Some days ago I met Hyekyung from Hive Arena. She could speak English well, so it’s a big relief for me as we could discuss together. She helped me pointed out coworking spaces location around Seoul, as well as explained the condition here. It’s surprising: coworking spaces are growing, but not the community. “Some of these are just spaces – they don’t build the community,” as she pointed out it to me.
In an article written by Priesnitz (2013) in Natural Life, coworking spaces described as a business model based on openness, collaboration, accessibility, sustainability, and community. I can sum up, the value of being in coworking space is working together collaboratively as a community. Although each person might undertake different tasks and jobs, however it is important to notice that these people seek coworking spaces for social interactions. Sharing is on the base of The ladder of community activity as in the model developed by Katy Jackson (2013). She put sharing at the bottom line of this model, followed by collective action and cooperation. Katy Jackson also summarized it as follows,
Community is the key to the new workplace, culture is king – A shared goal and identity, where the individual CAN be an individual is what separates the new from the old workplace. Everyone can be an instigator.
In community driven coworking spaces I found around Seoul, they regularly held events among their members and even public. Some events even sponsored or cooperate with institution, such as government to promote certain agenda. Currently I joined Korea Play Now at Idea Factory every Saturday, as this event is intended for foreigners to interact with Korean culture and people. This is such an amazing opportunity for me to meet new people within my busy days and activities.
What do events mean to these coworking spaces? It’s not just spaces. Some people misunderstand the conception of coworking spaces as merely working spaces with open layout and chic cafe-like interior design. Well, it could be true. But without any community engagement within those spaces, they will miss the collaborative value. We understand what is it means to be an adult: being cautious and having so many prejudices. Even being put into a spaces, working side by side with others, we need something to urge us to interact with the others, such as these interactive events.
It is actually easy to engage people in activities. We don’t really need fancy events with fancy people dressing in fancy fashion. Give them what they do need; know who is your target audiences. If you work with many IT related sector, involved them in latest tech-savvy discussion. If you work with artist and designer, held training or coach them with portfolio making.
But I think they could browse it up in the internet. Even with the presence of internet, to participate in an event is still important. There are some people who might not aware of something, and they will get informed through the community. Events also lead to discussion, which in further lead to new ideas. Here is the perk: these formally organized events lead to informal talk, which is important as catalyst in coworking spaces. And this is how I define “co” in coworking: collaborative and community.
Jackson, Katy. Making Space for Others. (2013). Digital.
Priesnitz, Wendy. “The Coworking Movement.” Natural Life Sep/Oct 2013 2013: 6-7. Print.