by Steve Upham : Director of altspace Coworking Office, Altrincham

The coworking movement is incredibly successful at offering social opportunities to remote workers.  Many of us traded in jobs in the corporate world to work independently and miss the communal buzz of a larger office or company HQ.  By working at home or in a serviced office you miss out on the shared, sometimes random interactions during the day.  We’ve all enjoyed bonding over Netflix shows, family challenges and the weekend’s sport with coworkers and this is difficult to replicate online.  To overcome this challenge we are continually more tribal in social settings to enable meetings with kindred spirits.  Networking groups, clubs, forums and niche coworking spaces can help us thrive professionally and socially.

Large tech companies from the United States have been denigrated for adopting a ‘jock’ or ‘lad’ culture through their reliance on a male workforce.  As a consequence of their heritage US coworking memberships are also commonly biased towards male workers.  To offer an alternative work environment there are a growing number of female only coworking spaces popping up across America and the UK.  It’s amazing to see these spaces opening up and empower working women.  The Hivery in San Francisco is a great example offering inspiring decoration and a calm retreat for members.  There appears to be a shared aesthetic in the offices for beautiful design, with different themed rooms encouraging collaboration and creative thinking.

The Wing in New York functions as a female only members club and is so popular that there’s now a waiting list to join up.  The bright, clean meeting rooms are perfect for greeting clients and other workers.  Tailored events and considerate design help members mix and meet other like minded women in this large and sometimes impersonal city.  There are some common themes that are familiar in these spaces.  The key one for me is inclusivity and this is crucial in having a lively and balanced coworking community.

On this November day we are close to celebrating our first year as an independent coworking space in South Manchester.  I’m keen to encourage more people to use altspace and have some thoughts on how to achieve this amongst underrepresented groups.    Initially,  we welcome anyone irrespective of trade or role and this builds a more diverse community.  By appealing to only creatives, or digital businesses we wouldn’t be as relevant.

In addition we focus on hosting networking meetings that offer real value to people and therefore encourage female speakers.  Three out of the last four amazing speakers have been successful local business women from the events, legal and HR professions.  This strategy has seen improved engagement by visitors and also offered me the opportunity to canvas opinions on office design.  By listening to visitors and learning from the US spaces I’m confident that we can offer an amazing space for the local community in our new home.