles east of Seattle, Carnation is a quaint town with a walkable neighborhood and numerous trails that lead to amazing views of the Cascades, rivers, and nearby farms just a short distance outside of town.

A small group of us began gathering twice per week in September of 2014 in a barn loft (no joke) in our little town of 2,000 people to test out the idea of coworking. I founded Tolt Hive in January of 2015 and have moved our gatherings to office space in the center of town. We are in the process of negotiating with the space owners to set up a more permanent arrangement at this location.

We currently get together on Mondays and Wednesdays between 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m at the following address: 31957 E. Commercial Street, Carnation, WA, 98014. Readers can join our mailing list and get more info at www.tolthive.com.

Paonia, Colorado: The Hive Paonia

Why Cohere loves them: a Cohere member was traveling through and couldn’t wait to come back and tell us that there’s a coworking community of “hippie rafters on the western slope!” 

paonia

When The Hive was initially conceived in the spring of 2014, the plan was a far-reaching idealist concept with the intention of bringing the community together, attracting new and amazing people from far reaches, sharing resources and ideas, and collaborating on new ways to create a better future for our local community and the world. Because of overwhelming contributions from our members and the community, we’ve already succeeded , and at a reality-questioning speed!

Beacon, New York: Beahive

Why Cohere loves them: their loquacious description below.

beahive

Beahive has been around since 2009.  Many of our Beacon members are émigrés from NYC. They’re the kind of savvy, ambitious creative class habitués you find in cities, but since they’ve escaped the city for a small Hudson Valley river town famous for both its world-class museum Dia:Beacon and Pete Seeger, and galleries and cafes nestled between a mountain and the river, they’re a touch older (average: 30s and 40s vs 20s and 30s) with an admixture of individualistic and communitarian tendencies.

Believe it or Not: Cohere Coworking is Now Valued at…

 

Tech SupportCohere, the Fort Collins, Colorado-based coworking space that specializes in being awesome, has just raised $0 million in a round of funding. The deal values the company at a whopping $.00000000000000000000001 billion, according to Founder, Angel Kwiatkowski.

It’s a decent price for what is essentially a sharing hub of friendship and unlimited coffee. But Cohere’s business model, which combines real people with each other, plays into the “sharing economy” trend that has captivated hardly any investors for itself in recent years.

In addition to its modest physical footprint, which includes 2 spaces in this one city with one more on the way, Cohere also recently debuted its own social network, called “turn around and talk to your neighbor in person.” It’s similar to LinkedIn, in that it’s a business networking site, but it’s not infuriating to use nor does it generate 27 emails every hour to its members.

As Angel Kwiatkowski, Cohere’s community manager, told a friend when Cohere launched, the goal was to accommodate all the people who fill up coffee shops and pajama pants at home. “We literally cannot make coffee fast enough,” she said. “I get the feeling that there is much larger demand for donuts and coffee in coworking spaces than we ever anticipated.”

Now, however, Cohere has more demand for more toilet paper. “We happen to need two-ply just like Uber happens to need cars, just like Airbnb happens to need apartments,” Cohere co-founder Angel Kwiatkowski told a concerned member.

But Cohere’s approach is not more or less risky than Uber’s or Airbnb’s. Unlike either of those companies, which essentially act as marketplaces for independent drivers and home owners, Cohere leases all the physical space, itself, and for now, that’s working out well for the company. Thanks to a marginally positive checking account balance, many of the members who occupy Cohere’s spaces are capable of paying for a monthly membership.

So it’s no wonder Cohere’s getting while the getting’s good. The question is: what happens when the coffee dries up or—dare we say it—the bubble bursts?

Tea. The answer is hot tea.

Cohere Coworking Stats, Figures and Growth in Fort Collins, CO

Happy Holidays From Cohere: Thanks, Reflection, Future

As the year comes to a close I wanted to take some time to thank you, reflect, and give you a preview of what’s coming in 2015.

Thank You.

I never say it often enough but you make Cohere possible. You choose us. You work with us. You laugh with us. You grow with us. Maybe you’ve been a member for 5 years or for 5 days. You matter. You are important.

Without you, Cohere is just an empty shell, a real estate transaction and a line item on someone’s budget. WITH you, we become a community, a pivot point for new friendships, and a platform for personal growth and change.

Let’s Reflect.

In December of 2009 we started out coworking in a donated reception area once/week. On the 5th week we ran out of chairs (14 of them) and broke the internet.RMI2 coworking test In March 2010, we opened our first location in Old Town with 4 members. Coworking-Cohere

In January 2012 we moved to the Howes location. Last December we had 39 members and 1 location. This December we have 75 members and 2 locations. That’s double. That’s huge. And we’re set to double again in 2015. Whether you told a friend about Cohere or posted an update on Facebook, many of our new members come from word of mouth and it makes a difference.2014-11-07 13.17.06

What’s Next.

2015 will bring Cohere to its final space frontier: Cohere Bandwidth, shared rehearsal space for musicians inside the amazing artist ecosystem that is the Downtown Artery. We’re looking forward to creative new connections between the artists of the Artery, the musicians of Bandwidth and the nerds of Cohere.

While Bandwidth may be located at the intersection of Linden and Jefferson we’re really at the crossroads of combining art, music and brains in brand new ways.

Here’s to 2015, may it bring you meaningful connections, amazing independence, kindness and love.

Love, Angel

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Ps. Hat tip to Julie who’s been with us every step of the way from our first pre-community meeting to today.

 

Coworking ebooks: A Wicked Discount

***30% off all ebooks by Cohere. Code at bottom of this post.

Coworking: Building Community As A Space Catalyst was the first book ever written specifically for those who want to start a coworking space in their town, but aren’t sure how to get started.

Co-authored by Angel “Madame” Kwiatkowski and Beth “Bethesaurus” Buczynski of Sharing Is Good, this book is a useful, hands-on and thought-provoking resource for coworking space catalysts based on the proven principle of “community first, space second (or never).”

This first of its kind book guides wannabe space catalysts through the most important phase of coworking: building the community.

“Coworking: Building Community as a Space Catalyst is a timely and much needed book about the most important movement for independent workers today,” said Neal Gorenflo, founder of Shareable Magazine. Coworking spaces are one of the crucibles from which a new economy will emerge, but it’s essential that the movement hold on to it’s core values of community, collaboration, openness, accessibility, and sustainability as it grows. This book will help new catalysts incoporate these values into their spaces and create a life-affirming economy to replace the destructive one we have today.”

Check out a preview of the book here, and purchase your own digital copy at 30% off through November 7th with coupon code SOEXCITED. Coupon code works on your entire shopping cart so buy now and buy many!

 

Building Coworking Communities: No Sailboat Required

It’s easy to make connections and get to know one another inside a coworking space. We take that for granted and just assume that we’ll meet someone new in the course of our day to day to-dos. A recent retreat to Seattle taught me how vital and AWESOME a planned group activity can be especially when that activity is way outside our “normal.” So when our organizer asked if we’d like to go SAILING, it seemed a little scary but we would be doing it together so surely it would be okay.

I tentatively agreed to a sailboat ride and bummed some Dramamine off a fellow coworker. Little did I know that it would be scary and exhilarating and that it would change Adam’s life forever.

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By getting us a little out of our comfort zones and putting us in cramped quarters we were able to learn something (sailing) from new friends (the captain and his crew) and experience our location (Seattle) from a whole new point of view. Andy and I even did the most terrifying thing and crawled out to the front of the boat while we were experiencing maximum “reaching” aka, the boat was really at an angle to the water and we could have fallen out at any moment. But we didn’t.

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In order to bring a similar experience home to the Coherians of Fort Collins, we’re going to stay up late and sort canned goods. Yep, I plan to use up as much if not more adrenaline during our Food Bank Shift at the CAN Jam on November 6th from 11pm-1am. Heck, it meets all the criteria: new location, new people to learn from and we’ll get a different point of view on where we live.

Has your coworking community done activities outside of your space? Tell us in the comments!

ps. my “crew” on the boat:

Aaron from Rapid City, MI, The Factory

Tony from New York City, New Work City

Adam and Alex (not pictured) from Philidelphia,PA, Indy Hall

Susan and Jacob from Seattle, WA, Office Nomads

Ashley from Toronto, Canada, The Foundery

Andy from Columbus, OH The Salt Mines

 

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