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(CO)WORKING ENVIRONMENT: It's not you. It's your office

I have been managing Nova Iskra coworking space for over 5 years and during this time there have been many occasions where I had to bust the ongoing myth about coworking spaces not being suitable if you want to do your job in privacy without being interrupted.

That’s why I would like to talk more about how working environments really influence our performance and dive into the real meaning of some buzz words usually associated with working and how we, the people of co-working spaces, perceive them.

DYNAMIC: This is probably the most used and abused word in job postings. “Dynamic working environment”. But it doesn’t have the same meaning for everybody. In regular open office spaces or a system of narrow halls with offices it usually means that you should forget about being left alone to do your job, and that everybody will be constantly interrupting you with this or that. In co-working spaces, what we mean by “dynamic” is usually a “spur of the moment” game of darts on the balcony that you are free to join while waiting for a reply from a client. Or someone’s dog “patrolling” the space in search of petting. Or someone enthusiastically discussing a new idea with a coworker and a resident cat.  If “dynamic” doesn’t go with creative and fun then the word you’re really looking for is “stressful”.

PEACE & QUIET: I am a big fan of non-interrupted, fully focused and concentrated work mode. To achieve that I really like to be left alone to be able to do my job. But I’d rather work on the pavement of the busiest street in any metropolis than in the solitude of an isolated generic office. If peace and quiet mean being disconnected from the outer world, joggling your workload alone without seeing a friendly face (or any face for that matter) than it’s just simple isolation. Healthy environment that creates productive atmosphere without isolating you from the rest of the colleagues is what I’ve come to respect more and more with each year I have been managing Nova Iskra. And as many professionals have told me: isolation leads to procrastination. In co-working spaces everyone’s big on privacy and being able to be their true introvert self (yes, I’m talking about you IT guys :)), but at the same time being surrounded by friendly and creative people thriving at their jobs. We care a great deal about the privacy of teams and companies in our working spaces and that’s why Nova Iskra has extra private offices available, even private floors, so that bigger teams get to keep their own office climate. But the community areas are and will always be open for everyone because we know that networking and sharing a laugh is equally important for businesses and individuals to stay motivated and inspired.

MOTIVATION: If your work environment is slowly eating your soul away then it’s no use trying to motivate yourself because it’s not you. It’s your environment that’s killing even the smallest spark of inspiration you might have. So you have to look for motivation elsewhere. Coworking has showed me that individuals and teams are better at achieving goals if they see other people around them exchanging ideas, cooperating and working hard toward success. It can be especially hard to stay on top of everything and feel motivated if you are running a “one man show” business. That’s why surrounding yourself with professionals from different backgrounds will not invade your privacy or threaten your peace and quiet but quite the contrary - it will boost your motivation.

COOPERATION: Not everyone is a team player, cooperative person, going around striking deals, negotiating offers and pitching ideas. Some people are great at what they do, but struggle when it comes to building sustainable work relationships. I know many people of that kind and that’s why I feel utter happiness when I see how well those people cooperate and communicate when they know that they are “on the safe ground”. Creating a safe work environment, non- judgmental, generally friendly and fun is quite a task. And more often it’s just in the realm of fantasy. But what co-working spaces are great at, it’s that they create a safe environment. It’s easier to cooperate with and have confidence in someone with whom you played darts on the balcony and whose dog you regularly pet than in someone that “looked ok on craigslist” or “has a nice website”.

So my main points when it comes to work environment and how to improve it are:

  1. Privacy, not isolation
  2. Peace & quiet but not disconnection
  3. Inspiring work environment will jumpstart your motivation
  4. Co-working and similar work environments make cooperating and forming connections easier, faster and safer.