Creating a coworking space can be both an exciting and daunting prospect – there is so much to think about and even more to be done.
But fear not! The Coworking Canvas provides a helpful framework for you and your team to build a successful coworking business.
It is based on over a decade of research, experience and testing in our own business and amongst the global coworking movement’s pioneers and leaders. It articulates the fundamental values and activities of this unique business model – no matter what size of space you chose.
The Coworking Canvas highlights three simple but hugely impactful core values shared by all quality coworking businesses around the world:
Belonging: People discover their potential and gain resilience when they develop a true sense of belonging.
Nurturing: People and businesses grow and endure when talent, relationships and opportunities are nurtured.
Place-making: Communities thrive when people, spaces and places create a joined-up ecosystem.
6 Essential Elements of Coworking Success
The six essential elements of the Coworking Canvas represent the core ‘ingredients’ any quality coworking business needs to provide its clients. They can be examined individually or slotted together to view the business from different perspectives.
It may sound obvious, but you’re not a “coworking space” without having a space for people to work from.
It might be an office space, a maker space, a kitchen space – but what makes the difference is providing the right types of environments within your physical space, in the right proportions, along with the best tools and resources to meet the everyday needs of your specific community.
Designing the space is critical to get right – for your members’ businesses to flourish, for your own team to work effectively, for your community to engage with each other, and for you to earn sufficient income.
Hosting is a complex role comprising a range of key functions: receptionist, security guard, general fixer of things. But the cornerstone of hosting is getting to know who’s in your community – whether they are in your space five days a week or only drop in occasionally.
Actively hosting and developing people’s connections and relationships is key to creating a community and a true sense of belonging – and making sure they keep coming back!
You’re just a workspace if you only provide a desk… so as a quality coworking space, how do you help your members to develop themselves and their businesses?
Providing a variety of opportunities for learning builds your members’ intellectual capital and will help them grow their businesses, strengthen their relationships and deepen their loyalty to your space.
4. PEER SUPPORT
Peer Support is all about developing a great culture in your space and community. It is also about building your members’ social capital – the connections that spark the fires and make things happen.
Simple things like people offering each other a cup of tea, being there for support when someone’s having a bad day, or knowing who to ask for a solution to a particular problem.
Boosting your members’ opportunities to expand their networks through your space is a core function of the value quality coworking can provide in a community.
You need to be an ‘earpiece’ and a ‘loudspeaker’ in order to help develop the networks and profile of your members.
Finally, Co-location is about making a conscious choice to bring together people that share values, interests or needs in order to add value by their close proximity.
At The Melting Pot, for example, we focus on people who are innovating for social change. Other coworking businesses might decide to co-locate technology companies, artisans or people from a geographically defined area.
How do you Use the Coworking Canvas?
The Coworking Canvas is designed to let you play with your ideas, so grab some sticky notes and markers and get stuck in!
A simple way to begin is to print out a PDF of the Canvas and use it in your next team meeting.
And here are some questions to get the ideas flowing…
- SPACE: How do you practically design your space – including using it to communicate your values, beliefs and culture to your members and prospective members?
- HOSTING: What hosting practices will add significant value to your space and community?
- LEARNING: How do you provide opportunities for your members to share their knowledge, and bring expertise in from outside your community?
- PEER SUPPORT: How do you build that warm and inclusive culture that your members wouldn’t get if they were working alone at home, or from a lonely serviced office environment?
- NETWORK: How do you find out what your members’ needs are, help them make connections and build their networks?
- CO-LOCATION: Are you choosing to bring together a specific group of people? How can you spark potential value and develop a sense of belonging to your unique community?
If you are a coworking hub founder or budding placemaker and need some help – at any stage of your journey – The Melting Pot’s Consultancy service and e-tools draw on 18 years of experience and expertise running a successful coworking hub in the heart of Edinburgh. Our Founder, Claire Carpenter, was a global pioneer of the coworking movement. There’s nothing she doesn’t know about coworking!