Coworking spaces as a nesting ground of innovation, ideas and entrepreneurship does not only impact their members. These spaces, with collaboration as one of their core values, do not only extend this to their coworking community but also to the local community.
The immediate vicinity of a coworking space also thrives and grows. However, an economic impact is only a part of the impact these workspaces bring to their local community.
In a recent podcast with Elena Giroli, Change and Communication Manager of Creative Works in Walthamstow, England, we get to talk about the socioeconomic impact coworking spaces can have on the local community.
Starting Creative Works
Creative Works is a coworking space for creative people in Walthamstow — as Elena describes the space. Elena gives us a glimpse behind the founding of Creative Works and what are they trying to achieve with the local community.
We agree that the storyline is quite interesting. It starts with the graduating students of Big Creative Education facing the same issue — the difficulty of accessing the creative industry. She elaborates by saying:
“When I say creative industry, I’m referring to digital marketing, advertising companies. I’m talking about music, production labels, band production companies, designer studios or affiliates. And the reason behind that is that most of the time when you are part of the creative industry, you are connected to the people inside already that refer you. And sometimes when you come from different backgrounds and different environments, you don’t necessarily have these kinds of connections inside the world.”
Considering that a lot of students are struggling to enter and thrive in these industries, Creative Works aim to give them the push they need. To achieve that, the coworking space becomes the bridge between the school and these creative industries. Add to that, Creative Works is a dedicated space for creative businesses and innovative businesses that offers full apprenticeships for the students and free desks to companies that support this vision.
The Creative Works Potential
Being part of the largest creative communities in London, Big Creative Education, the full potential of the coworking space was yet to be realized when the pandemic hit. Despite that, Creative Works, according to Elena, are partnering with the local authorities as they are a learning hub in the areas of the 17-regeneration zone.
Elena adds that they also started working with local NGOs and local groups to create more initiatives. Some of these initiatives include partnering with a small publishing magazine that was actually born during the lockdown and distributing internally. They are also helping their members through a grant, running business support for members of the coworking space and the local communities by providing consultancy, financial planning and life coaching as well.
What they learned from the pandemic was how to listen effectively to their members, strengthen their communication channels and build self-healing business support. And by self-healing, Elena means that members can gather and talk about what they’re doing and share all about their struggles and find ways together to get through their current obstacles.
This just proves that Creative Works is really a community driven space that had the opportunity to reflect on their mission and values.
Magic Ingredient and Conversations
“Conversations can be a starting point for something really great. I also had an opportunity to have conversations with people that are not freelancers. And that opened to me an entire new world.”
Elena answers this when asked about finding the magic ingredient for making an online community. She then adds that it is literally like taking the time to mentally listen to what people need to say. She states that Creative Works have a very strong value that reflects what this space is based on.
And with Covid, people are tired of working from home or can’t work from home or just want to have some sort of normalcy of having a routine space to go to, leave work then go home and do their personal things. Having honest conversations not just with your coworking community but with others that have never been in a coworking space is very interesting and mind opening.