Global Coworking Unconference Conference (GCUC) 2017 was all about digging deep into the heart of coworking and its extraordinary power to connect people, and transform communities. The first day of the conference included a session with Amrit Dhir from Google for Entrepreneurs, who presented ‘What Google has learned from building hubs for Entrepreneurs across the globe.’
In the session, Amrit began with the notion that coworking spaces harbor people with different backgrounds and experiences. Sharing of these experiences and the learnings goes a long way to foster stronger network and brighter outcomes. Hence, out-and-out communication is a precondition when it comes to being part of a coworking space.
Contradicting to the idea of disposing of competition, Amrit advised to welcome competition and use it as a sign of validation, “that you are in the right place.” To illustrate further, Amrit shared their experience of launching Campus Warsaw. Campus London started its journey five years ago, and back then it was first of its kind. Gathering experience from Campus London, the team launched Campus Warsaw. However, two weeks before the launch announcement there was news of Microsoft collaborating with EY.
“We were sitting in the coworking space just down the street, and I found it so great that there is the validation that we are in the right place.”
More coworking space around indicates that more of their members, fellow founders, and entrepreneurs are entering the region which might contribute to building a huge network.
While speaking about developing the chain according to culture, Amrit came up with the example of Galvanize NYC, who run their coffee shops in the coworking space to make sure that their members are interacting and getting to know the value of the culture there.
Referring to Google Garage, the orator admitted that though everything is virtual and happening online, it still matters to have the responsibility to meet people in person and share views. It also brings us to the idea of diversity at a coworking space which Amrit remarked as super-essential. Certainly, there is no particular formula to bring in diversity, yet he proposed the moderators of coworking spaces to be more inclusive.
Furthermore, Amrit differentiated the concept of Culture from Community, claiming that culture is the set of values that one decide on and perpetuate from the top down throughout his or her society, whereas community springs forth from the ground up. It is important to acknowledge that one cannot over communicate culture. For this reason, it is essential to keep on explaining what one’s culture is because that is when it starts to glue.
The culture is what people come to, why they care about a coworking space and decide to be a part of that community. Thus, if one is uncompromising with culture, he or she should be flexible with the community. To illustrate, Amrit advocated Google’s partner, NUMA’s strategy of engaging Connectors. These Connectors are not hired or paid by NUMA. In fact, they are the influential members of the community who receive free coffees. Anyone who comes in for the first time gets a tour by these Connectors. As a result, keeping the values preserved one gets access to more people and resources.
To promote a coworking space, the speaker suggested to find out the “Badassadors” (Badass+ambassadors) of the community and give them “badass responsibilities” to endorse the brand. After all, “you cannot be your own best ambassador.” To gather feedback regarding the coworking space, Amrit recommended general member meetups, where the members would share their experiences.
Not to mention, if a person is part of a coworking space, it is not that he or she has to be there all the time. In point of fact, he or she gets access to free events and open meetings, which expands the scope of learning.
People do come to coworking space to meet potential partners, founders as well as investors. However, we should acknowledge that people need time to work and not to be disturbed. In this circumstance, according to Amrit, the space design should incorporate “nooks and crannies” to allow people to work without any disruption. On the other hand, there are cafes which are silent, where people are so taken by work that they do not talk to each other. To solve the problem, Amrit and his team came up with another incredible approach- ‘Annoying Hours.’
For an hour a day, everyone is asked to get up and talk to the person sitting next to them or check out apps developed by one of the members. Such disruption is considered efficient and fun.
Just like the human mind, a coworking space has its positive and negative sides. Amrit believes, negative energy spreads, while positivity also spreads. Therefore, administrators, as well as members of coworking spaces, should come forward to support each other and make their community as happy and lively as possible.