What makes our space unique is the presence of community, and the desire to form relationships with our clients. The idea is for clients to sense a feeling of togetherness as they collaborate and work within our space. As relationships form, there will be opportunities to give back to the community in creative and caring ways.
The importance of community in collaborative spaces
The inherent human need for connection, whether professional or social, fuels the dynamic we see as the future focus of the office environment. Members of coworking spaces are able to be a part of something greater than themselves, and coworking space founders are able to form a thriving, evolving business, a truly reciprocal relationship. Coworking spaces are connected to the fabric of the community outside of their own four walls, all the while fostering a very vibrant internal community among their members.
The concept of community
Derived from the Latin communis, which means “things held in common,” community has been more broadly defined as organisms inhabiting a common environment and interacting with one another.
Traditionally, the notion of community has represented a geographically defined entity with common goals, values and implied cooperation. Digital networks, and their rapid expansion, have broken down the geographic barriers that once defined community, and connected people with a convenience and intimacy once only imagined. In this way, technology plays a crucial role in community building as it provides access to information and additional layers of engagement that can improve events and other face-to-face activities.
Whether physical or digital, community is characterized by a sense of belonging, camaraderie, mutual support, motivation, opportunity, and ultimately the sharing of ideals, ideas and resources. In a seminal study, McMillan and Chavis identified four elements of “sense of community”: membership, influence, integration, and shared emotional connection. Sociologist Ray Oldenburg states in The Great Good Place that people need three places to derive meaning and attain connection: the home, the office, and the community hangout or gathering place. He promotes the “immense social value” they impart to a healthy existence.
The commerce of community
A sense of belonging and the concrete experience of social networks can bring significant benefits to both the participants and the managers of the community. The inherent value and cohesion of a network or community is referred to as Social Capital. Increasing evidence shows that social capital is critical for societies to prosper economically and for development to be sustainable. According to The World Bank, “Social networks can increase productivity by reducing the costs of doing business. Social capital facilitates coordination and cooperation.”
Workplace communities serve an important purpose in allowing like-minded entrepreneurs to connect and share experiences, advice and tools to succeed in business. They can access a wealth of information and resources, get support and inspiration, leverage the group for marketing their own products and services, and build meaningful relationships and networks.
Forbes released an article featuring 25 of the top marketing thought leaders who iterated the importance of community through their trends and predictions for the upcoming year:
Vala Afshar, co-author of The Pursuit of Social Business Excellence acknowledges that businesses will need to find ways to engage with their end users in more meaningful ways: “… companies [will] leverage communities as a forum for customers to share their voice and also get answers to their most pressing questions…”
Scott Gerber, founder of Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) advocates the rising importance of meaningful niche communities: “Community will become ever more important… Niche communities created around common interests will thrive so long as they have strong online/offline hybrid models that drive engagement.”
Jeremiah Owyang, Chief Catalyst of Crowd Companies, describes a paradigm shift from audience to activator, consumer to creator, all facilitated by social media and collaborative community platforms: “The rise of collaborative economy [empowers people to] get what they need from each other, rather than buy anew. Corporations that want to be part of this new economy must embrace the same strategies and allow the crowd to become part of their company functions.”