Coworking is built on five key values: community, openness, sustainability, collaboration and accessibility. For our community to make sure we are guided by these values and informed by them in our decisions, we need to ensure that all of our members know exactly what these values entail and how to go about implementing them.
As a coworking space, your community is your first priority. How do you go about making it Inclusive, Diverse, Equitable, and Accessible (IDEA)?
What we see in our communities is that structural discrimination excludes people, and affects the opportunities they have. Who is excluded varies right across Europe – Black people, people with disabilities, people of colour, Muslims, Jews, immigrants, LGBTQ+ –depending on the majority view and the history of the part of Europe you look at. Coworking is working towards creating communities that are inclusive and allow people to bring their whole selves to work in the space..
Coworking builds toward communities that don’t discriminate and that include everyone who shows interest. This is part of the coworking values.
Being inclusive means accepting people for who they are. Being diverse means having not just diverse community members but also diverse staff members, events, and workshops. Being equitable means treating everyone with fairness and respect. Having an accessible space means really thinking about the needs of your community and ensuring that your physical space is not a hindrance to them.
We are creating a handbook to help you make mindful and intentional choices aligned with your values, to take practical steps to develop and foster Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Accessibility (IDEA) in your coworking space. This handbook is about the how.
It is meant for coworking space founders, owners, community managers, coworkers, digital nomads, freelancers and anyone else concerned or connected with coworking spaces.
Why the handbook
In 2018 the European Coworking Assembly did a series of small events across Europe about inclusions, diversity, and accessibility.
We came not to talk but to listen and what we heard was that many coworking communities struggle with the how: How to go about making sure the community reflects the values of the community, how to connect with folks outside of the dominant group represented, how to approach accessibility.
If you have been following the Coworking IDEA Project’s monthly challenges, you know that fostering an IDEA community can be quite rewarding and that it is good to have input and other perspectives as you start. After all, you don’t know what you don’t know. Just like everyone else.
That is why this handbook is being created. Think of it as a guide to help you through the process and a framework to create your own IDEA strategy that is fit for your community.
This is the structure of the handbook and the contents within:
This section is about the What and the Why: it introduces the topics and gives you the information you need to approach the issues with confidence.
When you understand the terms and the issues that are involved in this space, then it becomes easier to take the right steps towards implementing IDEA into your coworking space.
We discuss what each element in IDEA is and how you can identify this within your space. This section also includes a dictionary to help you understand some of the terminology used throughout the book.
Here the book focuses more on the How and teaches you about creating a baseline by auditing your space before implementing an IDEA strategy.
Auditing your space allows you to see clearly which areas or fields need special attention, which are in good shape and which could use another look. It shows you where your strong and weak points are and how to identify them. This section helps you see clearly how to prioritise and approach the process of creating your IDEA strategy.
This section teaches you all about execution and gives you the tools you will need to implement your new IDEA strategy. The handbook gives clear guidelines on how to implement your strategy and the activities needed to do so.
Working through these three sections will enable you to confidently create a plan to embrace Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Accessibility. Not only that, but it will help you bring your coworking community along with you and ensure that your space reflects your values and ideas and allows people to be their unapologetic, whole selves.
The goal of the handbook
The goal of the IDEA handbook is to help you build, nurture and sustain your diverse, inclusive and fully accessible community. It is to support you in working out the how of it for your space, community, and locale.
“We invite you to bring your entire selves to work every day.” This is an important quote in coworking that fosters IDEA.
Our goal with this handbook is to help you shift change and live your core values, by respecting others as they are and opening your space to be more inclusive and more accessible.
We have included case studies to concretely help you through the process of identifying where people are being left out. Our exercises are also there to help guide you through the process and identify what issues you might have overlooked and ensure that all the factors are considered.
The IDEA handbook has been a work in progress for several years. We have worked with and been guided by many people experienced in coworking as well as folks with lived experience to ensure that this book covers all bases.
The official release date is 1 September 2022, so add your name to the list to be the first to know when the book is available for purchase. Sign up here to be the first to know.