Community is a personal favorite of the coworking core values, and perhaps one of the most misunderstood or most often taken for granted.
It’s easy to make mistakes around the idea of community. Experts in the field of sociology can’t even agree on a definition, Wikipedia mentions that by the 1950′s there were nearly 100 “discrete definitions”. Instead of getting mired in clinical discussion, there’s one thing that matters:
It’s about the people.
In the context of coworking, though, I believe that a focus on community means putting emphasis on people, their interactions, and the relationships that form between them above everything else. At Indy Hall, every decision we make considers each other as members, and the opportunities to interact with one another.
We > Me
We organize events and develop experiences that encourage each other to explore our shared interests in and outside of work. Show and Tell, Lunch & Learns, and Happy Hours provide a spectrum of formal and informal opportunities to step away from the desk and get to know another coworker.
We share rituals and experiences that allow new members to join our tribe and develop camaraderie.
We broadcast our favorite places to hang out outside of our clubhouse so that you can easily gather with other members on your own.
We attend and support other events and initiatives together (and we try to avoid rolling as a “click”), both enhancing them with the sense of “togetherness” that we bring but also showing the uninitiated that our “togetherness” is accessible to them .
We learn, share, grow, play, experiment, celebrate together. We commiserate and console each other as well.
Our clubhouse is a tool
Our coworking space is just that – a space. It’s not a community without people in it.
We think about Coworking as a “clubhouse”, and I think that language is more accurate of a description than “office”. But it’s important to remember that in order for a clubhouse to be useful, a club – a community – should be in need of a home.
Co-founder’s note: I don’t own this community, I belong to this community.
“I often say that I absolutely love that I can come to Indy Hall as a member, far more than I care about coming to Indy Hall as an owner. The oft-forgotten truth is that coworking space owners can get the same benefits from coworking as the members do, mostly due to the fact that we ourselves are (or should be) good community members as well.”
– Alex Hillman, Indy Hall co-founder
Communities of Trust
If relationships between members are like tendons, then trust is the the muscle that makes a community strong and healthy.
We start by trusting each other, and knowing that sets a stage where trust is a valued part of being in this community. When you start a relationship off on one where you don’t trust others, you can’t ever expect them to trust you, either.
No two communities are identical
I wouldn’t ever encourage somebody to replicate Indy Hall, nor do I think it’s really replicate-able. Instead, I urge people to learn from the lessons we’ve learned, share some of our ideas, but interpret them to fit their community .
I personally think that the coolest thing is that communities, like the people in them, have personality. Squelching that personality is a waste – instead, we embrace it.