In order for communities to thrive in the long-term, the community needs to come together over a shared purpose—a “why”.
At the base level, coworking starts as a way for businesses and entrepreneurs to share expenses. The shared space makes it easier for everyone to conduct business—but our “why” goes beyond just a space.
More than ever, I am reminded of the ways that coworking grows community, and the reasons why we need each other:
No single person ever has all of the answers. But inevitably, with so many diverse solopreneurs, remote employees, and businesses at any coworking space, someone has skills you need. Regardless of the amount of “Google-fu” you may have, consulting with experts who know about your particular situation gives you the most valuable, relevant information.
Several of our members host Meetups on various topics. Some of the groups include ACM Atlanta along with the East Atlanta WordPress group has been sharing skills for several years. Before COVID, these Meetups were hosted in person and now Alkaloid sponsors a Zoom channel to keep the sharing ongoing.
Teaching and Guiding
Not only do your fellow coworkers have strengths you may not, but they also may have the skills that can help you improve your skills. Our community openly shares knowledge and works together to develop shared expertise in many different areas.
For instance, we’ve been hosting “Mastermind Sessions” during the pandemic (access to previous sessions can be found on YouTube channel or our blog). These sessions have showcased some of the valuable skills members of our talented community bring to the table, from branding to SEO. You can also check out some of the insights from one of our web development members.
In shared spaces, people from different backgrounds and industries with a common agenda have the opportunity to come together and create something greater than the sum of its parts. The Mainline magazine and podcast, for example, works out of Alkaloid and several members contribute as collaborators.
We all deserve some much-needed fun in our work lives. At Alkaloid, we host events like game night (with crowd-favorites like Carcassonne or Pandemic), and movie night (perhaps Groundhog Day or a Noir Night with the local Classic Film Fans club). We’ve even hosted Sofar Sounds and Found Stages performances here to add to the vibrancy of our space.
From our two members who frequently provide a new meme on a dry-erase wall to the spontaneously funny conversations had around the office, our shared space provides plenty of opportunities to make our work week fun. We’ve transferred some of those conversations to our Slack channel while we physically-distance ourselves.
Our divergent world views and experiences mean that we all approach the exact same problem slightly differently. I truly believe that when you are working within a community of like-minded people, the wisdom from that crowd is considerably greater than any one person working alone.
There are so many talented and skilled people here at Alkaloid who inspire me! For example, Alkaloid is home to Shut Up Mary Podcast Productions and NoUsual, a video production company (who made the video on Alkaloid’s home page).
And we’ll all been inspired by one of our members that has been contributing to Atlanta Beats COVID for these past months by sewing masks, gowns, face shields, and constructing ventilators.
When working alone, it’s oftentimes too easy to give up when things get hard. By surrounding yourself with others working hard toward their own goals, you can receive motivation, support, and friendly competition to push yourself just a bit further than you would have on your own.
Accountability can be as simple as showing up to start your day when you know someone expects to see you. Or, in the case of one of my members, he and I create accountability when we check in each morning and commit to getting a task (or tasks) done by the end of the day. Even if that means we check in on Slack.
While we obviously are all working hard on our businesses and projects right now, we can’t forget what else we may need to do that work: emotional support. It’s vital for our community to be able to connect and support one another when we face challenges, such as a death in the family or struggling for business during the pandemic.
Additionally, months into the pandemic, the loneliness that’s always been below the surface is even more extreme. It is critical to address loneliness and support relationship-building, even when we’re physically distant. Especially when we are physically distant.
Being there for each other can be as simple as having a sharing something that makes you happy on the Slack channel or scheduling a coffee to check in with how someone’s doing. We suffer when connection isn’t available, and we thrive when we feel connected and supported by each other.
Our coworking community has always found meaning in coming together to work. However, especially in these challenging times, it’s more important than ever to remember the “why” driving this community: we need each other.