Building the community
Building working and living spaces at different scales involves engaging a social community. But to build a community you need to promote person-to-person relationships – building connections and collaboration between workers, coworkers, visitors, etc. as well as creating the right atmosphere for interaction, being casual or planned.
Using some of the first individuals and/or companies to help slowly build the network is a way of humanizing the space/project. People relate to other people better than to the space or the project. However, when building a community we must take into account that it’s not only people that build the community in a given space, but also the “space” shapes and influences different dimensions of community development.
When building a community is important to make users involved in the materialization of the space.
- The LXFactory example:
In the beginning of the project first users would decide in plan the area they needed, then they were given a materialized “white box” were they could create their own space, according to their activity and their image. People would feel they were part of the space, because they created it from scratch.
- The Coworklisboa example:
Coworkers take part in the decision making processes concerning space management and become co-responsible for the space they share. Some end up becoming responsible for decision making in certain areas (e.g. Isabel became responsible for the air conditioning system).
Some say building the community precedes building the space, in some cases a pre-existing community migrates into a new space, however there are also cases where the community is built while building the space.
Coworking community management is best undertaken from within, thus community managers should experience being a coworker.
At larger space-scales community managers are hosts/directors/space managers facilitator, connection manager.
A very efficient way of engaging internally and externally is through the promotion of different kinds of activities. Also, it is important to have a constant flow of ideas and fresh contents; constantly adding value to the project with new concepts. Building a community is much more than just collaboration; much more than just attracting the right people it’s all about setting the right “mood”.
There are three fundamental issues in creating and sustaining any project: the idea/concept; implementation (making it happen); and sustaining the idea/project, keeping it alive. Of all three, the most difficult is the third issue and it should not be overlooked. These kinds of projects are “living organisms” they need to be fed with new ideas, there’s always something missing or something that can be added to increase interest.
THE COMMUNITY MEMBERS
Diversity is key when acting on the implementation of third places.
- Lara Seixo Rodrigues – Wool
Is an architect that works as a curator of multiple initiatives related to urban art and multidisciplinary spaces, not only inside the LxFactory space but also around Lisbon, in other Portuguese cities and abroad.
She came to an event at LxFactory in 2007, “felt like home”, and decided to stay and have a space there. “Since day one, I think that everyone I met was through someone else… I shared space with an artist, than he introduced me to other people, at lunch time or specially over coffee and so on.”
- Fernando Mendes – Coworklisboa
Is a designer with a strong background in project and
community management. This (and together with other motivations) made him establish in 2010 together with Ana Dias the first Coworking space in Lisbon. He also teaches at IADE Design School, undertakes a PhD research in design and works regularly as a freelance designer.
It all started with a Facebook group that discussed about the hypothesis of opening a cowork space in Lisbon and it was the initial group of coworkers (of around 25 people) that built the identity of CoworkLisboa. Quoting Fernando “they made the space”
- José Pinho – Ler Devagar
Is a book editor, bookstore owner and cultural manager, which has been developing the Ler
Devagar project since 1997. Today he’s working on the expansion of the “Ler Devagar” network among other activities and projects.
He believes that the ingredients to successful projects like LXFactory have to do with the encounter of the right people, at the right time and with common needs.
- Pedro Sottomayor – Industrial Design
Studied Industrial Design at Istituto Superiore per l’Industrie Artistiche – Italy. Works as an independent designer and as an industrial design consultant. In 2009, founded he’s office – Pedro Sottomayor Design Industrial, for developing projects of industrial products, crafts and cultural events. Industrial designers do blend quite well in the LxFactory environment because they offer services that are complementary of those offered by other companies. Example: 3D companies in the same space offering imaging and computer graphics, rendering services, etc. He was attracted by the LxFactory environment – the perception that being located at LxFactory would facilitate finding clients and his work has been awarded and recognized internationally.
- Sandra Ribeiro – Kiss the Cook
Founded by Sandra Pereira in 2011 Kiss the Cook started with the idea of testing a new concept: cooking as an experience, learning by doing. Her previous experience was as a marketing manager for fast consumer goods. She decided to leave her former job at a large company to dedicate herself full time to this idea. She came to LxFactory through a marketing agency contact that already had a space there.
Kiss the Cook offers unique cooking learning experiences. From Workshops about several cooking themes, to complete cooking master classes, corporate events using cooking for team building.
- The LXFactory example:
Diversity is key
When creating your community you should think of mixing complementary activities. People will naturally resort to the closest solutions, hence creating synergies, building relations, strengthening the whole community.
According to Forbes, research shows that entrepreneurs with larger and more diverse networks grow their businesses bigger.
Strengthen the community
Once the project is created and implemented think of ways to strengthen the community.
- Get to know each of your users: what is their professional activity, what are their soft skills, what are their hobbies, etc.
- Find common interests between them.
- Think of ways to promote and help to build affiliations among companies and/or coworkers of a same space.
- Think of two or three ideas on how to sustain further development.