Community is one of the most important aspects of a coworking space. It's one of the reasons why they even exist. It's why we call our residents "citizens" and not members. We, as humans, are social beings. Everyone, even the most introverted of people, need some human interaction (Let's be honest, before I started working at The Bridge I was having full conversations with my dogs). Once a community has been established, everyone involved benefits. People within the community can collaborate, network and help each other become better, more successful entrepreneurs.
I'll start by saying that building a community is not something that just happens. Community is serendipitous by nature; no one has a formula for it, because it's different for every kind of community. We identified this as a need for the space early on, so we first thought about community in the design process. We immediately through out the idea of individual desks. Why? It's pretty simple: we want people to talk. The Bridge was designed as a large open space that people will feel it's okay to just chat with anyone. We built large work tables that comfortably fit four people and all their stuff around them. We have a table that we call the "community table" that is just a fourteen foot open table where anyone can sit to eat, chat, read, work on a project, etc. We built open sitting areas within the main space so people have a place to get away from there computers and talk to each other. Through design, we encourage a lively bustling atmosphere.
People is what builds a community, not some quick and easy gimmicks. We know there is no silver bullet method to building the community. The Bridge was designed and built for the creative entrepreneur. Everyone likes meeting like-minded individuals, and if you get the opportunity to work with them, then you can really learn a lot from one another. A sense of community tends to spark creativity through collaboration. Think about the last time you had an awesome productive meeting with a client or partner. Remember the feeling that comes with that? Excitement, joy, inspiration. Imagine if you could have that kind of collaboration every day! If a great community is established, then that's what it feels like working in a coworking space. This is something that doesn't happen at most companies, and especially not in the living room or basement of a freelancer or solopreneur, so that is why we made it one of the focal points for our new space.
We do not have the formula for the perfect community, but we push everyday for a more inclusive, inspirational, creative and collaborative space.