Can cowork culture be all inclusive?

Culture. It helps us to determine who we are and who our friends are, but it can also act as a social divider between those we identify as like ourselves and those who may seem different. So, is it possible to create an inclusive CoWork culture that unifies all?

Culture shapes our attitudes and behaviors in a variety of ways. Cultural norms define what is acceptable and what is not when it comes to how we behave in certain environments. When aligned with our personal values, needs, and drives it can unite us in achieving a shared vision. A feat that inevitably leads to greater success. 

“Culture makes people understand each other better. And if they understand each other better in their soul, it is easier to overcome the economic and political barriers. But first, they must understand that their neighbor is, in the end, just like them, with the same problems, the same questions”, quotes Pablo Coelho.

But to create a common vision or culture among a diverse variety of individuals, you must first understand what drives them.

Research has shown that the modern-day solopreneur, business owner, freelancer, millennial is looking for work that offers more than just money and status. They’re looking to connect to a higher purpose. To join conscious social environments, that value ideas over things, are diverse and inclusive, offer growth and engagement, and a better work life balance. These futurists aren’t looking to be told what to do but instead united by a common purpose to support the society in which they flourish.  

A recent study recited in Harvard Business Review noted that cross pollination, between individuals with diverse work backgrounds, fosters greater creativity, innovation, and engagement. Villa Bonne Nouvelle, a new coworking space in Silicon Valley, houses many Orange employees among its members. Employees who, after working in the cowork environments, worked better and faster than their colleagues who had not been part of the cowork, and reported greater engagement and work satisfaction.

So how are these environments able to support corporate employees and more traditional cowork members?

Through a tailored on-boarding process that emphasizes cultural vision, values and a mutual understanding of respect.

“For inclusive culture models to work, you need to get the right people through the door. People who believe in what you are trying to build. Individuals who recognize the value of collaboration and its impact on personal and professional growth” says Chris Cooley, CIO and CoWork expert at Evelo Agency, Rochester.

But doesn’t selectivity indicate that the community is in fact not inclusive?

Not necessarily.  Like any brand, CoWorks are designed to attract specific audiences and any individual joining a group that is dissimilar to themselves is likely to self-eradicate. If you’ve ever gone to an engagement where everyone was interested in a common topic, for example, art, and you were not, you’d quickly remove yourself from the environment. Not that you aren’t able to adapt to the situation if you so choose, but because you shouldn’t have to. Collaboration shouldn’t be hard work. It should be effortless, and if there isn’t a common thread to connect us, then we loose interest quickly and move on.

“Inclusivity to us is ensuring that everyone’s opinion is heard. That no idea aimed at improving or providing the community with opportunity is left unexplored,” says Craig Webster, owner of MetroCoWork. Respect for each other’s ideals, efforts and differences are also key. “We are all different in our own way, and it is in celebrating and respecting those differences that we can thrive. As human beings, and as business professionals.”

So, yes. Creating a culture of inclusivity that houses a diversity of minds under a single umbrella is possible. It just takes hard work, a dedication to the cause, and the willingness to adapt and change according to the needs of the individuals who make up the community.

But a CoWork culture won’t be right for everyone. If you’ve got a vision in mind the only way to succeed is to find others who believe in that vision. Diversity is vital as is a level of group inclusivity, but all inclusive isn’t always a possibility. Some individuals will get left out. But as the landscape of the world we live in changes, so too should the methods we use to achieve our goals.

Do you think all inclusive cultures are possible?

MetroCoWork offers several cowork locations. While a common culture provides the umbrella for our vision, each environment is designed for individuals from different walks of life to enable connection in familiar ways.

Are you ready to join the movement?