What Can Christians Learn From the Coworking Movement?
In Why People Thrive in Coworking Spaces, published in Harvard Business Review, the authors note that those using coworking spaces report a higher level of thriving than general workers. They highlight a few likely factors. I would like to examine what we as believers can learn from their observations.
The authors note that coworkers see their work as meaningful. Because there is little competition, they don’t feel they have to “put on a work persona”. In addition, meaning often comes from working in a culture where it is the norm to help each other. Finally, meaning may be derived from the social meaning inherent in the Coworking Manifesto (which includes community, collaboration, learning and sustainability as goals). The authors add that coworkers also feel more control over their schedule, and emphasize the community point.
Honestly, when I read this clearly written article, it made me think of what a good church should be comprised of, much less a solid space for followers of Christ to work in. We should all see our work as meaningful, in one way or another. We may be achieving a grand societal goal, or we may simply be putting food on our family’s table- but both are meaningful. Thoughts for another time include the fact that God is the God of the second-shift, not only of white collar workers.
Further, we should be in competition in the sense that we strive together (the original meaning), and even that we spur each other on, but not in the sense that God is insufficient for all of our needs. If we have run the good race, if we have worked hard, and if we fail, that is ok (and have we truly failed if we have grown, and learned?). We will be ok, in the end.
Coworkers derive a sense of shared community from principles such as community, learning and sustainability. That seems like something that a good church should have in common - a variety of people, doing different things, under shared principles and part of a community. Community of course means helping each other out, possibly financially if appropriate, definitely emotionally.
In closing, I set out to write how a solid Christian work environment could learn from the coworking world, and found that the same principles seem to apply to church. Perhaps that should not surprise me, but it does highlight that we can all learn from a variety of spheres and geographies and apply those lessons to our own lives, to our own work, and to our communities and our churches.