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Coworking Core Values 5 of 5: Collaboration

3 minute read
by Alex Hillman

This post is part 5 of a 5 part series exploring the 5 core values of coworking: CollaborationOpenness, CommunityAccessibility, and Sustainability.

2 months overdue, but the final chapter of my coworking core values series.

I’ve written and rewritten this draft, and every time I come back to it I remember this post from Derek Neighbors:

You can’t do collaboration, you have to be a collaborator. __I think this is poingant for a number of reasons – not the least of which is that it fits my own mental model for coworking so well. Coworking works because it throws away so many of the bad habits we’ve learned and puts the focus back on the people again.

Collaboration isn’t something you do, it’s the biproduct of being a better collaborator.

Trust & High Contact

In my essay on Community as a coworking core value, I mentioned communities of trust. Coworking spaces allow for there to be a focus on the formation of trust and deeper relationships between coworkers, because office politics, hierarchies, and succession planning are removed from the equation.

Going one step further, coworking creates opportunities for people to interact in a “high contact” environment. The serendipitous nature of a coworking space means that people are often spending far more face time with each other than in an office where people only interact when they need to.

Learning by Example

Coworking spaces are great places to learn how to be a better collaborator. The founders of the best coworking spaces tend to look to their members as collaborators more than customers – an important model in Indy Hall’s success. The members who work together – not just with each other but with the space itself – tend to have the deepest bond with the community. New members see this as something they want and can have for themselves, and along the way not only learn how to model good collaborator behaviors from other members but become new models themselves.

Learning to Ride a Bike

Learning to ride a bike alone is a painful series of trials and errors. While you might’ve watched somebody else do it, you’re likely to fall and scrape your knee on your first try. Teaching somebody to ride a bike, however, requires them to be a good collaborator more than it requires them to be a good teacher. They need to guide you, support you, and help you find your own “balance”. It requires that the new rider trusts their instructor/collaborator, and spend a fair amount of time together.

The collaborators that work in coworking spaces are very similar. Good collaborators earn trust first. They spend a lot of face time together with their peers. They don’t instruct, but instead guide, support, and help you find your own way.

In the best collaborator relationships, it’s a two way street – each person has the ability to provide that experience for the other at some point in their time together.

Coworking provides one of the best natural environments for this to happen.

Want more? Here are my other essays on the core values: CollaborationOpennessCommunityAccessibility, and Sustainability

To the comments!

This is my perspective on collaboration as it pertains to coworking. What’s yours? Leave a comment below.


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Alex Hillman I am always thinking about the intersection of people, relationships, trust and business. I founded Indy Hall in 2006, making us one of oldest fully independent coworking communities in the world. This site is packed with the lessons and examples I’ve learned along the way. You can find me on Twitter, too! 🐦 Say hi.