August 2021 IDEA Challenge

Be the Change: Living our Coworking Values

August’s IDEA Challenge is facilitated by Christian Cordes & Johanna Voll.

The IDEA Project is a global initiative aimed at developing Inclusivity, Diversity, Equity and Accessibility (IDEA) within coworking and collaborative spaces. Each month, we will host a challenge that assists you in broadening your understanding of IDEA, whilst giving clear actions for you to take to develop IDEA within your space.

Challenge #7 – Be the Change: Living our Coworking Values

Coworking is a movement and has been promoting the benefits of a lively coworking culture for the past 15 years. For this year’s international
Coworking Day on August 9, we want to take a look at this worldwide movement. Many core resources have been helping space founders and people in the coworking world to support each other with a true community spirit, that coworking stands for. Mainly driven by a decentral network of activists, different networks – international, national and regional ones – have emerged. In addition, there is a diverse spectrum of conferences and gatherings, where thought leaders openly exchange ideas and discuss the state of the coworking movement. Nevertheless, with an increased interest in the topic, we notice an almost inflationary use of the term coworking. 


Buzzword Coworking – everything becomes coworking

In short: Not everywhere where it states coworking, is actually filled with the approach to value based coworking for which we as a movement stand. Based on the lived coworking culture, it is possible to differentiate to what extent a coworking space can be identified as such. In the scientific literature on the subject there are different approaches and attempts at a typology of different spaces. 


We do not measure space just in square meters – community is our currency 

We would like to underline the distinction between the term coworking and shared offices (rather permanent rental forms of an existing group on a long-term basis) and business centers or serviced offices. In addition, there are workspace concepts from mostly large companies that offer flexible workplace options for their own employees within an existing organizational structure. But: New furniture and their arrangements have nothing in common with a new work culture.


Coworking Values – Vision or Reality?

Some operators of coworking spaces refer to the common values. Against the background of rapidly expanding coworking chains, it becomes clear that these values ​​are interpreted differently and are incorporated into the respective concepts, if at all. 


Do the coworking values need a makeover? 

Is IDEA represented enough within those values? Well, it depends if and how you really live them within your coworking space apart from being a fancy word stated on your website. Don’t get us wrong, you do not have to commit 100% to every aspect of these values, but as Chris Cordes explains, there are some crucial aspects. We have collected a few questions to reevaluate the meaning of these values for your coworking communities:


  • Community & Collaboration
    • How is your approach to community building within your space? 
    • How do you collect feedback from your community?
    • How do you interact with each other, if at all?
    • How do you encourage collaboration among your coworkers?


  • Openness & Accessibility: 
    • How accessible is your space, on a physical level but also in terms of other restrictions (financial, gender, age, profession, etc.)? 

     ➜ To dive deeper into this topic, check out the May 2021 challenge about various levels of accessibility.

  • Sustainability:
    • Which measures do you take in order to contribute to more ecological sustainability (i.e. towards global climate targets)? 
    • In what way are you contributing to the economic sustainability of your space or your coworkers’ businesses? 
    • How sustainable with regards to health aspects do you operate your space? This might include your own self-care as well as psychological and physiological health aspects. 
    • How safe is it to work in your coworking space


Inclusivity as a new Coworking Value? 

As we have seen above the values ideally go hand in hand and are intertwined. We do recognize voices calling for inclusivity as an expansion to the values of accessibility and openness. Within the IDEA project we encourage every discussion that brings these topics to the spotlight that they deserve. Ideally, the values of inclusiveness and diversity are not so much seen as an added ingredient to a community, and therefore already an immanent part of all – from the beginning.


Take the August Summer Challenge now

Engage in a value conversation with your team & coworking community. 

Check your website for the coworking value buzzword factor.

Let’s discuss your experiences in our IDEA Call on August 25th – SIGN UP HERE

Thank you to the German Coworking Federation, our August IDEA Challenge Sponsor

The German Coworking Federation operates according to the 5 basic values of coworking (openness, accessibility, sustainability, community and collaboration) and connects, inspires, informs, represents and qualifies people in the context of a coworking culture. It sees itself as their interest group in the German-speaking area.

August 25th 2021
9:00 AM Pacific | 12:00 PM Eastern
5:00 PM BST | 6:00 PM CEST

Johanna Voll

Johanna Voll

German Coworking Federation

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