The third space: coworking carries on from communal organizations

The Elks Club. The Freemasons. The Moose Lodge. The Shriners.

You probably had some of these in your hometown. But what are they?

Fraternal order organizations have a storied history spanning centuries. They were first established in the Middle Ages, when tradesmen and artisans created guilds as a means to support each other and protect their trade interests. These groups formed bonds based on shared professions, social beliefs, or even religious affiliations, providing a sense of community, camaraderie, and brotherhood that transcended the individual. 

freemasons are fraternal organizations that lay the ground work for coworking spaces

As society evolved, so did these organizations. In the 18th and 19th centuries, fraternal orders such as the Freemasons, Odd Fellows, and Knights of Columbus emerged. These societies offered a platform for individuals to engage with others sharing similar interests or ideals, as well as providing mutual support, from educational opportunities to insurance in times of need. They also played a significant role in community service, contributing to societal well-being. (Yes, I’m glossing over the gendered and racial exclusivity — I’m just focusing on the role they played.)

The need for such organizations hasn't waned with time; it has simply morphed. The rise of the digital age and globalization has shifted the way we connect and relate to each other. In this era of constant connectivity yet paradoxical isolation, the spirit of fraternity has found a new home: third spaces like coworking spaces. 

Coworking spaces are the modern answer to the need for community and camaraderie that fraternal orders once fulfilled. They aren't just about shared office space; they're about shared experiences, mutual growth, and a sense of belonging. These spaces offer a diverse mix of individuals and businesses, each with unique skills, perspectives, and experiences, fostering a fertile ground for collaboration and innovation.

coworking spaces deliver on the human need for connection

So, why are we drawn to these spaces? It's simple: humans are hardwired for connection. We crave communities that bring out the best in us, that challenge us, that make us feel seen and valued. In coworking spaces, you'll find freelancers, entrepreneurs, remote employees, all seeking more than just a desk and Wi-Fi. We seek relationships, opportunities, and a sense of belonging

It's the power of connection, the strength of diverse minds coming together, that propels us forward. And as we continue to navigate the ever-evolving world, it's crucial to remember this: our need for community isn't a sign of weakness; it's a testament to our strength. Because when we rise together, we create possibilities that are greater than the sum of our individual efforts. 

So whether it's the guilds of yesteryears or the coworking spaces of today, we're all just looking for our tribe, a place to belong, and a way to make a difference. That's the power of community, and that's why, no matter how the world changes, we'll always find new ways to come together.

But what exactly is a third space?

Now, more than ever, we're all trying to find our footing in the shifting sands of our personal and professional lives. 

As we fully understand, the third space is a concept that's been around for a while, but it's taken on new importance in our increasingly remote and flexible work world. 

A third space is essentially a neutral zone, a place that's neither home nor office, where people can work, socialize, innovate, and self-actualize. 

We're all looking for ways to get the most out of our day, to tick off the boxes on our to-do lists, and to feel a sense of accomplishment. But here's the thing: fulfillment doesn't come from doing—it comes from becoming. It comes from growth, from learning, from stretching ourselves beyond our comfort zones. And third spaces, like coworking spaces, are the perfect breeding grounds for this kind of self-evolution. 

Think about it. At home, you're comfortable, but maybe too comfortable. It's your safe space, where you relax, unwind, and binge-watch the latest Netflix series. 

The office, on the other hand, is where you wear your professional hat, where you're often 'on' all the time. 

But what about a space where you can be both comfortable and professional, where you can grow without the pressure of work or the distractions of home? That's where third spaces come in.

Laura Shook Guzman even talked about churches and their diminishing role in helping us find community. They are physical spaces that facilitate connection, collaboration, and creativity, without the formal constraints of an office or the personal distractions of home. And the beauty of these spaces is that they allow for the kind of serendipitous interactions that fuel innovation and progress.

Why are these interactions so important? Well, it's because innovation doesn't happen in a vacuum. It's sparked by conversation, by the exchange of ideas, by being exposed to perspectives different from our own. When we isolate ourselves at home, or even in traditional offices, we risk shutting ourselves off from these catalytic encounters.

And let's talk about self-actualization for a minute. Remember Maslow's hierarchy of needs? (Yep, another reminder of this amazing conversation about mental health.) At the top of that pyramid is self-actualization—the desire to become the most that one can be. When we're stuck in the home-office dichotomy, it's easy to get caught up in the daily grind, to lose sight of this ultimate goal. But when we step into a third space, we create an opportunity to focus on our personal growth, to explore new ideas and passions, and to become the best versions of ourselves. 

coworking spaces create environments for self actualization

So, here's our challenge to you: help your community embrace the third space. Envision your coworking business as providing a location in your community that delivers a break from the norm, that fosters growth, creativity, and innovation. Welcome members to step out of their comfort zone within the confines of a community that fosters psychological safety, and you'll be amazed at the ideas, opportunities, and connections that take shape right in front of you.

Remember, folks, life is not just about work and home. It's about the spaces in between — the third spaces — where we grow, thrive, and ultimately, self-actualize. Embody this concept, lean into the discomfort of the unfamiliar, and watch as the work-life balance of your members transforms into a work-life harmony. 

How to embed ‘third space’ into the marketing of your coworking space

So, your coworking space already provides an essential service — bringing people together in a collaborative, productive environment. But you also offer something even more profound. You facilitate a third space — a magical location that blends comfort and professionalism, where people can self-actualize, and innovation thrives.

This concept is so powerful, and it should be at the heart of your branding and marketing strategies. Here's why and how.

Why you should leverage 'third space' in your branding

People are no longer satisfied with merely 'working' — they want to grow, learn, and fulfill their potential. As the providers of third spaces, you're in a unique position to support this journey towards self-actualization. But first, your potential clients need to understand the value of what you're offering.

how to market your coworking space as a third spacThis is where the 'third space' concept comes in. It goes beyond the idea of just a place to work — it implies a space for growth, connection, and innovation. By incorporating this language into your branding, you're communicating that your coworking space is more than just desks and Wi-Fi — it's a place to become the best version of oneself. 

How to integrate 'third space' into your marketing strategy

  1. Language and messaging 

Start by incorporating 'third space' language into your messaging. Use words and phrases like 'innovation hub,' 'personal growth space,' 'professional comfort zone,' or 'collaborative haven.' Make it clear that your space is designed for more than just work—it's designed for personal and professional evolution.

  1. Visual branding 

Your visual branding should reflect the ethos of a third space. Use images that show diverse groups collaborating, individuals engaging in creative pursuits, or people having casual, stimulating conversations. Show your space as a vibrant, dynamic place that fosters growth and innovation.

  1. Content marketing

Create blog posts, videos, and social media content that highlight the benefits of third spaces. Share success stories of individuals who have grown and innovated within your space. Offer tips on how to maximize productivity and personal growth in a third space environment. 

  1. Community building

Emphasize the community aspect of your coworking space. Host networking events, workshops, and seminars that encourage collaboration and learning. Show your members and potential members that your space is a community of like-minded individuals who support each other's growth.

  1. Value proposition 

Finally, ensure your value proposition clearly communicates the benefits of a third space. This is more than just a sales pitch — it's a commitment to your members that you're dedicated to their growth, creativity, and innovation.

Remember, as the providers of third spaces, you're not just offering a place to work. You're facilitating a journey towards self-actualization. By incorporating the 'third space' concept into your branding and marketing, you're positioning your coworking space as a key player in this transformative process. 

Keep that at the heart of everything you do, and your coworking business will thrive.

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