Contact info

Locus Workspace Website: http://www.locusworkspace.cz
Location 1: Krakovská 22, 110 00 Prague 1 - Wenceslas Sq.
Location 2: Slezská 45, 130 00 Prague 3 - Vinohrady
Mob: +420 732 501 105, Email: info@locusworkspace.com

Monday, September 12, 2016

"Embarrassing confessions of a coworking space"; or "The evolution of a 'clean your dishes' message"

Dirty dishes have a negative effect on the coworking space for all members. The vast majority of members clean their own dishes and are annoyed by those few who don't. It's usually just glasses and mugs and spoons: easy things to clean. Given most coworking spaces' strong commitment to the value of community it might seem that getting members to consistently pitch in and clean their dishes would be one of the easier challenges in running a coworking space.

Not so. Dirty dishes persist. And it's not just the case for Locus Workspace: it seems to be an acknowledged problem for coworking spaces generally, including those well-known for their strong sense of community. Nonetheless, perhaps for the reasons just noted, it is not without some sense of... embarrassment? fear? impropriety?... that coworking spaces admit the problem. And now it's Locus's turn to air it's dirty laundry dishes. Or at least to talk about some of the things we've done to try to end our tragedy of the commons (unfortunately without the greatest record of success).

We started from day one with the "Locus Rules". Every person who joins Locus has to read the rules and click a box indicating that they read them. The rules are short, and cleaning up after yourself, including doing your dishes, is one of the few things members commit to (just in case they thought they were renting a serviced office rather than joining a coworking space). That worked for the most part when we were a very small coworking space, probably because members are more inclined to clean up after themselves than not, regardless of the rules.

But over time as the space grew, more and more dishes seemed to pile up in and around the sink. We joked about different things that might put a stop to it. We could just put a picture of a person looking at us above the sink. That seems to work! Better yet, make the onlooker in the image of Jesus (can you tell that one of my other hats is as a moral psychologist?).

How about surveillance cameras! But Locus (or to be fair, just I) had already been the butt of some members' parody of the "Locus Rules," turning it from a "Community Workspace" into a "Communist Workspace".


Maybe surveillance cameras aren't the key to building a strong community?

Instead we went for increasing the number of days the cleaning person comes and just reminding members periodically to clean their dishes and not be jerks. The problem persisted, but until recently seemed to stay pretty stable without getting too out of hand.

But over the months and even years the dish problem has occasionally reared its ugly head. Inspired more recently by a blog post from another coworking space owner who seems to have done wonders at building a strong sense of community (hats of to Angel K., founder of Cohere in Fort Collins, Colorado), we tried blatant plagiarism.

An image from Angel's blog post, "the most effective message to date":


"If it ain't broke, don't fix it," right? Anyway, here was our version:


There are a lot of reasons I'm not crazy about this note. First, I'm not a big fan of plagiarism (neither is the community manager who put it up at my suggestion), despite the fact that in this context it doesn't seem like a big deal, the original version was posted as a recommendation about what works to other coworking spaces managers, and adding a citation in this context would presumably undermine the message. 

Second, it's not the kind of language Czechs would use lightly, and Vlaďka is Czech (I remember signing a letter to a Czech back in the day when people wrote letters, "Love, Will" and being told--uncomfortably--that she didn't know I felt that way about her). I guess Czechs have since become more familiar with English peculiarities, but the experience has stuck with me. 

Third, it just doesn't communicate how many of us feel about the dirty dishes in and around the sink. "Don't be a jerk," or, "We're not your maids!" better sums it up. But I generally feel extremely lucky to have the group of members we have at Locus, so an angry sounding note that only applies to a small fraction of the members doesn't strike the right tone either. But the "Cohere" message still felt to me like it didn't have an authentic Locus tone. 

So I was somewhat happy to see another community manager make light of the first message:



In case you can't read it, here's what it says:

"Washing a dish is not torture /
Unless it ends up in the mortu- /
ary."

Still, while I like keeping things on the humorous side, the more words we use, the less likely people are to read them, and the more fun we poke, the less likely people are to take the whole thing seriously. Unsure what to do, however, I succumbed to a classic case of decision paralysis and did nothing at all. 

Still, the dish problem has not improved.

Happily, I'm lucky to have another incredible community manager who has a knack for saying things directly and without pulling punches, without it being offensive. So here's the newest version of the "do your dishes" wall of fame: 



In case you can't read it, here's what it says:

"GUYS,
WE DO HAVE 
DISH WASHER!!!
IF YOU DO NOT LIKE
WASHING UP YOU DO
NOT HAVE TO.
BUT! DO NOT LEAVE!
CUPS & GLASSES IN SINK.
IT TAKES 3 SEC TO
PUT IT IN DISHWASHER
& KARMA IS FOR FREE.
NO LOVE, LENKA"

Now there's a message I can get behind. And behind that "No Love" don't you just feel the love?! 

Now what do we do about the kitchen without a dishwasher?

Monday, August 29, 2016

Meet Locusites aka Locus Workspace Members

What are Locusites up to?

Co-Founder of Shakespeare and Sons and The Prague Monitor Joins Locus
Locus Workspace was pleased to welcome long-time expat Bryn Perkins as a coworker. Bryn has been living in the Czech Republic for 15 ½ years, where he has had a variety of interesting jobs. He has experience running an Internet business, managing a Prague-based hostel group, working as a management consultant, and leading an energy-saving consulting firm; he presently works in Business Intelligence for the mobile payments company Boku. Two of the most impressive contributions to the Prague cultural scene, however, were the co-founding and management of the bookstore and café Shakespeare a synové (Shakespeare and Sons) and The Prague Daily Monitor.
Shakespeare a synové started off on Krymská street in Vršovice in 2002, but now has two locations, one in Mala strana and one in Berlin. After opening, the Krymská bookstore nurtured the English writing community by hosting readings and other events in its eclectic and bohemian space, which continues to be appreciated as Café v Lese. Bryn sold his share to his partners at the end of 2003.
Bryn.jpg
Bryn was also a co-founder of The Prague Daily Monitor, which he managed with editor Theo Schwinke until 2009, when it was acquired by Prague TV. It continues to be an important information source for English speakers in the Czech Republic. See: www.praguemonitor.com.
Bryn believes that truly great businesses are those that are both financially successful and positively affect all their stakeholders (including owners, employees, suppliers, customers, and the community at large). He is excited by “open-book management,” in which employees are taught how “the numbers” drive their company’s business, are updated on these numbers regularly, and share in the success they help create. Though a relatively small number of businesses are run this way, there are some impressive examples of successful businesses that have taken this approach.

Two of Bryn’s “business heroes” are Ari Weinzweig and Jack Stack. Ari Weinzweig co-founded Zingerman’s Deli in Ann Arbor, Michigan in 1982 and now is CEO and co-founder of the highly successful Zingerman's gourmet food company, with revenues over $50 million. Jack Stack, a highly creative businessman, is the founder and CEO of SRC Holdings. He is known as "The Father of Open-Book Management,” an approach he has used to great success. His company has helped to start scores of successful businesses founded by employees who learned about business while working at his open-book companies.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

The Human Touch in Digital Marketing





 
Coworkers at Locus Workspace in Prague
 
This article “Customers Need a Human Touch in Digital Marketing” put out by kentico.com interested me, so I thought I’d share the key points and a link if you want to read the entire article. http://www.kentico.com/product/resources/whitepapers/customers-need-a-human-touch-in-digital-marketing/h2h-whitepaper-05

In a nutshell: pick up the phone, or skype, or have live webchats, or meet with people in person when possible.

Other pearls of wisdom:

Question the value of your technology
·       Resist relying too much on technology. Balance technology and automation with common sense and sensitivity to customers.
·       Often marketers rely too much on their own silos of data and don’t include a wide variety of data sources
·       Analytics work best when data silos in the organization are reduced, and different perspectives are used to create analytical models

Genuinely connect with people
·       Customers want to talk to and do business with people, not organizations or brands.
·       Buying decisions often include an emotional component that is best influenced by interactions with the people in a company
·       Establish sincere relationships with customers and build trust with person to person communication
·       Companies that deliver better individualized experiences to their customers are more likely to outperform competitors in sales and revenue, as well as retaining customers for the long term

Learn to listen and let the customer speak
·       Listen well, be empathetic. 
·       Ask questions to understand more about what the customer needs and wants
·       Interactive communications with customers require respect, full attention and sincerity
·       Invite customers to share their experiences and interesting moments with products and services or interactions with various people in the company.
·       Make it easy for customers to tell their own stories

Make communication with customers a priority
·       Invest in resources that facilitate responding well to customer needs
·       Protect customer privacy
·       Companies more effectively reach customers through continuous data collection and analytics, and realistic customer segmentation and personas

Provide quality content 
      ·       Become a trusted resource for information, guidance and ideas that help customers 
 ·        Marketing is not about the brand
 

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Locus Co-Workers in Prague Find Humor in the film Humr (Lobster)




Locus co-workers recently attended a showing of the dystopian film Lobster (or Humr in Czech) at the Světozor Cinema, which is only three blocks away from Locus Workspace. (One advantage to seeing films in Prague is that many are not dubbed, but rather have subtitles, which allows great acting to emerge no matter what language it is in.) For anyone who has contemplated the impossibility of finding that perfect someone, or who has felt ostracized for being single in a world obsessed with “coupling,” Lobster, as critic Sheila O’Malley notes, “is a welcome breath of freezing cold, poisoned air.”  LMc

http://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/the-lobster-2016

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Co Working or Working in a Home Office

I have now experienced both working from home and working from a co-working space.  Both have their advantages and disadvantages. As my business changes from freelancing to bringing others on board to help, a home office is no longer suitable.


In an ideal world having both a home office and a desk in a coworking environment is the best option.  There are days when it would be great just to stay at home and relax more than I would in an office.  Very occasionally I miss having an office at home during the weekends. – I have ended up working weekends three or four times during the year, so it is not a huge drawback going to the office.

The Benefits of a Home Office

I always like the time saving when working from home.  Breakfast, shower, then work – rather than having to spend time going to an office.  I have sometimes found myself not leaving the house for two or three days, I am sure that is not great for my mental welfare.

Young Children and Home Office

My youngest is now nineteen months.  For the first two months, it was great working from home – though I did a lot less work than normal.  To be there to help was good for everyone.

Not Being Around Other People

I can find other people trying.  It is often much easier to separate myself and get on with work.  I have worked in places where co-workers would be highly negative, be very loud, interrupt with a bloody cat video that you really have to watch because it is such a laugh – there are times when people can drive me mad.

However, while working from home I found that a day or two could pass without having a conversation with anyone except my other half in the evening.  Sometimes the isolation was so much that I would walk to the shop just to get out of the house.  So my high points on personal interaction was a brief conversation with a shop assistant.  Not great.

Quiet

At times I need complete quiet around me for some tasks that require deep concentration or while creating videos.  It is impossible in an open office to have good sound quality on videos while others are talking nearby.

Thankfully the coworking space I inhabit has a meeting room.

High Self Discipline

During the last ten years, I have worked from home about half of the time.  This has created great self-discipline.  No matter what is going on around me I can sit down and get on with the work at hand.

The Benefits of Co-Working

I work now from Locus in Prague.  For my clients, it would make no difference what city I was in.  I have met a few co-workers that use this flexibility to live in and see other cities in Europe.

Professional Environment

Only once while working from home was my office not a spare bedroom. Even then that office turned into a bit of a store room. Due to remotely working with clients I use video and screen share.
I find it embarrassing to have a bed or storage boxes in the background while having calls.  I know many do not like this – but image is hugely important in business, (and in life).  First impression matter.

It does not matter if others are in the background having calls or talking while I am on a call – this is what I expect in any office.

Office Address

Like most other around me, I find most of my business via my website.  I have seen competitors use their home address on their website.  It does not look professional; at least a virtual membership in a coworking space looks after this aspect.

Additionally, most coworking spaces are in the centre of cities.  This makes it easier to meet with clients.

Google local is likely the most important part of SEO for many smaller local businesses. It is much better to turn up in these searches in the middle of a city with higher search volume than in some small village or town.

Everything is Organised

The internet connection is fast and I never have to touch it.  The coffee machine works and I never have to clean it.  The trash is emptied and I never have to think about it.  You get the picture.
A large amount of trivial items that have to be organised in your own office are there and working.  This lets me just get on with work, instead of making lists of things that need to be done that steal away my time.

Being Around Other People

I run a few websites and an SEO company.  Ideas come more often when interacting with others.  I get information from people about tools for writing, publishing, project management, the list is endless.  I understand that I can look up this information online.  Running websites has imbued me with a lack of trust in most information online – everyone has an agenda – as one of my philosophy lecturers who was also a priest told me, as I was arguing about his agenda.

We started a mastermind group that includes six members.  We meet every two weeks, talk about problems, set goals, and are held accountable for these.  This has improved my work tremendously forcing me to regularly review goals and stick with them.

Separation of Work and Home

I have been out of my home office and back in coworking for the last three months. This has been the biggest advantage - when I am at home I am not thinking about work and at work I am not thinking of home.

While working at home, sometime during breakfast my head would move into work and I was less present for my family.  Lunch could be a challenge to talk about non-work related subjects.  I would eat my lunch and head right back to my office.

Now I find myself talking more with my other half during lunch on the phone than I did while working at home – who would have guessed?

Better Concentration Skills

Over time, concentration skills become better if you work in environments that are not completely quiet.  This can be difficult in the beginning and some perseverance is required.  But you can end up being able to work anywhere, which is a great habit to develop.


I have made my choice, working in the company of other people is more stimulating, encouraging, and motivational for my temperament. Leslie writes on his own blog, but more often on his company website.