The Six Principles of Community in a Shared Workspace

The success of shared workspace is built on the same principles of interaction essential to the well-being of all human communities. Most of us have experienced their benefit on a practical level. The importance of the principles has also been demonstrated through compelling scientific research.

What are these principles of community building, and why are they important.

  1. Membership: To be a member is to be part of the whole, to be connected and included and to have the same value as other members. It is the antidote to isolation and creates a mutual identity that each person can embrace.
  1. Who is Who: The benefits of membership are optimized through relationship. A successful community building strategy facilitates interaction on practical, personal and professional levels.
  1. Boundaries: A sense of community brings the whole together with a shared identity and provides effective social and professional networking on personal and group bases.
  1. Influence: In healthy communities, everyone is given a voice. They are encouraged to take initiative, and their ideas, concerns, suggestions and plans heard when they do.
  1. Fulfillment of Needs: For the newly formed community to thrive, members must receive tangible benefits they would not have if not connected. Successful community builders employ tools for producing:
  • Practical benefits such as scheduling rooms and equipment in the shared work space
  • Social advantages such as new friendships and group activities
  • Career benefits such as professional development and new business opportunities
  1. Shared Experience: These are the building blocks of a thriving community. Healthy coworking networks are designed with easy-to-use applications for one-to-one and group gatherings across the social-professional spectrum.

An effective community building platform is designed with features that organically weave these principles into the practical experience of all who share the coworking space.

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…