Loneliness is on the rise, and it has become an epidemic in our society and in our workplaces.
Research indicates that half of Americans view themselves as lonely, and that loneliness reduces our lifespans as much as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.
Coworking spaces provide places where people can gather, get their work done, take meetings, and forge professional connections — filling in the gaps that were once covered by traditional offices. Here at MELD Coworking, we’re reviving a sense of in-person connection for freelancers, entrepreneurs, and remote workers.
You may be thinking: That all sounds nice, but what does human connection look like in a coworking space?
Since becoming the Community Manager at MELD Coworking two months ago, I’ve seen five concrete ways that human connection flourishes in our space:
1. Collaborative Projects
One grey Wednesday afternoon, a MELD member walked in with his wife, his brother, and a bunch of videography equipment. He needed to make a video for a business competition… and his video needed to be good. Really good.
Our community jumped into action. We worked from our desks while the camera panned around our space. We waved at the camera on cue, and a few members took a 10-minute break to make their acting debuts in the film.
Most of all — everyone cheered him on. Some people stopped him to ask what the video was about, while others marveled at the behind-the-scenes footage. Every day in a coworking space is a new adventure, and we love facilitating unexpected collaborations whenever we can.
2. After-Hours Events
During the day, people come to MELD to get their work done without distractions. Light socializing takes place in the break areas, and we have a Focus Room where people quietly pour their hearts into their work.
To strengthen the MELD community, we organize monthly after-hours events for our members. These gatherings are simple: we get together and share doughnuts, or a glass of sangria, or bite-sized brownies.
These events provide an opportunity to connect on a deeper level than the daily chitchat. We skip the quintessential question of “So what do you do?” and get right into sharing Halloween costume ideas, learning about each other’s interests, and laughing together.
3. Including Friends and Family
Our membership packages include guest passes, so sometimes MELD members bring their friends or family to work in our space — especially when they’re visiting from out of town.
Nothing makes me happier than watching our community members bring their loved ones to MELD, give them a tour, point out “This is where I sit!”, and introduce their parents to us.
It’s an honor to know that our space, that started as a renovated house, has become a true home. What could decrease loneliness more than this?
4. Diversity of Professions
On a given day at MELD, I see data analysts working alongside professional tutors. I see startup founders chatting with lawyers at the coffee pot. I see web designers, clean energy experts, and social media managers laughing together at our happy hours.
The range of professions within a coworking space adds unique perspectives that you might not find collaborating in a typical workspace. And you certainly won’t find that diversity by working alone in your apartment ?
5. Referrals — not just for business!
The organic “water cooler conversations” that unfold at MELD often lead to interesting knowledge and purchases, like:
“Have you had the Pop of the Month from Steel City Pops yet?”
“What’s the best bike route from where you live?”
“Where did you get those cat earrings?!”
“What type of food does your cat like?”
(Full disclosure: a lot of MELD Members love cats)
These lighthearted moments seem small, but when strung together every day, in a society where 46% of people feel alone… those moments may not be so small after all.
If you work from home and feel pangs of loneliness, I hope you consider trying a coworking space near you.
And if you’re interested in coworking in Austin, I hope you consider visiting MELD Coworking and ultimately joining us as a member. We’re proud of the connections that have sprouted from our space, and we would love to add your unique spark to the MELD community.