Being inclusive and diverse is a topic that is being discussed in many sectors, especially in the coworking realm.
One of the most important parts of running a coworking space is that you need to be constantly aware of the community and its development. It’s not only about creating a space that is inclusive, diverse, equitable and accessible (IDEA), it is also key to consider what is best for your coworking space and where you are headed.
Diversity and inclusion are sometimes used synonymously, however, it is important that we understand the differences between the two.
Though diversity and inclusion are interconnected, the terms cannot be used interchangeably, as they mean different things. Diversity as a term refers to any aspects of an individual that can differentiate them from another person. Usually, we refer to ethnicity, race, age, sexual orientation, background, or beliefs. Inclusion, however, refers to an organisation’s efforts in accepting and welcoming people who have different cultures or social backgrounds from the local dominant culture.
But, what are some of the benefits of having a diverse and inclusive coworking space?
One of the key benefits of having a diverse and inclusive coworking space is that it is directly aligned to the positive reputation and image of the space. The reputation of an organisation is linked to perceptions. If you’re welcoming and embracing a diverse group of coworkers, your space will naturally give others the perception that the space is socially responsible and aware of the positive impact that diversity can bring to a community.
Hiring employees from diverse backgrounds will also reflect on the customer base. For instance if an employee is from another country, a coworker from the same country is likely to feel more comfortable conversing with them. The long term effect of this common-ground interaction will see coworkers returning to the coworking space as they have experienced it to be a safe and welcoming space for them.
Another benefit for coworking spaces which increase diversity and inclusion in their spaces is the increase in innovation that diversity brings. A diverse team has employees from different countries, religions, genders, ages, and with varied work experiences across different industries.
Building a team with people from different backgrounds and outlooks in life, allows each individual to provide a different and new perspective to solving problems, or creating unique ideas for products and services. A truly diverse team should feel like a safe and comfortable space for all. However, some team members may struggle to feel comfortable when they present an idea. It is essential to break down barriers and encourage all voices and perspectives to the table in a coworking space.
Broader customer base
The broader your customer base, the more exciting engagements and opportunities there will be for your community. That is why having a diverse and inclusive team is an essential aspect to broadening your customer base. Forming a diverse team provides more insight into the needs and wants of customers from similar backgrounds as the team. Simply this is, having a more diverse team which adds to the space appeal and attractiveness to new customers.
Diversity within a team is also beneficial to the employees’ general mental well-being. This is as a result of the space that has been created to prioritise employee safety and encourage open discussions. This sets a healthy foundation to build deeper trust within the team. Having a team that is able to communicate and trust each other, is in fact a team that will be more productive, innovative, and ultimately an asset to the company in times of crisis. Relationships are key to harmonious teams, and happy teams are ones that are most likely to increase profit for a company.
Extensive talent pool
Having diversity in a coworking space team, provides a broader talent pool. During the recruitment process, when you expand the pool of applicants, the coworking space will benefit from a wider range of qualified individuals. They will have different experiences, skills, and talents. Ideally you want to aim for a team that has many different perspectives and different ways to achieve goals, and this is what makes diversity a beautiful thing for any company.
As any coworker would agree, one of the major reasons for joining a community is in fact, to be part of a community. Strengthening the community should therefore involve promoting the creation of a more inclusive culture and community. The long term effect that inclusivity will have on the space is that it will encourage employees from different backgrounds. Deeper deeper connections will form and reduce potential stereotypes that people in the given space may have.
A great coworking space thrives on forming a community and connections amongst everyone who enters the space. Whether members are digital nomads, freelancers, or employees who work remotely, all are welcomed into the space. Extending this warm welcome to people from different backgrounds, allows trust and diversity to flourish within the coworking space.
Initially it might feel challenging to create a diverse and inclusive workspace, but with the right tools and resources one can rapidly become well-versed on the topic.
Educating yourself and finding ways to improve the lives of marginalised groups around the coworking space, is key on this journey. One way to make this easier, is to sign up for the European Coworking Assembly’s IDEA (inclusivity, diversity, equity and accessibility) handbook.
This handbook is a helpful four-part guide. It takes you through the process of creating an inclusive, diverse and equitable coworking space, that is accessible to all. Read what the IDEA handbook is all about and sign up for early access to the book once it launches.