Since half a year I run a Seats2meet location, called Peer!, in Amersfoort-North with Mirjam Gaasterland. Every now and then I blog with an update how I manage as mesh facilitator at Peer! As mesh facilitator I am responsible for building a mesh consisting of companies, freelancers and professionals. The members of this community are connected by the value they experience from working at Seat2meet: unexpected business opportunities, gaining knowledge and having all you need for your work at your disposal. In short: a place where you can develop as a person as well as a company. This stimulating and building is a challenging and fascinating task and in this blog I share with you my experiences.
What does a mesh look like?
After six months we see the mesh grow. It is a swarm in which people and companies fly with us for a while and then continue their own path again. Often we see them come back and they fly with us again. It is difficult to make an visual organization chart of a swarm. The visual that comes the nearest to a organisation chart is that of a social network. (do not confuse this with social media, but think of a network of people and companies). It seems like a unstructured web of persons and companies. Lately, during a meeting about The Future of Work some of the participants were convinced that it is impossible for some people to understand how to live and work in a network structure and it would be impossible for them to adapt. However, a network organisation is nothing new, it is a natural structure. We lived in this structure as tribes. Later as village communities. In the rural situation we see this structure in church communities and (sports)clubs/associations. Or in the smallest form: a family. The mesh or swarm is actually a very natural structure for people to live and work in.
Patterns in the mesh
So a schematic chart of a mesh looks like a web of people and companies, often compared with a swarm of birds. One cannot see immediately how this mesh is connected, but now I work in a mesh for some months now, I recognize a number of returning patterns. Possibly that some of these patterns disappear or appear, that is the whole idea of this most fluid organisation structure. These patterns are:
- Incubator-movement: At first an entrepeneur or freelancer works in the workspace and thanks to serendipity in this workspace, a new lucrative collaboration starts. If this collaboration is starting to grow, this start-up rents meeting spaces for their meetings or customer events. Continuing business, the collaboration rents its own office space for a few days per week. Finally the collaboration is a mature company and continues on its own strength in its own office space. They return when they need additional meeting space.
- Hub-movement: A company wants to facilitate a place for employees to work and meet in a different city where they are located. They are working in the workspace, rent a private office space or rent meeting spaces with customer events and internal meetings.
- Connect-movement: A freelancer works on projectbasis for clients and returns in between projects to his steady working space in the mesh at Seats2meet. During projects he connects clients to Seats2meet when they need a meeting space for training, a meeting or event and so the freelancer connects new networks to the mesh.
- Inclusive-beweging: Everybody works within the mesh, also the people that need to re-integrate or have less possibilities at the labour market. For example an intern with a lower learning ability works in the community and works with the person that is her co-worker for that day. In the mesh you do what you are good at.
The use of patterns
For me it is important to recognize these patterns, because I now can act according these patterns. In the end all the co-swarmers are users of our services, whether it concerns monetary or social capital. The value network is the key and that users actually experience these value. To facilitate this value as good as possible, it is important to offer the right services at the right time. In marketing language one could speak of different customer journeys per movement. With the proper services matching the customer journey, we can facilitate the user in every step of his journey.
Are you a frequent user of the Seats2meet-working space or an operator, or if you are part of a different fluid organisation? I am very curious what your experiences are and whether you recognize more patterns. I would like to hear them from you!