From being an obscure concept when it was first introduced in 2005 to becoming a widely-accepted alternative to traditional offices in 2021, the evolution of coworking spaces has been phenomenal. Apart from industry giants like WeWork and Impact Hub, there are a plethora of small-scale coworking spaces cropping up across major cities and towns across the country.
While it is imperative to provide modern amenities and office supplies to attract clients, owners of coworking hubs also need to have a concrete plan in place to tackle conflicts between different parties sharing the workspace. Before we delve into conflict resolution tactics, we must address some common causes of friction between teams/individuals sharing the coworking space.
When people from different backgrounds, professions, ethnicities, and personal beliefs share a workspace, there are bound to be some disagreements. It is an intrinsic nature of humans to squabble over shared resources, and coworking communities are no different. Some common causes of conflicts include:
Theft, lack of trust, security concerns, etc, are some other problems that give rise to conflicts in coworking space.
The first and the most important step to resolve conflicts is to preempt problems and nip them in the bud.
The burnout caused by working from home during the pandemic can leave a major impact on how people interact with one another in a professional setting. Most individuals might feel awkward talking to other people in real life. Such situations may lead to unexpected tensions between members of the coworking community. If you wish to keep conflicts at bay, it is your responsibility to help people bond as a team and make them feel comfortable in the coworking community.
When you create an environment of coexistence and harmony within the shared working spaces, half the battle is won.
Lay a strong foundation to build a positive team culture by:
When your team culture is strong, there are lesser chances of conflicts creeping in. And when there are no conflicts, you don’t have to worry about resolution.
No matter how well your teams gel with one another, problems are bound to arise eventually. As the owner of the coworking enterprise, the most basic step you take towards problem-solving is by actively listening to all the parties involved in the conflict.
When you listen to people carefully, you would be able to grasp the underlying cause of the issue and that can help you devise a strategy for resolution. Apart from helping you understand the issue at hand, active listening also lets others speak and share their thoughts and opinions. When everyone has their say, it provides them with a medium to vent out their negative emotions and helps you big time in de-escalating the situation.
Don’t wash your dirty linen in public. We have all heard this idiom but tend to forget it during moments of heated verbal exchanges. As the owner of a coworking space, it is your responsibility to budge into ugly shouting matches and take the arguments to a private space to maintain the sanctity of the community.
If you ever witness discussions turning into full-blown abusive fights, you need to immediately remove the concerned parties from the public space and arrange for a private meeting to find an amicable conflict resolution. If both the parties involved can’t stand to be in the same room as one another, conduct separate meetings with each team giving them ample opportunity to blow off some steam.
Every Batman needs a Robin. Similarly, every coworking space owner needs a community manager to run the entire system smoothly. A community manager is not just responsible for day-to-day operations of the shared workspace, but they can also be your able aide in matters of conflict resolution.
If initial rounds of discussions do not sort out the issues between two parties, you could rely on the community manager to conduct the next rounds of mediation. They can also become a confidant to those in need if one party feels threatened or harassed by another party involved in the conflict.
By speaking to everyone involved in the dispute, you can gauge the mood of the group and can resort to one of the 5 styles of conflict resolution:
After you have conversed with both the conflicting factions and given them a platform to share their feelings about the issue, you need to conduct a private investigation by interviewing neutral members of the community. You can also view CCTV recordings to check how the conflict broke out and who initiated it. You don’t need to be Sherlock Holmes to get to the root cause of the dispute.
If the problem escalates to physical scuffles or both parties threatening each other with lawsuits, it is time to acknowledge that the issue is too big to be handled by you or the community manager. Such conflicts require either mediation or arbitration from corporate lawyers as they can help you with legal recourse without dragging your coworking space to court.
You must opt for a legal mediator if there is even a hint of compromise between the two conflicting parties. A mediator would try to resolve the issue as amicably as possible. On the other hand, an arbitrator should be called upon if a judgment needs to be passed on the issue outside of court. An arbitrator should be your last resort for legal intervention as they don’t resolve the conflict but just determine who is right and who is wrong.
From being an entrepreneur to being a service provider/facilitator, a coworking business owner has to juggle many hats. Apart from performing their major roles and responsibilities, they must learn these conflict resolution tips to squash the tension within the coworking community and retain clients for a longer period.
After all, a happy work environment is conducive to the productivity of all the parties in the coworking community. And there is no better parameter to measure the success of coworking space than the growth and prosperity of its clients.