Great Expectations: A personal perspective on safety and security in the era of coworking

As a woman, I have certain expectations for what a safe workplace should be, and most may not differ greatly from those of my male coworkers.

I want to be confident that if I step away from my belongings, they will still be there when I get back. I should be able to have a confidential conversation in a private setting. When I’m focusing on my work, I would prefer not to be fending off unwanted pitches, of any kind. And I want to be very sure that the workplace enforces policies against unprofessional and inappropriate behavior, including un-welcomed advances.

But with a workforce that has been liberated from corporate cubicles and is increasingly choosing to work in coworking facilities, how can personal privacy and safety be ensured?

I learned a lot about the value of a safe and welcoming workplace in my first job, where I had a colleague who often felt it necessary to remark on my looks. While at first flattering, the overtures progressed quickly to more aggressive propositions which continued even after I expressed my discomfort. I was forced to channel my inner Greta Garbo uttering “I want to be alone,” before ultimately escalating to HR – who I knew would have my back.

Of course, I don’t really want to work alone. I want to be around others and feel part of a community, as do 84% of coworkers based on a recent survey. I value my privacy and security, and I should not be expected to lower my expectations because I choose to work in a coworking facility.

Vinay Kantak, VP of Platform Services for Serendipity Labs Coworking, who is responsible for both online and on-premise security, recently penned a blog, Don’t Play Games When It Comes to Your Safety and Security for this The Inspired Worklife series. In it he notes the questions you should be asking your future or current coworking facility to determine what safety and security practices are in place. Below, I’ve added a few of my own, now that my expectations have been raised by working at Serendipity Labs. Adding these to Vinay’s list might help you determine which coworking community is right for you:

  • Are the desks made in a way that, regardless of your choice of outfit, protects you from feeling exposed?
  • Are privacy features designed into offices and meeting rooms, or will you be in a glass fishbowl where you feel like you are on display?
  • Are there a variety of seating options, so you don’t need to struggle to hop onto a tall chair or feel like a child forced to sit cross-legged on a beanbag?
  • If the ambient music, daytime communal events, or general noise level become distracting, will anyone address your concerns and are they willing to make a change to accommodate you?
  • If you are feeling harassed – either by an aggressive coworker peddling their wares, or worse, sexually – are there rules and a process in place to step in and protect you?

From that first job until now, I’ve never shied away from opportunities to do something new, because I have been fortunate to work with experienced professionals whom I trusted to support me when I needed it. As business leaders, we have succeeded by often being willing to take similar leaps of faith. For coworkers, that leap is choosing a provider who is willing to ensure their safety and security. And isn’t it nice to know someone has your back, just in case you need it?

Paula Gomprecht is the Vice President of Marketing with Serendipity Labs.

What does hospitality mean in coworking?

“Hospitality” — what does that word mean to you when you’re looking for somewhere to work or to establish your place of business?

The word conjures up the feeling you get at your favorite upscale hotel, where you can expect a friendly greeting, an offer to take your bags, a clean lobby, and a helpful staff.

Let’s translate that to business, your business. If you’re an entrepreneur, you need access to professional workplaces from Day One, when you are planning to sway potential investors or build business-to-business relationships. If you’re a corporate executive, your mobile employees need workplaces away from their homes that are safe and secure. And if you’re a freelancer or on-demand contractor, you need a professional space to work with partners and meet clients.

Hospitality needs to be at the core of what these workplaces must offer. It starts with staff that cares and goes out of its way to make everything seamless; a staff that can get you up and running – fast – and take your mind off things like wondering if your bag is safe if you get up. A staff that welcomes your client properly and pays attention to every detail – from greeting you by name to providing little touches such as infused water or fresh flowers.

Lastly, consumers count on hotel chains to have consistency wherever they travel so that they can be confident with their choice. Businesses also need to have consistency in all locations where they plan to work and see clients. When thinking about choosing your business location, it’s important to know that you can expand or travel to cities across the country and access workplaces that offer a consistently high level of hospitality.

Hospitality industry veteran Paula Gomprecht comes to Serendipity Labs after over a decade in the upper upscale hotel industry. She understands that driving loyalty comes from going beyond expectations.