We Aren't Desks and Chairs

By Elizabeth Cook

Labels. We all have them, we all use them. Literally and metaphorically. Without labels for salt and sugar, the results could be fairly traumatic to the unsuspecting taste buds. And nor should we assume that comedians are funny all the time; on and off stage. Just ask Rowan Atkinson.

Labels define, they communicate skills, they clarify and can be really really helpful. Until they aren’t. Labels can sometimes misdirect or miscommunicate. Sometimes unintentionally, but miscommunicate they do, all the same.

Let me offer you a personal example. I am an identical twin, been so all my life. So that was my label for most of my young days. And it is one hundred percent true! I couldn’t deny it, nor ignore it and I certainly had some fun with it (switching places with my sister during a doctor’s appointment, implying that her condition was miraculously cured, comes to mind).

However there was more to me than being a twin. I had a name, I wasn’t just “twinny” or “you two” or “the girls”. I learnt the violin,  loved scratch and sniff stickers, played netball and eucalyptus leaves smelt like home to me. Yes I am a twin, but it didn’t define me or communicate much about who I really was. And I definitely wasn’t my sister. 

So when I tell people that I manage a co-working space within Power Road Studios, in leafy Chiswick, the label ‘co-working’ can communicate a fair bit, but it can also miscommunicate. In fact, a glazed look is quite a common reaction and the response is usually “oh, like We Work?”.Then my heart skips a beat as I can then say, yes, a bit like them, but we are also nothing like them. 

We are more like a connected community. 

I love telling people how we are still fairly new and that we started from scratch with delivery boxes piled high and have memories of unpacking, assembling desks and chairs, and awaiting plant deliveries (with a quiet panic, hoping that I wasn’t going to kill them).

I remember wondering what my space would look and feel like with actual humans and not figments of my imagination, and wondering what my member community would look like in terms of reflecting our culture and values.

I love sharing with people what our space is now. 

A welcoming, safe place for whoever wants to work. 

Full and buzzing with actual humans! We value authentic connections that last longer than the “how was your day” chit chat to “I think I just quit my job” or “I’m really worried about…”. 

We connect over member spotlight lunches, networking events and social media power posting sessions. We celebrate their wins, be it for business awards or in sporting competitions, and we share the news. And sometimes, friendships last longer than memberships.

We remember each other’s birthdays. We have Friday Funyays that often consist of balloon animals, paper plane competitions and table tennis. We support our local community each Wednesday through market stalls by handmade sellers. We connect with other PRS tenants who catch up over lunches or coffee with us, and share the desire to be encouraged and heard.

And…we say “hi” but we also say “bye” at the end of the day. So simple and effortless, yet it shows our members that we notice when they are in and also when they are absent, and that hopefully in turn conveys that their presence matters to us. 

What is Groundworks?  

We aren’t a large chain.

We don’t have clients.

We aren’t a private members club.

Who are we?

We are a co-working space built on the foundation of community and connection.

We are bespoke.

We have members.

We connect with our PRS community and our local community of Chiswick and beyond. 

We value our members, and their success is our success, and we celebrate. 

In life we are often defined by our label, but we are also defined by what we aren’t. And I think you’d be surprised with us here at Groundworks. A co-working space yes, but we aren’t desks and chairs.