GCUC Takeaway One is all about the coworking playbook.

TLDR: Don’t be afraid to write your own.

Hello, Garrett here. I own and operate a space in Charlotte, NC called Hygge Coworking.

I’ve been in NYC at the coworking conference GCUC(affectionately pronounced “juicy”). The final day is a wrap, I’m back in my Airbnb, and there’s a quick thought that I absolutely need to get out. This will likely be the first of a few thoughts —  but this one stuck with me as we wrapped the final Unconference portion. If you’re unfamiliar, Unconference is the more open, informal discussion portion of the conference. Space operators propose topics and everyone votes on them. Then breakouts and discussion ensues.

What I saw

Coworking spaces are scared to push the line and be themselves. They are looking for a playbook to follow instead of writing the playbook themselves. We’re such a young industry and any single space has the ability to set their own course. Coworking operators have the ability to own what coworking is in their city, and they should take that responsibility seriously.

Coworking has a huge awareness issue. There’s actually people that think we invented coworking in Charlotte, NC. True story! We get that question all the time. “This is your idea?!” Well, no — but the way we approach it is absolutely our idea.

For coworking operators, this means that there’s a damn good chance that the first interaction with a potential member is their first interaction with coworking. Own that. It’s a huge plus. How people become aware of our offering and then engage the brand is 100% up to us.

I got the sense that space operators are afraid to define what coworking is in their space. They want the playbook. What we do at Hygge might only work for us because we have carefully crafted the experience. It’s custom fit to how we believe coworking should be. It’s also built on a deep understanding of Charlotte and its culture. It might not work in another region. Take advantage of the knowledge you have of your city and make sure what you’re building fits.

You might be asking yourself…

What if a potential member doesn’t like what we’re doing? What if they don’t like our brand?

Well, that’s ok. Maybe you’re not the right fit for them – moreover, maybe they’re not a good fit for your community! I believe it’s better to have someone self-select my space based on the image we present, rather than try to please everyone, and have folks end up in our space who don’t get the culture we’re building at Hygge.  You have to be willing to turn some people away. It’s not a bad thing.

We built a space and a brand we are proud to be a part of. We are confident in the steps we’ve taken, the way we’ve positioned ourselves and how people perceive the work we are doing. Hygge is everything we want in a space. We are unabashedly conscious of the way we put Hygge into the world. It comes through in a big way and people appreciate. We don’t waiver. We’re consistent.

How do you approach your brand? Maybe you cater to artists, hyper professionals such as lawyers, or perhaps you’re focusing on creating a community around female entrepreneurs. It’s important to understand exactly who you are building a space for.

My recommendation is to worry a little less about how other spaces have built their brand and space build something for you(r) team/brand/company/vision. Define what coworking is at _____________. It’s up to you.

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