Understanding The Value Of Coworking Part 1: Be More Than A Seat Filler

Coworking Participation

The coworking community talks a lot about the value of coworking, and what makes it such a life-changing style of work. Each coworking space has unique characteristics that set it apart from others and define its community.

But there are some universal attributes that apply to coworking in any setting, whether it’s a massive space in New York City or a tiny community in rural Virginia.

The importance of community engagement and participation is one of these universal truths. Basically, the more you put in to your coworking experience, the more you’re going to get out of it. Period.

If someone shows up for the open desk and the free coffee, and leaves as soon as their work’s done, they’re not giving much to the community. Chances are their coworking experience will be shallow and forgettable. And when it comes time to renew their membership, these “desk fillers” probably won’t see a reason to return.

But when members make a conscious effort to be a resource and encouragement to other members, they often find that the community returns the favor ten-fold. Don’t believe me? Here’s what Cohere members had to say about “getting what you give.”

“The give/get thing is the essence of coworking. Without the exchange of energy, information and camaraderie you just have a bunch of people together in a room.”

“I absolutely believe that [you get what you give]. However, I feel like I was given so much before I was able to give back. I still feel like I have received more than I’ve given, and it’s that self-lessness from the community that encourages me to pay it forward in every way I possibly can.”

“What you get out of coworking is one part how you perceive your involvement in the community, and one part how the community perceives you. If you see the community simply as a place to network and toss your business card around, you may or may not get good connections — it depends on what the community expects. If members expect to be networking most of the time, you will be welcomed with your card, otherwise, you won’t be. Each coworking facility has its own rhythm, its own beat. And if you don’t move by it, you won’t get anything out of it, no matter how much you give.”

“I think if you come in to a collaborative workspace, put your head down and work away, than people won’t talk to you and you won’t be tapping into the “collaborative” part of what coworking offers.  However, if someone just wants a workspace in an environment with a bunch of cool people, but doesn’t really want to interact, that’s okay. It’s not bad, it’s just that they won’t get quite as much out of the experience as someone else might.”

“The main reason I joined [a coworking space] was for the community and quality memebers. It’s nice to have a different space to work outside of my home office, of course, but it’s my connections with the amazing, generous, open-minded community members at Cohere I value most as a solopreneur. I offer advice, assistance and resources to other members as well, without feeling obligated. It’s all very natural.”

In case you’re thinking that all of this collaboration and connection takes hours of effort, most of the members who responded to our little survey stated that all they had to “give” was a positive attitude, a friendly personality, honest feedback, an expert opinion, or news of a work opportunity.

Coworking folks tend to be an upbeat bunch, so for many of you, becoming more than a seat filler simply means being yourself!

Got an opinion about “getting what you give” in a coworking community? Share it in a comment! 

Also watch out for the next installment of this series!

Image Credit: Flickr – nateOne

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