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Guest blog by Naomi Tosic, co-founder of Sydney-based coworking spaces under The Office Space.

The workplace of the future will be more than just a place to do business. It will be 
an essential microcosm of society that is connected, convivial, commercially viable, culturally aware and collectively responsible.

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The inherent human need for connection, whether professional or social, fuels the dynamic we see as the future focus of the office environment. Members of coworking spaces are able to be a part of something greater than themselves, and coworking space founders are able to form a thriving, evolving business, a truly reciprocal relationship. Coworking spaces are connected to the fabric of 
the community outside of their own  four walls, all the while fostering a very vibrant internal community among their members.

The concept of community

Derived from the Latin communis, which means “things held in common,” community has been more broadly defined as organisms inhabiting a common environment and interacting with one another.

Traditionally, the notion of community has represented a geographically defined entity with common goals, values 
and implied cooperation. Digital networks, and their rapid expansion, have broken down the geographic barriers that once defined community, and connected people with a convenience and intimacy once only imagined. In this way, technology plays a crucial role in community building as it provides access to information and additional layers of engagement that can improve events and other face-to-face activities.

Whether physical or digital, community 
is characterized by a sense of belonging, camaraderie, mutual support, motivation, opportunity, and ultimately the sharing 
of ideals, ideas and resources. In a seminal study, McMillan and 
Chavis identified four elements of 
sense of community”: membership, influence, integration, and shared emotional connection. Sociologist Ray Oldenburg states in The Great Good Place that people need three places to derive meaning and attain connection: the home, the office, and the community hangout 
or gathering place. He promotes the “immense social value” they impart to a healthy existence.

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Great communities rarely happen without deliberate and continual planning, consultation and shaping. In The 
Different Drum: Community-Making and Peace, American psychiatrist Scott Peck indicates that conscious community building is a process of deliberate design based on the knowledge and application of certain rules. He asserts that “true community” is forged through the process of deep respect and true listening for the needs 
of the other people in this community and “reflects a deep yearning in every human soul for compassionate understanding from one’s fellows.”

The Office Space’s mandate is to support and connect all small businesses – not just those in proximity to our physical spaces. This broader ‘community vision’ relies on leveraging real world and online tools to allow our clients to socialize, exchange information, transact business and grow small businesses from startups to major global companies. Our future is an interconnected physical and virtual community that is socially inclusive and symbiotic rather than competitive.

The commerce of community

A sense of belonging and the concrete experience of social networks can 
bring significant benefits to both the participants and the managers of the community. The inherent value and cohesion of a network or community 
is referred to as Social Capital. Increasing evidence shows that social capital is critical for societies to prosper economically and for development to
 be sustainable. According to The World Bank, “Social networks can increase productivity by reducing the costs of doing business. Social capital facilitates coordination and cooperation.”

Workplace communities serve an important purpose in allowing like-minded entrepreneurs to connect and share experiences, advice and tools to succeed in business. They can access 
a wealth of information and resources, get support and inspiration, leverage the group for marketing their own products and services, and build meaningful relationships and networks.

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Forbes released an article featuring 25 of the top marketing thought leaders who iterated the importance of community through their trends and predictions for the upcoming year:

  • Vala Afshar, co-author of The Pursuit 
of Social Business Excellence acknowledges that businesses will need to find ways to engage with their end users in more meaningful ways:

    “… companies [will] leverage communities as a forum for customers to share their voice and also get answers to their most pressing questions…”

  • Scott Gerber, founder of Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) advocates the rising importance of meaningful niche communities:

    “Community will become ever more important… Niche communities created around common interests will thrive so long as they have strong online/offline hybrid models that drive engagement.”

  • Jeremiah Owyang, Chief Catalyst of Crowd Companies, describes a paradigm shift from audience to activator, consumer to creator, all facilitated by social media and collaborative community platforms.

    “The rise of collaborative economy [empowers people to] get what they need from each other, rather than buy anew. Corporations that want to be part of this new economy must embrace the same strategies and allow the crowd to become part of their company functions.”

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Coworking community: The Office Space model

The Office Space develops and delivers real world and online programming 
to connect, inform and inspire.
  We carefully curate our engagement events and activities to connect individuals and small businesses with opportunities in a big and exciting world. The result is a truly engaging place for 
a fast evolving and interconnected workforce.

Investing in the creating of strong networks also makes financial sense. Beyond The Office Space’s altruistic aims is a very clear and successful business strategy to position and market our business as 
an aspirational place, a community that people want to join. We are therefore able to monetize the social capital that our spaces represent and to increase desire and demand for our product, sales, media coverage, local buy in and “reputational” capital.

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Strong networks help to build strong businesses. Brands and businesses are creating ecosystems of collaborators that share their values, emerging stronger.  Undoubtedly, the greatest resource of any coworking space is the network of businesses that take up residence therein – and the greatest aim of any coworking provider must be to enhance the critical professional and social connections between these businesses.  Therein lies the magic – it’s the connections within the space, not with the space, that create the most dynamic and desirable of communities.

About Naomi Tosic

The Office Space is a
 boutique serviced office concept in Sydney’s Surry Hills by husband and wife duo Boris and Naomi Tosic. An award-winning builder, Boris creates shared spaces of exceptional quality and undeniable beauty.  Under Naomi’s strategic direction, properties evolve beyond beautiful working environments to become important places of innovation and insight.  She continues to service and engage workplaces and workforces through the brand and new commercial partnerships.