All posts in Space

Designing Culture? Corporate Coworking, Part II

Follow me

Drew Jones

Head of Consulting at Conjunctured
Drew Jones, Ph.D is an organizational consultant, educator, and writer. He is a Lecturer of Management, Organizational Behavior, and Corporate Social Responsibility in the McCoy College of Business Administration at Texas State University, in San Marcos, TX. He has consulted with firms in the software, food and beverage, construction, advertising, sports management, coworking, and for profit education industries. He has published two books (The Innovation Acid Test: Growth Through Design and Differentiation, Triarchy Press 2008), including the first book about the coworking movement (I’m Outta: How coworking is making the office obsolete, with Todd Sundsted and Tony Bacigalupo, NotanMBA Press 2009), and has a third book (The Fifth Age of Work: Redesigning Work for a MobileSocial World, Night Owls Press), coming out Fall 2013. He has been involved in coworking since 2007, as a coworking space owner, partner, academic researcher, and consultant. He is a partner at Conjunctured Coworking.
Follow me

Latest posts by Drew Jones (see all)

Within the past week we have begun sharing our vision for how we want to extend the coworking experience ‘beyond coworking.’  What we are calling corporate coworking is elsewhere referred to as Activity Based Work (ABW), but it is really more than that.  At the heart of this is culture.  Our growing passion is to transform, and evolve, the cultures of as many organizations as we possibly can.  How do we propose to do this?

Transcending the Standard Corporate Culture Model

There is no shortage of consultancies out there that claim to understand and measure corporate culture.  Several of them, such as Denison Consulting, Chandler Macleod, Human Synergistics, and Walking the Talk, have developed highly “scientific” formulas for measuring a company’s culture.  The results of their surveys inform companies that their culture is ‘people oriented,’ or ‘customer focused,’ or ‘aggressive,’ or some other combination of words used to describe what is going on in that company.  Visually, the results of these surveys are most often color-coded, so that a company is more or less red, blue, or possibly even green.

denison Designing Culture? Corporate Coworking, Part II

But what really, at the end of the day, do these sorts of assessments tell us, or more importantly, what do they actually do for an organization?  After the results of a survey are presented, the client company is then faced with the challenge of changing values, behaviors, and a whole host of other rather personal things.  Implicit in this approach is an accusatory tone that says to many people within the firm that they have the wrong values and beliefs, and that in order for the organization to change in a desired way those people need to change (who they are).

This is rubbish.  What starts out as a bunch of words ends up with just a bunch of other words.  All firms aspire to be innovative, fair, customer oriented, grounded in integrity, focused on all stakeholders, etc.  What company doesn’t want these things?  What is presented by the A-List culture consultancies is merely candy floss masquerading as science.  Managers know that they need to attend to culture, yet they are so wedded to and blinded by the magic of science that they lie down and eat the candy floss.

Coworking as Change-Management Methodology

As the various experiments in ABW are showing, a company doesn’t need words about values, beliefs, and feelings in order to embark on meaningful cultural change.  Rather, what is needed are commitments.  The physical design, and the socio-physical-psychological interaction of people in well-designed spaces, creates patterns of community interaction on its own.  Of course it’s not all in the space alone.  It also includes giving employees choice, flexibility, and autonomy in how they do their work.  Companies can say that they aspire to be all sorts of things, but what high-performing knowledge workers really want is not that mysterious.  They want:

1. Trustworthy leaders

2. A business strategy that has a purpose beyond $

3. Involvement in meaningful work

4. Colleagues that don’t suck

5.  Maximum flexibility in how they organize their lives

6. The opportunity to innovate and grow professionally and personally

These things only become accessible and real to a group of employees if a company commits to them.  This entails designing spaces and policies that flow in accordance to the organic flows of human nature.

A culture change process that starts with the materiality of design has the potential to actually build culture, through design, without using an excess of words and colors.  The challenge, it seems, lies, first, in building the spaces and policies that align with human nature, then second, just getting out of the way.

Howdy Corporate Coworking- Part I

Follow me

Drew Jones

Head of Consulting at Conjunctured
Drew Jones, Ph.D is an organizational consultant, educator, and writer. He is a Lecturer of Management, Organizational Behavior, and Corporate Social Responsibility in the McCoy College of Business Administration at Texas State University, in San Marcos, TX. He has consulted with firms in the software, food and beverage, construction, advertising, sports management, coworking, and for profit education industries. He has published two books (The Innovation Acid Test: Growth Through Design and Differentiation, Triarchy Press 2008), including the first book about the coworking movement (I’m Outta: How coworking is making the office obsolete, with Todd Sundsted and Tony Bacigalupo, NotanMBA Press 2009), and has a third book (The Fifth Age of Work: Redesigning Work for a MobileSocial World, Night Owls Press), coming out Fall 2013. He has been involved in coworking since 2007, as a coworking space owner, partner, academic researcher, and consultant. He is a partner at Conjunctured Coworking.
Follow me

Latest posts by Drew Jones (see all)

A Bit About the Journey to Corporate Coworking

This is the first in a five part series on corporate coworking here at Conjunctured,  We have been in the kitchen now for quite some time, and are starting to take some goodies out of the oven.

Over the past couple of years we have been exploring various ways to grow our business.  On several occasions we came frighteningly close to signing leases on BIG and very costly spaces.  It makes sense, it seems, that if a coworking space aims to grow it would want to open a second or perhaps bigger location.  For quite some time we were driven to have multiple spaces here in Austin.  Not so much any more.

Thing is, there are such awesome coworking spaces (Vuka, Link, Posh, Plug and Play, Soma Vida, Capital Factory, Center 61, Golab, Tech Ranch, to name just a few) already spread throughout Austin, that that need is already being met.  Overall, we have one of the most balanced and vibrant coworking ecosystems in the world.  Just another of many reasons to love Austin!

As we explored various options and directions, it became clear that the coworking world, both here and around the world, is healthy and thriving.  However, there are other parts of the world, particularly many of the world’s large companies, that are in desperate need of cultural renewal.  Recent research by Right Management Consultants shows that 86% of corporate employees surveyed indicated that they are looking to move jobs in the coming year.  This is horrible (and costly news) for human resource managers across the corporate landscape.

Meanwhile, other firms, such as Macquarie Bank in Sydney, are embracing Activity Based Work, a workforce/workspace management solution that is eerily similar to traditional coworking. In ABW workplaces, all employees (including the CEO and other officers) forgo offices and are instead armed with a laptop and a locker.  People come and go and work in one of 8 Neighborhoods or Cafes, and move around from space to space on a daily basis.

one shelly street Howdy Corporate Coworking  Part I

What Macquarie discovered was that the design of the space actually became a lever, or mechanism, for initiating significant change in the company.  Participants cite the accessibility of the CEO (who works out in the open space with everyone else), and the elimination of meetings (because everyone is accessible all the time anyway) as drivers of what they refer to as the democratization of their workplace.  What starts as a design project becomes a cultural change project.

Coworking spaces are not encumbered by all of the toxic politics that define so many companies.  Rather, we all work in spaces where we choose to go.  If companies could possibly tap into the energy and vitality that thrive each day in coworking spaces around the world, there is no question that this would make the world a better place.  The values that the coworking community stands for ( autonomy, community, transparency, accessibility, fairness, collaboration, innovation, authenticity), as has been pioneered and exemplified over many years now by New Work City, Indy Hall, Office Nomads, Citizen Space, etc., are in short supply in much of the (corporate) world.  Our vision for launching corporate coworking (our version of Activity Based Work) stems from this recognition- working in a large firm does not have to suck!

Hopefully this is just the beginning of a long journey that has many passengers.

Progress

Howdy coworking fans,

It’s been two months since our grand opening party and about six months since we began bringing together the necessary pieces to create a central space for the community to come together. We love that we can provide a place for people to meet, work alone together or work together on projects founded within the space.

So far, we’re up to 20 members and we’ve had a blast getting to know these guys and gals the past couple of months. We’ve got developers, designers, artists, writers, real estate folks, consultants and more; meet these incredible people here: http://conjunctured.com/members/

From our early planning meetings at Jelly, our goal for the the space was to make it as accessible as possible to as many people as possible. Since our opening, we’ve learned that our initial estimates on capacity and usage were too conservative. It turns out we can support a larger community than we originally anticipated.

We’re announcing today that we are removing our tiered pricing and replacing it with one, 24/7 membership at $250 a month. That means no more keeping track of credits or wondering if coworking for one hour will cost you a full day. Flattening our pricing puts us one step closer to making Conjunctured a place where everyone can come and work.

By giving members unlimited access, we can make our resources and real estate go further than we projected. However, since the house is only so big, new memberships come on a first come first serve basis. Current members have first dibs at the new rate (if you’re already a Conjunctured member at the $325 or $425 level, we’ll be crediting your account based on the new setup; if you’re a Conjunctured member at $175 level, you’ll be credited with one full month of full-time 24/7 access). Daily rates will be given an overhaul soon, but currently remain unchanged.

We’re really excited to be at this point of growth so early since we projected that max capacity would come later on down the line. We have only but the Austin community to thank for this–we could not have done anything without your support, words of advice and encouragement and we’re super grateful. Thank you.

If you have questions, give us a shout via email or Twitter. For more info or to sign up, visit our updated rates page here: http://conjunctured.com/rates/

Again, many thanks for all your support. We love y’all
-Cesar, David, Dusty & John

PS: Last Friday, Don Teague, an NBC Nightly News correspondent, was around town with us filming a segment on coworking and the Austin scene. Make sure to watch the blog or Twitter (@conjunctured) to see the video when it’s released.

7 geeky things I love about coworking

David Walker

Co-Founder at Conjunctured
David believes in mindful openness, heart trust, empowered expression, friendship leadership, and community camaraderie.

He is the co-founder of Conjunctured, Austin’s original coworking community. Conjunctured supports the business+heart+cultureeco-system and holds space for a more connected and harmonious co-existence.

 7 geeky things I love about coworkingOne of the coolest things about coworking to me personally is seeing how others manage their workflow and taking the things I learn and integrating them into my own methods. Call me crazy geeky, but here some of little things that I love that I’ve experienced at Conjunctured so far:

  1. Taking a glance at how other coworkers have setup their labels differently in Gmail or organized their bookmarks and comparing it to my own methods.
  2. John Metcalf excitedly asking me what Firefox addon I have that shows a site’s Google PageRank + Alexa rating and me excitedly sharing it with him.
  3. Watching Cesar Torres design a client’s business cards in Adobe Illustrator and me watching his fingers go crazy with keyboard shortcuts that I never use.
  4. Seeing that Dusty Reagan, as tech-savvy as he is, still keeps his to-do list in his handy little Moleskine. And also, that I got to excitedly share with my him how I manage my own to-do lists with Todoist.
  5. Seeing live demos of useful web apps (and iPhone Apps too for that matter) that I had never seen in action. In this case, Microsoft Office Live, thanks to Robert Starek. Most of these demos don’t result in me installing the programs, but it’s just a lot more efficient to get a demo by an avid & passionate user, rather than seeing a tutorial online.
  6. Watching how Cullen Wilson handles client proposals so quickly and easily—a task that I normally dread and find time consuming. Maybe some of that will rub off on me!
  7. Realizing that productive work really can happen while lying down on a couch for hours at a time. (Scott Bellware prefers the ‘lounge room’ to the tables and chairs of the ‘coworking room’ any day of the week.)

Coworking is a constant reminder to me that being consistently exposed to difference is a powerful thing. We all have our unique way of doing things, but if we learn from others as well as share with others our methods we all become more successful in our own rights. It’s simply impossible to have the time to discover everything on our own, so it seems coworking provides an innovative means to in-person crowdsourcing.

-David

Conjunctured gets an east side history lesson.

20080713 bkepwy26whwibt6bb91mr2byuc Conjunctured gets an east side history lesson.

When we were featured in Omar Gallaga‘s Statesman article last Sunday on coworking along with LaunchPad Coworking and Caroline Collective, we had no idea of the interest we would garner from the Life & Arts feature.Notes of encouragement and requests for more information on coworking came from all over the Austin community.Many thanks to all those who have written in or talked to us in person—it’s great to see that Austin is more than ready for coworking.

One special note dropped in our email the Monday following the article from a family who was convinced they knew the house shown in the paper.They claimed it was the house their Aunt Alice lived in decades ago.Even though the article never explicitly stated our address, the family easily called out our address as 1309 E. 7th St.We quickly invited the Cisneros over and by Thursday had Aunt Alice walking through the halls and rooms of the Conjunctured house, taking us back to Austin more than 50 years ago.

We learned lots of history about the house, including the stories when the family first purchased an air conditioner to wine-making and fermenting under the house (we’ve yet to explore down there, but if we’re lucky we’ll come across some leftover vintage homemade wine).

It’s interesting to note that when Alice was living in the house as a teenager, it actually was a two-family house, complete with two kitchens.We’re glad we gained a first-hand account of the history of the house and that we get to continue the tradition of commingling people within the four walls of the space.Even though Austin is a young city, it’s growing exponentially day by day and we’re thrilled to be a part of the growth and that we can share in part of the history of the E. 7th St. house.

InnovationCamp Official After Party at Conjunctured

20080627 bnefhxmrt8ggsyyg631qaw9q6u InnovationCamp Official After Party at Conjunctured

Conjunctured is a sponsor of InnovationCamp today, right here in our own backyard.What you may not have known, though, is that we’re also the official after party location of iCamp!

If you’re planning on becoming a member of Austin’s first coworking space, this would be a great time to walk around and check us out if you didn’t attend the tweetup on Monday.We’ll be answering questions about memberships that night and will be ready to sign you up if you want in on the beta run.Make sure to stop by the space at 1309 E. 7th St. [map] if you’re interested, right after iCamp at 7:30PM.The Statesman (thanks to @omarg‘s upcoming coworking article) and the A-list (shoutout to @archana) will be around taking pictures of the good times we’ll be having.

If you remember in the video, we have a wet bar in the space.While we may not have wi-fi until mid-week next week, we will definitely make sure this part of the space is up and running for y’all. icon smile InnovationCamp Official After Party at Conjunctured

The “super secret party” from last night…

At 3PM on June 23, 2008 we got approval from the owner of a property in east Austin we’ve been in negotiations over for a couple of weeks.

At 5PM on June 23, 2008 we sent a message to a few people over the messaging network Twitter about having a sneak preview and some champagne at the space.

At 9PM on June 23, 2008 we had people from all over coming in to check it out.

Put anything out on Twitter and you know it will get spread around like a cold at a daycare—the great thing about Austin’s super-supportive community.Mondo thanks to everyone who came out last night!More videos will be coming soon as they’re edited, encoded and uploaded.

Dusty put some pictures on Flickr as well.If you have content from last night, send it my way or drop a link in the comments!I had a blast last night, I hope everyone did too.

EDIT: Colin has also put some into the Conjunctured Flickr group.

–C

Not scouring the city for a space anymore…

Many of you may have noticed the inactivity in David, Dusty, John and my Twitter feeds lately.At times, this can mean really bad or really good things.As of today, we’ve officially stopped our search for a coworking space in Austin.

As I’m writing this right now, I have the keys in my hand to Austin’s first coworking space.Wait, wha?The wait is officially over!The last space I wrote about before has been found, secured and signed for.Sorry for the build up—I couldn’t just pass up on the surprise!Find us at 1309 E. 7th St. in beauuuutiful east Austin.

We could not have done this alone and I want to thank everyone for their support along the way, including (but definitely not limited to) Drew Jones, Julie Gomoll, Todd Sundsted, Jim Hillhouse, family, close friends, the coworking community at large, anyone who we pitched the idea and especially the Austin tech community.Without your encouragement and belief in our idea, this would not be possible at all.We are forever grateful and appreciative of EVERY single way you’ve helped us along this journey.THANK YOU!

We’re so excited about the space and can’t wait to get everyone in there.Add us on Twitter or add the blog RSS to your Google Reader. As soon as we can get people inside, we’ll let you know.See you at the space!Who’s ready to party???

–C

Scouring the city for a space, part 2.

20080527 dnjxym3e6a4cef1s36j6rtrq4p Scouring the city for a space, part 2. In case we haven’t talked to you in person recently (at Austin Startup Drinks perhaps?), it turns out we lost the space at 501 Studios within 24 hours.We were really excited about the space and losing it was a huge learning experience.Ultimately, though, it just fired us up to keep on truckin’ and find the perfect spot.(As an aside, it turns out the 501 space used to house the local tech company Nossa TV; it probably still smelled like “startup” in there!)

At the advice of Julie Gomoll of LaunchPad Coworking (which will be opening up soon in Austin as well), we solicited the advice of a tenant representative.She even gave us the name of the one she used to find the spot for the forthcoming LaunchPad.Julie’s been nothing but supportive since we came together at SXSW and I think it’s safe to say we’re both cheering each other on to get coworking to Austin as fast as possible.It’s great to think that Austin will go from zero to two coworking spaces over the summer.

In case you were unaware, just like we were, a tenant rep serves as the middleman and negotiator between the landlord and the client (in this case, us) and to date, the contact Julie provided has been nothing short of amazing.He really gets the concept of coworking and totally embraces it (he’s even shown up to Jelly!).Since he knows exactly the kind of spot we’re looking for, we don’t really have to wade through too many spaces that don’t fit what we’re trying to do.He’s shown us a few spaces and just last week, we put in an offer for a pretty wicked space (seen above).We turned down taking over this artist’s studio space—for the size, not for fear that it was haunted, for the record.

Currently, we’re waiting to hear back from the owner in a few days.This one has some great potential and we love the feel that a stand-alone house would provide.While we can see the light at the end of the tunnel, it’s definitely not anywhere near the end of the race.

To view the past spaces we’ve seen (at least the ones we’ve documented), make sure to check out Dusty’s Flickr photosets.Beyond the coworking space shots, he’s also got some pretty sweet vintage family photo scans and pictures of his dog in there too.

Make sure you’re following us on Twitter or you have the RSS feed in your reader of choice because as soon as we sign that lease, it will for sure go on there!

–C

Scouring the city for a space.

20080506 q2hfr3p4ptfwex2ujeeethejxm Scouring the city for a space.

It’s about time for an update.

The past few weeks have been spent looking at potential coworking spaces in Austin.Late last week we came across a spot in the 501 Studios complex, most notably the home of Progress Coffee and tons of other cool companies just east of downtown Austin.We were excited about being a part of such a cool community, both in 501 and in east Austin (the city’s fastest growing part of town).Here are some shots of the space we were tweeting about here, there and everywhere Tuesday afternoon.

After soliciting feedback from potential coworkers via Twitter DMs,emailing people who have filled out our membership questionnaire and making some select phone calls to loved ones and advisors, we decided to bite the bullet, throw down a deposit and sign a one-year lease.We were flooded with responses and electronic notes of encouragement (many thanks if you sent something our way; your messages were the main reason behind us moving forward with the space).

Not all huge endeavors come easy though, as we’ve come to learn these past few months.In a strange turn of events, even though the deposit for the space is in, it looks like we’ll have to wait 48 hours to find out if we can sign the lease.It’s a situation that’s out of our control at this point, but we’re not letting us stop the momentum we gained today.We’re going to continue to look for spaces that align with our ultimate vision and we’ll keep pushing until we can provide a space that’s going to help Austin’s coworking community kick ass.

Initially, the situation we found ourselves in was frustrating but is one that has taught us a few lessons.One reason is why you’re reading this right now—we need to be chronicling our escapades more and more so you can know what we’re up to and for the benefit of the coworking community.We’ve benefitted so much from the transparency of others doing the same thing.We need to be contributing too.

A second thing is something Dusty mentioned to me over lunch at Progress: the awesomeness of the Austin tech/entrepreneur community.Today we realized the connectedness of people in this town and the desire for wanting cool stuff to happen in their town.Y’all want to see this happen as much as we do and I can’t begin to tell you how inspiring and motivating that is.While my celebratory tweet might have been a bit premature, even coworkers from around the nation sent their congratulations within seconds, including reps from New Work City, Independents Hall and even a friend right here in Austin opening Launchpad Coworking on 8th & Brazos.

We are part of some great communities and we can’t wait for the vision of our community to come to fruition.

Sometimes I’m overwhelmed by the connectedness that all of my gadgets and social networks provide, but today this helped me and the guys move one step closer to realizing a dream we are super passionate about.Again, thanks for the encouragement; we really couldn’t have done it without you.Look for more updates from now on.If you have questions, you know where to get to us.Hell, we’d even love to meet you for coffee sometime.We hear Progress makes one mean turkey sandwich.See you on the east side!

–C