Being mr. Watson’s Sherlock - bringing mr. Watson into the coworking space.
It has been almost a month ago since I started my internship at mr. Watson. Time to reveal some of the things I have been doing so far.
First of all let me introduce myself: I am Martijn, I love photography and computer graphics and I am a student in Communication and Multimedia Design. What does that mean (you may wonder), simply explained it means that I design creative solutions with interactive media. Like the Watsons, they’re building communities in coworking spaces. So what do I do at mr. Watson? I joined the mr. Watson team as an Interaction Design intern. That means that I create the communication between user and medium, input and output.
As somebody who has never worked in a coworking space before, there were several things I wanted to know before getting started on developing a concept. Since the mr. Watson platform is designed for coworking spaces, I had to know everything about them. I also had to learn about the coworking space we work in: Katshoek.
The coworking space in Katshoek was founded in 2013 and now houses over 50 companies, startups and freelancers. When I just started at mr. Watson, I expected to work with a small crew of only 5 people, but I soon discovered that you actually work together with everybody around you. In Katshoek there are a lot of creative people who are willing to share their knowledge and experience, which creates an amazing atmosphere.
In the past month I have been working mainly on one project: bringing mr. Watson into the physical space. Right now mr. Watson exists only on the web, so the only way members can communicate through the platform is via the internet. It is my goal to find a solution through research that will improve the sense of community in our coworking space.
The first thing I discovered about coworking spaces is that worldwide there are many different types of coworking spaces. Big ones like the Workbar in Boston with nearly 100 thousand square feet of office for rent. Small ones like Veel Hoeden in Pella, a small town in Iowa with a population of only ten thousand people. I even found about plans to build a coworking space on a boat that lies anchored off the shore of California: Blueseed. But all coworking spaces value the same things. Coworking spaces are about collaboration, openness, community, accessibility and sustainability. Coworking spaces strive to create an open environment where people can share and work together. mr.Watson is mainly interested in building communities, which brought me to another subject: the Sense of Community.
Sense of Community
When I started my research on Sense of Community I discovered that ellaborate research had already been conducted by McMillan and Chavis. In their research they put that to build Sense of Community you have to consider four key values: membership, influence, integration & fulfillment of needs and shared emotional connection. McMillan and Chavis also developed the Sense of Community Index (SCI), which can be used to measure the Sense of Community. I found this extremely valuable for the next step of my research. With the SCI, I could easily get to know in what state the community of Katshoek currently was.
The next step was to put the SCI in a survey that the community members could fill in. I asked the community to help me in my research and a staggering 32 people took part in the survey within a week: nearly a quarter of the entire community. The results (dutch) were very interesting, there were some people who rated the community extremely high but there was also one person who didn’t have anything good to say about it at all. Mostly the community in Katshoek got rated with an average of three out of five. There were several statements that scored rather low below the average. The results from these statements are exactly what I was looking for: problems to be solved, needs to be fulfilled or chances to be taken.
In the past month, I have learned a lot about coworking spaces and what’s going on in Katshoek. With all that I have learned, I now really want to move on to the next step. Which will be all about finding out how to solve the problems, fulfill the needs and take the chances that are ready to be taken. You will read about this in a future blogpost!