Category: Community

Coworking Story #3 – Facilitating – the main goal of Het Industriegebouw

Every two weeks we publish a blog in our series of Coworking Stories. Working in a coworking space is relatively new and carries new motivations, needs and collaborations along. We want to uncover how special, sustainable and valuable it is to work in a coworking space. We also want to investigate what the struggles are and what needs to be improved. In this edition Tjeerd Hendriks, letter of Het Industriegebouw in Rotterdam, explains how he facilitates in uniting people and professions.

Tjeerd Hendriks (in camel coat on the photo) is the letter (and curator/developer) of Het Industriegebouw in Rotterdam. This is also the building where the headquarters of mr.Watson resides. Together with his business partner Joost Prins, Tjeerd composes the most ideal mixture of tenants, where they consider the added value and relevancy of each tenant to other tenants. The covering goal is to create a valuable community. “With Het Industriegebouw, we hope to cultivate a piece of Rotterdam, as a result of building a strong community that contributes to the city and the neighbourhood,” tells Tjeerd.

Uniting people offline
The impressive building that is situated on the Goudsesingel, contains 23.000 square metres. A huge surface, where the fulfilment is considered precisely. This pays off. “We want to take care of our in house offer of different professions and facilities, so small companies as well as big ones can organise anything they want, within the walls of the building. From communications services to advocacy to photography, we want to offer the full package of services. We only facilitate.”

Not a coincidence
According to Tjeerd, in a coworking space the most important thing is to facilitate in uniting people and professions. Mr.Watson does the exact same job online. “In my opinion, an online platform like mr.Watson only works out if people see each other offline,” says Tjeerd. “Though, seeing each other is often based on a coincidence. On mr.Watson you can search for someone, contact the person you were looking for and then exchange business. Next to this, I think it is an added value that you can fix stuff, like register a meeting room or collectively buy paper or coffee.”

Photography: Titia Hahne Photography 

Coworking Story #2 – The Crucial Success of Glass Walls

DirkEvery two weeks we publish a blog in our series of Coworking Stories. Working in a coworking space is relatively new and carries new motivations, needs and collaborations along. We want to uncover how special, sustainable and valuable it is to work in a coworking space. We also want to investigate what the struggles are and what needs to be improved. In this second edition Dirk Scheele, entrepreneur and tenant of Het Industriegebouw in Rotterdam, explains why glass walls are crucial in the success of a coworking space.  

Dirk Scheele is owner of and and rents a pretty light workspace in Het Industriegebouw in Rotterdam. It is the second coworking space where he resides. 

“We are renting a workspace from the summer of 2015. Because we were the first tenants of this redesigned post war building, we were allowed to share our desires with the owner. And yes, he took our desires into account. One year later, this is still the way it works. When we have struggles with something concerning our workspace, the organisation immediately takes action to solve the problem. Working fast and taking care for the consent of the tenants characterizes the management of the coworking space.”

Glass walls make the difference
“The surplus value of renting in Het Industriegebouw is the transparency and interaction with the tenants. The glass walls are crucial in this. Because you see someone working, it is easier to drop by and start a conversation. This contributes to the community feeling. I feel a true chemistry among the various tenants. This is not something evident. The owners of Het Industriegebouw are selective and choose tenants that truly have an added value to the existing palette of tenants.


The struggle of renting in a coworking space
“The group of tenants becomes bigger and bigger. Thus, the contact sometimes dilutes and small clusters of tenants come into existence. Clusters of tenants who naturally find each other. The binding within a cluster is staunch, but it becomes more difficult to build up a relationship with other tenants. Following to that, my struggle is the shared maintenance of the facilities in the building. The group is too big to find out who did what and more important: who did not?! That frustrates me. Especially when it comes to the kitchen and garbage bags.

The growth to an ideal workspace
“A workspace must fit to what you want to emit. Most of the time, your workspace grows as your company grows. We fit perfectly in our workspace. The space is light, spacious and proper. I find it important that our space is representative, so we can proudly welcome our clients.”

Do’s: soapbox sessions & bottom-up events
“During a drink there must be the occasion to introduce yourself on a soapbox and pitch about your business. Due to this, there is an opening to start a conversation. A drink must not be too informal, because then, people will only talk to the other people of their small cluster.”

“In this coworking space, there is literally and figuratively room to organise events. We are free to initiate ideas and to unfold them into a real event. It is so nice that everyone thinks along and tries to assist. The events that are organised by tenants, strengthen the community more than anything else.”

Dirk I

Photo I & II: Titia Hahne Photography
Photo III: Kim Stolk

Coworking Story #1 – Design Thinking as a Principle of Coworking Space Kleinhandel

Every two weeks we publish a blog in our series of Coworking Stories. Working in a coworking space is relatively new and carries new motivations, needs and collaborations along. We want to uncover how special, sustainable and valuable it is to work in a coworking space. We also want to investigate what the struggles are and what needs to be improved . In this first edition, Sem Carree of Kleinhandel in Rotterdam explains us how they integrated Design Thinking in creating a coworking space.

It seems exceptional. Someone who has a background in Strategic Product Design, that currently is a concept creator of a coworking space, called Kleinhandel. Despite that, it is not as crazy as it sounds. The vision on which the prudence of Kleinhandel is based, originates from Design Thinking. The statement of Albert Einstein: “We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them” has a relation with Design Thinking and on the tact and vision of concept creators Sem Carree and Brendan Jansen op de Haar. What role does Design Thinking play in the development of the coworking space and the community that it carries?

Developing from the tenants point of view
“Kleinhandel came into being from an opportunity field,” says Carree. “Brendan and I had a company, housed in a coworking space that would be demolished. We saw an opportunity in developing a _MG_6306coworking space ourselves. We asked our associated tenants what their needs and desires were, in renting a work space. It appeared that a central location, fast internet and a professional appeal were tangible must haves. This is also Design Thinking. The human being takes center stage and you really develop from the needs and desires of the tenants. They (and we) outgrew the ad hoc location and were ready for a premium office concept.”

 Transparency, co-creation and progression
“We are transparent ever since the start. It is our value proposition on which our pricing and spaces are based. Next to it, we let future tenants participate in the concept design. Together we designed the floor plan of our first floor, which had an amount of 800 square meters. Because of this, their body of thoughts is intertwined in the concept of Kleinhandel. This contributes to their alliance with the office space and plays a fundamental role in sustainable rent. Beside it, we try to facilitate our tenants in the development of their business.”

                                                                                                                               Pain of the community: isles
“Kleinhandel grows well. In the meantime, the coworking space contains 6000 square meters. “What we see, is that little islands come into existence within the community,” says Sem. “It is our job to break through the isles, in order that the community stays the same. To do that, we simply located a table tennis table, to lead the tenants to the table to meet there. Our goal is to let every tenant contribute to the community, in a pleasant way.”

Kleinhandel x Design Thinking
“Thinking from the tenants, taking their needs and desires serious, designing the floor plan in co-creation. Design Thinking is truly intertwined in the DNA of Kleinhandel. This doesn’t mean that the letters Sem and Brendan are indissoluble committed to the concept. “Our goal is to share and develop the body of thoughts with the tenants,” says Carree. “And yes, this is also Design Thinking.”

Photos: Kleinhandel

Creating a Community in which every member matters

Coworking spaces can rely on frameworks to build communities that enhance the personal and work lives of members. These platforms have been proven successful in individual companies from start-ups to mid-size businesses and in workspaces shared by multiple companies.

These platforms are built on six foundational principles. In two earlier posts, four of them were explored:
+ The value of Membership & Fulfillment of needs
+ The importance of Knowing one another & Shared experiences

The last two principles enhance the sense of community for all by giving members a shared identity and providing each one a voice regardless of their position within the community.

Boundaries: The geography of a coworking community
Boundaries give citizens a national identity, a mentality of being part of a united group of people. Over time, a heritage is developed through shared experiences that enhance personal and collective bonds. Such boundaries don’t have to be physical. They can be relational and emotional, created through shared values and ideals that surround a group of people working together in community. These “tribal” boundaries are strengthened by membership, knowing one another, sharing experiences, having needs met from within the community and an egalitarian sense that everyone is important and has something to contribute. How are boundaries developed within a company with a departmentalized structure? How are they fostered in a coworking community sharing workspace?

Your approach to creating the boundary of a shared identity should be multifaceted.
1. Foster members getting to know one another through personal profiles like those used in social media and a direct messaging service. Use them to introduce new members to the group too;
2. Build a searchable database that facilitates members connecting with those who are like-minded or have skills or experience they want to tap into;
3. Post a shared calendar of events that members can populate with social functions, seminars for personal development, shared community service projects or other meaningful gatherings.
4. Make it possible for members and member companies to improve cost-efficiency through shared office space, equipment, storage or even shared employees.

These are the tools that create boundaries around a group of people, boundaries that tie them together and foster shared experience, abilities, resources and ultimately shared success.

Influence: Everyone matters
When members of a community believe that they don’t have a voice, that their ideas are ignored or they have nothing to contribute, they are effectively disenfranchised. Most will leave the community or will stay only to be disgruntled and ineffective. It’s a recipe for poor morale within a company or coworking community.

However, research shows that the opposite is true as well. When members believe that they can influence the community through their ideas, abilities and contributions, the bonds holding them are strengthened. From there, synergy happens when each member contributes to create a robust, successful whole in which everyone benefits.

This is why supporting relationships and interaction is so vital to the establishment of a coworking community that thrives to the benefit of its members. When anyone, including the newest member or the lowest-ranking employee of a company, can provide value from “the bottom up” even to the top, you’ve got the seeds of dynamic professional success and personal fulfillment.

How is the opportunity to influence the community given to each member?
1. Make membership in the community attractive by promoting its many benefits such as finding new friends, working with people you enjoy, developing mastermind groups, creating business opportunities and cutting costs through sharing expenses.
2. Help members get to know each other, and put them in touch through the tools mentioned – profiles, messaging and a member database.
3. Promote initiative through giving each member the ability to create community-building, shared experiences by organizing events, adding them to the community calendar and inviting everyone in the coworking community to attend.

Next steps for your coworking community
While you could develop the tools to create boundaries and opportunities for influence, most won’t have time to reinvent the wheel. Explore existing community-building strategies like those we offer. When you find one that fits your coworking community values, promote it to your early adopters and encourage them to embrace and practice its principles. Dynamic benefits for all are sure to follow!

Knowing and sharing as keys to coworking success


Two of our six core principles for building a strong coworking community are to facilitate:
+ Everyone knowing who is who
+ Shared experiences

These values are essential for healthy human relationships of all types involving any number of people. They’re the roots of a thriving sense of community. Bringing them to the workplace is part of our mission. Now, let’s get practical about these principles.

Knowing who is who
Our community building strategy starts with membership and then facilitates members knowing one another in more than just name. Demonstrated benefits of this approach include the growth of meaningful friendships, the development of the trust needed to share innovative ideas and practices, and the resulting success and personal value for coworking community members.Continue Reading…

Building a Coworking Community: Membership & fulfillment of needs

Creative business people in coworking office


Coworking spaces can be a great way to broaden networks. Yet not all coworking spaces put as much effort and focus into building a community around their space as they would like to. The coworking spaces that are building a community know how valuable it can be. But it’s still a challenge to build a proper community. mr.Watson helps to solve this problem and allows you to easily create a coworking community. We built a platform for spaces to strengthen the network, and we have gathered a lot of knowledge while building it.

In the next few months we will publish a serie of articles around our findings, ideas and questions from the world of coworking spaces. With over 2.5 years experience in the field of creating better communities, and over 3000 members within these communities, we are happy to share what we have learned so far. Starting with the information we found asking ourselves what a community is an when people feel a part of a communityContinue Reading…

How to build a community?

The basis of our product, the heart of the company. But how does community building work? Based on own experiences, activating multiple platforms and the scientific research based on the Sense of Community we come to six pillars to build a strong and powerful community.

+ Membership
Within the Sense of Community theory (Chavis & McMillan, 1986) membership is one of the pillars. We learned that creating boundaries, disclosing the network as a whole and giving people the opportunity to register as a ‘member’ has a positive effect on the sense of community. Having common symbols can add to this feeling as well. But it all start with the opportunity to call yourself a member.Continue Reading…