Working in a Co-Working Space
For many start-ups, working in a shared workspace is a great bootstrapping solution to reduce fixed expenses. As the Summer Venture Program started last month in Workbar Boston, I have been able to experience what it is like to work in a co-working space.
At Workbar Boston, there are five areas our entrepreneurs have access to: bookable meeting/conference rooms, phone rooms, a quiet study room, the common room, and a café. We use the meeting rooms for our Hot Seat, Lunch & Learn sessions, and office hours. One of my daily exercises is setting up the room by moving the large sliding partitions. The phone rooms and the quiet study rooms are pretty self-explanatory. Our SVP members usually works in the Common area, where they either work as a group or individually. The Café is where people dine, socialize, and relax.
It is great to see many of our entrepreneurs network with other members at Workbar. The ability to network with others is seen by many as one of the greatest advantages of being part of a co-working community. Unlike a traditional office, a co-working office often consists of people who work for various industries, ventures, projects, and often times, have freelancers as well. By talking to one another, individuals become a resource for each other. Most people who are seeking opportunities are extremely willing to offer help. Sparks of wisdom and new ideas are triggered here and many blockers can unexpectedly be solved during a casual conversation. Aside from the benefit of brainstorming and solving problems, members of a co-working community are very passionate about their own projects. In fact, there was a study conducted by Gretchen Spreitzer, a professor of Ross Business School at University of Michigan, indicating that “working amidst people doing different kinds of work can also make one’s own work identity stronger.” This is true at Workbar as well. I found that for many of our SVP members, by giving them the opportunity to frequently talk to different people about what they do and sharing their thoughts, their projects seem to become “more interesting and distinctive.” At the same time, the entrepreneurs themselves become more passionate and confident about what they are pursuing.
Cheryl Centeno, the Space and Community Manager at Workbar Boston, recently shared some of her thoughts about working with a diverse group of people in a shared working space.
What is your role at Workbar?
As you know, I am the Space and Community Manager of this particular location. Each of our locations has a manager, and we are often wearing a few different hats: we are doing everything from membership sales to planning membership based events, and just making sure members are happy on the day to day basis. A lot of our practices come from what our members give us feedback on. There is a lot of flexibility on what we do and how we execute things.
What is a day in a shared working space like?
It’s always different! It’s great in the way that everything from member attendance and events varies, and I got to work with people from so many different backgrounds. We even have members visiting from other Workbar locations. As you can see, it’s interesting to sit next to somebody who works at something that’s completely different form you. There’s also a lot of fun when learning what people do and what their companies are about, especially companies that come here in their beginning phases and see how they progress over times.
How would you describe your experience of working with different start-ups, entrepreneurs, and professionals?
Working with start-ups and many entrepreneurs just get you into that mindset of being passionate and energetic, and it’s pretty motivating. To think that we’ve evolved from a cooperate mindset to more of a start-up mentality. It’s also interesting to learn how people think about the workplace structure. Companies come and go, and it’s always exciting to see some start-ups coming in as a very small venture and then thrive later on. Sometimes it’s a good thing when they leave, and I don’t few said about it, because it often means that their company is growing at such a fast rate.
What is your definition of entrepreneurship?
Entrepreneurship to me, when seeing it first-hand here at Workbar, is really knowing how to come up with an idea and take that through the execution phases. It also means you have to be okay with both successes and failure. Entrepreneurs often times are able to try things that are totally against the norms. A couple of Workbar members come to mind when I think of entrepreneurship. They are constantly coming up with ideas on how to make things better and how to disrupt things, turn these existing things, and then solve the hidden problems.
Anything else people should know about you or Workbar?
I knew nothing about co-working before I joined Workbar. I came from a completely different industry. I definitely made a big turn in my career path. When I just started, I did not really know what to expect, but I did see some values of people working in an open working space and changing their mindset of thinking office just as a place where they are pushed to go and get things done. For me, in particular, I do love coming to work now, and working here has almost become a balanced life. Everything’s new every day. I also want to add one more thing about Workbar’s working environment. Everybody from the management team to the development team, we are all out in the open workspace. It cuts out the hierarchy a little bit, where you don’t see as much of an exclusiveness and separation in a team as much. Everybody is living and working at the product or the service that we ourselves have provide.
Summer Venture Showcase is on Thursday July 27, register now! >>