18 Dec 7 Secrets to a Great CoWorking Space: Secret 3
Secret 3. Creating the environment for a great co working super team.
Welcome to this week’s secret reveal in the 7 Secrets of a Great Co Working Space series. Secret 3 – Creating an environment for creating a co working super team. The people who run the engine of co working spaces are literally superhuman. Many do not know how much energy it takes to manage the demands of a community of up to 300 plus physical members, and the thousands comprising the extended community of a co working space which includes: outside organisations, partnerships, remote members, government bodies and other critical stakeholders. Not only do the front line team members, in particular, have to handle the day to day issues which arise offline, they are frequently the face of the co working space in social media, a train which never stops because co working spaces literally never sleep. The front line team members are particularly vulnerable to burn out if systems and structures are not in place to support them.
From a legal perspective the first critical issue with your people is defining their status and what they will be doing. Are they an employee, contractor workers or volunteer. All have different legal implications and obligations and every relationship should be documented with an agreement. Without going into depth, the key points to note here are:
- Employees: These can be full time, part time, or casual. You have a duty of care to ensure they have a safe workplace, obligations to pay tax and superannuation.
- Contractors: The key difference with a contractor vs employee is the degree of fleibility afforded to the person on a project. Terms such as choosing their own hours and completing work in their own time, with monthly invoicing lean toward contractor but these need to be clear so as not to fall into looking like an employment agreement, or the consequences can be severe. e.g. back taxes
- Volunteers: You need to be very careful with volunteers as, they could be construed as employees if what they are doing looks like employment. Always be clear about what is expected, and always thank them for giving up their time, by offering some benefits or rewards e.g. free use of the space.
- Clarity, Culture & Communication: Clearly defined job descriptions – what do you expect from your people, encouragement, incentives and clear communication lines are critical to co working communities. Your people no matter what their legal status is are on the front line and need your support at all times.
Many articles, management courses, webinars, online videos, countless books and articles have been written about company culture and why it is so important to the productivity and long term viability of a business. The most fundamental factor in all of it boils down to one key thing: trust. Trust is the most valuable commodity in a dynamic business such as co working. When people are their best selves and in alignment with each other, it works like a dream. But sometimes as we are human – it’s not always smooth sailing. We make mistakes, we break agreements even small ones, and this affects how we work together. Our ability to handle these situations is what defines not only the culture, but will affect the entire co working business, members included.
Therefore to reiterate our earlier article about the “informal rules” which occur when people work together. Remember behaviour and habits dictate culture. So it’s up to you if you are the leader to foster positive habits with procedures also in place for how to deal with the negative ones, such as regular training. We’ve mentioned before that documenting your “informal rules” in the form of a code of conduct or in your policies & procedures is also highly valuable.
Policy & Procedures
These should be robust, clearly drafted in friendly language and designed to keep employees engaged, informed and safe. You should also ensure training is conducted regularly. Here are examples of some of the policies you should have in place and which should ideally work alongside the legal agreement you have with each team member:
- Purpose-led Mission & Values Statement
- How we work together – the rules of engagement e.g. this can be written in human language examples include: walk the talk, if in doubt communicate, own the stuff ups etc..
- Health & wellbeing
- Workplace safety
- Dealing with Conflict
- Caring for Planet
- Caring for People – Dealing with discrimination, harassment & bullying
- Communicating with Members
- Coworking Complaints Procedures
- Communicating with Media
- Community service
- Leave Entitlements
- Redundancy, Resignation & Termination
- Using the Space Guidelines
As we mentioned in our previous post, you will likely need to spend some time refining your informal rules and this tone must also be reflected in your legal agreements, so make sure you consult with a legal adviser to get both right. They will evolve over time as you grow. For example, you may start with individuals initially who work well in a small team, and then find as you expand you need individuals with different skill sets. This is where a good company culture will ease the transition to a bigger team, where different dynamics are required.
That’s also where quality regular training comes in. This can be something you should be doing with your team frequently as constant learning is a great way to keep building good culture. If you keep your team happy, you keep your members happy, as they always like to see familiar faces.
By Legal Counsel Helen Allard. Clearpoint Ed. Anna Reeves.
If you’d like help drafting policies & procedures for your co working space, connect with firstname.lastname@example.org