Community Involvement in Coworking: Volunteering for Work Trade
The concept of coworking is expanding, and many spaces include some element of work trade or volunteering in coworking. In many cases, this comes in the form of a member in the space volunteering some of their time to work for the space itself, whether that is as a receptionist or another function. In return, that member would get a free or heavily discounted membership, acting as a work trade.
The idea of volunteering helps to create a sense of the coworking community since members who volunteer are involved in the day-to-day functionality and have more of a vested interest in the space. Everyone involved benefits from the situation, which is why more spaces have begun offering this type of work trade.
Work Trade in Coworking
Those who want to participate in coworking via a work trade should have no shortage of options to choose from. Many spaces offer some sort of system for this type of trade, although it varies based on the coworking company.
HatchLab has posted listings for this type of volunteer position in exchange for membership.
Gangplank takes volunteering in coworking to the next level. It offers a free coworking space, but all members volunteer. They can either volunteer to run the space itself or work on another project that the city government provides. There are already locations throughout the United States and Canada, and Gangplank is willing to expand with the help of community enthusiasts.
Blogfabrik in Berlin takes a different approach, offering membership in exchange for writing two articles each month for the space’s online publication. Members also promote their own articles, and they each organize one event per year. This space also lets members work with Kiosk to get paid for additional work.
Benefits of Work Trade for Coworking
There are numerous benefits associated with a work trade in coworking for all parties involved. Those who choose to participate in volunteering in coworking will receive some rewards for their contributions, such as a free or discounted membership. This can be a significant advantage to those with limited budgets, particularly entrepreneurs.
From the perspective of the space itself, they will have knowledgeable receptionists or hosts in their space who understand how it functions. This means that if someone comes in with questions about the space to see if it is right for them, the host can tell them about their own positive personal experience. There is no need for a depersonalized script since those introducing potential members choose to use the space themselves and understand the benefits.
Additionally, because the space’s hosts and receptionists are members, there is less training necessary before those positions are filled. While the coworking company still needs to show them specific processes for signing people up and completing other tasks, they do not need to explain to hosts where items are in the space or how it works since their membership experience already gave them that information.
The fact that the hosts or community managers in a space with work trades are also members means that they have a vested interest in the space, as mentioned above. Since these members want to continue using the coworking space, they are likely to make an extra effort to ensure that everyone has a positive experience there and it continues to thrive.
Additionally, volunteering or having a work trade increases the number of interactions members have with each other in an organic manner. This helps improve the sense of a coworking community. Not only does that community feeling enhance the overall atmosphere of a space, but it also makes it more likely that members will turn to each other for assistance and collaboration when necessary, one of the goals of coworking.