The Key Difference Between Coworking and Community Coworking Models

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Remote work, alongside its benefits, has brought a host of new problems into the workplace. Above and beyond all else, loneliness is becoming an epidemic within America. A majority of U.S adults are considered lonely today. This is due in no small part to the changing culture of the workplace within America. Not only are people feeling less loyal and connected to their place of employment, but turnover rates are remarkably high.

In the past, it was undeniable that people held a lot more pride and confidence in their place of employment. Of course, this isn’t to say that workers today are unjustified in their feelings. Wages are low, benefits are disappearing, and job safety has dropped in several industries. On top of this all, people are generally less satisfied giving all their time to their work. Work-life balance has become a hot term and for good reason, people want to live good lives outside of work.

All of these forces together have made work something to dread for many Americans. Remote work, popularized during the pandemic, offered a way to soothe some of these concerns. When working remotely there’s no commute, work-life balance is easier to maintain, and there’s less overhead management. Yet remote work also has the negative effect of propagating loneliness within the workplace.

Today the average worker has little to no work friends outside of their immediate coworkers. The culture and community aspect of the workplace has plummeted. Of course many businesses have taken notice of this and attempted solutions. The “work family” and team building trend within businesses has been strong over the past few decades. However this is something which isn’t looked on fondly today. The last thing workers want at the end of a long day is to be forced to interact with more people at work.

This issue is made even worse within the coworking model of offices. Coworking office spaces are common work spaces shared by several businesses. These are a practical option for any business trying to save on costs and space. However under this model the community aspect of the workplace is fractured even further.

In practice this leads to a tradeoff businesses have to make, save on costs, or save on culture. The coworking office model is incredibly practical, but it’s going to create a culture where very few employees actually resonate with the business itself. Fortunately, the money saved on costs can go towards benefits and wages, the things that really keep employees around. However, the community coworking model is an evolution of the coworking model that aims to fix this tradeoff.

The community coworking model, specifically the Tavern community coworking model, is quite simple. The coworking aspect of the system stays the same, offices sharing space with one another to save on costs. Where the difference arises is in what happens outside of the workplace. The Tavern model works by leveraging social spaces, places like hotels and restaurants, to host social events outside of work. These events are semi-professional, but still explicitly social, think things like communal lunches and happy hours.

What this does is combine the practical cost saving side of coworking with explicit community building events. At first glance, this seems like another forced attempt at building a work community where it isn’t wanted. Yet the important difference is that these events aren’t company focused. They’re not a celebration of company success, they’re not meant to team-build, they’re an excuse for employees to be social. 

In practice this difference is huge. These are events which aren’t mandatory but can work to more genuinely build connections between employees. People tend to work with link-minded people, work with people who have similar interests. The problem is that most workplaces today are so isolated. It’s nice to talk to immediate coworkers, but anyone outside of that is just too inconvenient to consistently communicate with. 

The Tavern model admits that this is true and aims to build an external solution to the problem. It is too hard to connect with people at work, so let’s give people an excuse to do it outside of the workplace. This does take some overhead from the business, but the cost can even be accounted for with a subscription model. A subscription model requires a little bit from each employee, say $30 a month, but it works as an investment. Once committed employees can be given more freedom on which events are hosted and where. 

Workers, ultimately, want autonomy in who they’re seeing and when they’re seeing them. It’s nice to have organized events to build a community, but it can’t be micromanaged. The Tavern model works because it gives some control and freedom to employees. It’s not extra hours of work, it’s not required, it’s just an opportunity. Not everyone is going to take advantage, but it can make a real difference. This is the difference between simple coworking offices and community coworking offices. A difference of opportunity.

About the author


Brian Wallace

Brian Wallace is the Founder and President of NowSourcing, an industry leading infographic design agency based in Louisville, KY and Cincinnati, OH which works with companies that range from startups to Fortune 500s. Brian also runs #LinkedInLocal events nationwide, and hosts the Next Action Podcast.  Brian has been named a Google Small Business Advisor for 2016-present and joined the SXSW Advisory Board in 2019.