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Inspiring Company Culture in Coworking Spaces

Samantha Intagliata
Director of Marketing and Communications
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alleys coworking space with coworkers

It’s no secret that company culture is important. In fact, a 2018 study by Gallup found that positive company culture can increase revenue by 33% just by attracting and retaining top-tier talent.

If your business operates in a shared working environment, company culture is just as vital. What’s more, your company – and other entrepreneurial startups - are in a unique position to leverage your coworking space to build an even stronger, more inspiring company culture for your team and your clients.

Coworking doesn’t hinder company culture; it helps.

Contrary to what many people assume, building and maintaining company culture can actually be easier in a coworking space. The Harvard Business Review found that, compared to those with remote employees or traditional office spaces, coworking companies tended to inspire a greater sense of thriving and flexibility.

A multitude of factors play into this fact, but one of the simpler reasons is this: Working in a shared office puts your business on display. Whether you share a room with one other team or a larger space with many, your company culture is always at the forefront.

For employees, this cultivates a sense of pride and the opportunity to share success with others. Traditional office spaces don’t accomplish this, as company culture is largely “shown off” to only those within the organization.

What is your vision?

In his book “Start with Why,” Simon Sinek emphasizes the importance of understanding not what you do but why you do it. This concept is integral in cultivating a top-notch company culture. The first step toward creating a great company culture is understanding the “why” behind your business.

Before you launch an effort to build a culture employees will love, envision what you want it to be.

The answer to these questions (and others like them) will help you define your company’s vision:

  • What is your company’s mission?
  • What are your company values?
  • What are a few words that describe your company culture?
  • How do you want others to see your company?
  • What motivates your company (and its people) to be the best they can be?

The next step is more tangible. Once you understand your vision, display it prominently in your workspace. This could be in the form of a poster or a one-sheeter handout out each team member can keep on his or her desk. Design a branded computer desktop background or lock screen with your mission and make it available for employees; create a graphic with your company values and display it on TV screens in your office space; customize your team’s email signatures to include your values.

The possibilities are endless, but the key is finding an easy way to remind your team why they are there and to keep that vision at the forefront of their minds every day.

Create brand awareness in your coworking space.

When it comes to attracting customers, brand awareness is a no-brainer. What many people fail to realize, though, is that brand awareness is important inside your company culture, too.

In fact, brand awareness is as much for employees as it is for customers.

One of the easiest ways to build brand awareness is through company swag. Set aside a portion of your budget to create branded items for your employees to use throughout the office. People love free stuff, especially when it gives them a sense of identity and belonging.

Here are a few easy and practical ways to brand your office space:

  • Mugs with your brand logo so your team can enjoy their coffee (or tea!) while representing your company
  • Hoodies or jackets with your logo and brand colors
  • Branded throw blankets to keep your team warm while they #represent your company
  • Water bottles with your brand colors and logo (or a quote from your company vision)

Additional, economical options include branded mouse pads, pens, sticky notes, and notebooks. Just like your company vision, the possibilities for branding your space are virtually endless.

Brand employee onboarding, too.

Bringing on a new employee is exciting, and you can use the opportunity to create additional buzz around the office for your brand. To get buy-in from new hires, put together a branded swag bag for their first day.

This could include any of the items listed above, or additional things a new team member might find useful on their first day such as a tote, company tee shirt, and handout explaining your business culture and mission statement.

Not only will you help new hires feel welcome, but you’ll let them know that company culture is important and they are an integral part of it.

Plan a team outing (or two!)

Company outings are a great way to improve team culture. In the past decade, many businesses - especially startups - have moved away from the “it’s just a job” mentality.

By creating a culture where employees feel valuable, welcomed, and engaged, you don’t just increase your team’s happiness but their effectiveness as well. The best part? Outings don’t have to be expensive. Whether you want to fund a funtivity for your employees or plan a casual “pay your own way” outing, a few simple ideas include:

  • Dinner
  • Movies
  • Happy Hour
  • Bowling
  • Pottery Painting
  • Escape Rooms

Team outings are more than just fun; they are an opportunity for your company culture to growth and thrive. At the end of the day, your team defines your company culture. The best way to let them do this is by cultivating an environment where they learn about each other, appreciate each other’s’ diverse interests and personalities, and create a sense of comradery outside the office.

Follow this rule if your team is new to company outings:

If your company is new to team outings, encourage a “no shop talk rule.” It’s easy to talk about things you have in common, so if your team members haven’t gotten to know each other outside of work, they might default to discussing work projects or clients. The best company cultures, though, are the ones where employees feel happy and comfortable getting to know their teammates on a personal level when they’re off the clock.

Optimize your desk arrangement.

One of the benefits of working in a shared office is the chance to meet new people and get perspectives from individuals you wouldn’t otherwise meet. While you can’t control who shares your office space (and that’s a good thing!) you can control your company’s desk arrangement in your allotted space.

There are a few things to take into consideration here, including workflow, noise, and personalities. The easiest place to start is workflow.

Analyze your client or product lifecycle. Who owns what piece? Then, arrange your workspace to accommodate that workflow. If your team is on the smaller side, this will be a relatively simple process. If you have six or more team members, you may need to consider additional factors:

  • Who needs to talk on the phone the most?
  • Does any need to “plug in” and work without distraction? (Developers, writers, etc.)

The goal is to create a space that allows people to collaborate with those around them. By putting a little extra care into the desk arrangement of your office space, you can make your happier and in turn more productive.

Track success and celebrate wins.  

Every company has a goal. For most, the ultimate goal is raising the bottom line. Your key performance indicates (KPIs) will determine how you reach that goal. Even the most diverse pool of positions - from creative director to developers - share this singular objective.

In addition to benchmarking the success of your business, tangible goals are a great way to unify your team. Consider placing a TV monitor in your space to track progress for larger, long-standing goals. When you hit them, everyone can celebrate together.

Other ways to make winning part of your company culture:

  • Make sure your company objectives are clear and tangible
  • Delegate a resource to send regular goal updates via email, Slack, etc.
  • Celebrate little “wins” with a yummy treat in the office or team outing
  • Acknowledge individual accomplishments that propel your KPIs forward
  • Display your goals prominently in your office space

Give your team the tools they need to communicate.

You’ve probably heard the saying “communication is key.” This statement is true on any team, but especially in entrepreneurial or startup companies. If you want to foster a sense of company culture for your team, identify tools that could help your people transfer information quickly and easily. For most, the right solution is a combination of the following:

  • Instant messaging
  • Email communication
  • Team “meetups” to discuss workflow and goals
  • One-on-one check-ins with managers for feedback
  • Task boards (digital ones like Trello, or a real whiteboard)

In the end, you’ll need to seek and identify which combination of communication tools are right for your company culture. Don’t be afraid to experiment, and most importantly don’t be afraid to ask your employees what organizational and communication tools they prefer. By including them in the decision making process, you’ll be one step closer to cultivating a company culture that truly reflects its most important component: your people.  


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