Inclusivity is important. It means an organization is making a genuine effort to invite absolutely everyone into the conversation, regardless of age, gender, race, politics, ability, income, or any other factor.
In coworking, inclusivity is a trending topic at industry events and within coworking communities. Oliver Marlow, who designs coworking software and is a vocal advocate for coworking, says spaces should reflect the inclusive nature of the original coworking concept. They should put the “co” in “coworking.”
So, how can you tell if your coworking community is inclusive? Here are some signs.
The first sign is right before your eyes: space. An inclusive environment is physically set up to invite emotional openness by having wide open spaces for people to gather.
When you enter the coworking community, how does it feel? Is it physically restrictive? Or is it open and welcoming? Pay attention to your gut reaction. Evaluate whether the space makes you feel too claustrophobic or anxious to enjoy being there.
Space is also important because it allows people to move freely through the environment, regardless of body size or physical limitations. This is especially important if you will be inviting clients to the space to meet up with you. Could anyone feel comfortable there?
The coworking community’s culture is also a key part of inclusivity. Ask the coworking representative what the culture is like. Is it laid back or more buttoned-up? Are new people welcomed with open arms?
It’s important to know whether collaboration is part of the culture. Some of the biggest benefits of coworking are finding fresh inspiration, networking with new people, and boosting your sociability.
Are those benefits built into your coworking community’s culture? If not, maybe you’re in the wrong place.
Look around the space for a bulletin board of community events, or ask around to see what’s coming up. Community events are a great indication of an inclusive community.
Many coworking communities offer frequent all-inclusive events, where everyone is welcome to attend. Join a newcomers group or stop by a meet-and-greet for the whole community.
You can also keep an eye out for events and clubs that suit your individual needs. Maybe the community has a women’s seminar, a Latino organization, or a monthly meeting dedicated to diversity.
The more events, the better. Inclusivity is about having a long list of options so everyone feels equally well-served.
Inclusive Pricing Options
Let’s not forget about pricing. Part of inclusiveness is inviting people of all income levels to participate. What are the community’s pricing options?
At the very least, it should offer various packages or levels of membership. That way, you can try a low-cost option to see if you feel comfortable there, then opt into additional services if needed.
Free parking is a good indication that your coworking community is trying to be inclusive about pricing and accessibility. The same goes for free tours and trial periods for people who may be interested in joining.
Social Media Connectivity
Is the community active on social media? This isn’t just a question of being sociable – it’s also a question of being inclusive.
Social media has the potential to be inclusive or exclusive, depending on how people use it. Social posts can establish trust and friendship just as easily as they can be used for outright bullying.
How does the coworking community use its social media accounts? Does it seem like everyone is being invited into the conversation? Take a look, and let this be a factor in your decision about joining.
On-Site Staff and Security
Finally, an important factor in inclusivity is whether the space is safe and secure for everyone inside. It’s hard to relax when you’re in a space that makes you feel threatened.
Look around the coworking space for basic security features like locks, passcodes, alarms, and wall signs that explain what to do in emergencies. Is there someone at a staff desk? What hours is security on site? Who should you contact after hours?
The coworking staff should always make you feel at ease and protected in the space. With the right perspective about inclusivity, everyone feels like part of the community.
To learn more about coworking in California, connect with Victory Workspace. We’re at the forefront of building inclusive coworking communities.