Adapting to your environment

A conversation with Tara Everett, Founder of Canoe Coworking

Posted by [Pauline Roussel] on Thursday, August 6, 2020
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Hack Coworking Online day one was all about adaptation somehow. After talking about how workspaces will adapt from 2020 and beyond, inviting coworking spaces to share their ways of adapting to the pandemic we invited Tara Everett to share with us her unique adaptation story, one linked to her local environment.

As we often say, coworking can have many forms and if there is one thing COVID-19 highlighted is that coworking can also happen virtually. But how does virtual coworking work? How do you come to the decision to make one? Keep scrolling down and (re)watch the story of Canoe Coworking.

Below the key takeaways of her talk.

That’s my coworking story

The conversation started with a bit of background story. Coming from Winnipeg, Canada Tara identifies as an indigenous person (or North-American Indian), which has a big importance in defining the way she approaches coworking.

“*Build a community before you build a physical space*” is an advice Tara got 2 years ago when she first heard about coworking and got interested in the movement. Taking this advice, she went on with looking for a space and ending up finding 2 that didn’t lead anywhere for multiple reasons.

Not being able to find a space she liked actually pushed Tara to look at coworking in a different way, one that would rather be more virtual and launched Canoe Coworking - her own virtual coworking space. But being online does not mean she won’t ever have a physical space to gather her community, it is rather a way for her to start coworking and grow, with the time, in the right direction.

Adapting to her local environment

As Tara puts it “Canada is a rather large country”. Willing to connect with indigenous people from her region, she also understands how challenging it can be because of bad infrastructure. Wanting to be an inclusive community, she didn’t want distance or financial difficulties to come in the way of bringing people together, and thus here, virtual coworking made a lot of sense. Not only her members do not have to travel to her space (which would be a challenging thing during winters especially) but people from the entire region can actually become a part of the community as the only thing they need is an internet connection.

Welcome to my virtual coworking space

Up until our chat with Tara, we were not able to “really” see and experience the different coworking spaces speakers were presenting, simply because everything was online. But, with Tara and her virtual coworking, we got the chance to get a real tour. To create her virtual coworking space, she partnered with walkable workplace, just because the experience they created with their software was a reflection of her vision and what she was seeking to build. And this is how it looked:

The software is really visual and allows members in a few eye-blink to see who’s around and in which rooms. Clicking around, allows you to enter either the lobby, a meeting room, the communal area, or even someone’s office.Members can even have guests, meaning they can invite someone into the space and that person would only access the desk / the room the member is part of. For safety reasons, guests can’t see other members and can only interact with the person who invited them.

About finding the right software

Building her virtual community took some time and research. Wanting to stray away from zoom, Tara liked the fact that members can see each other but do not have to necessarily interact with each other if they don’t want to. Another deciding factor for Tara was the fact that walkable workplace is a social enterprise, something she really wanted to support by becoming one of their clients. They work hands-in-hands to create the experience Tara wanted to bring her community together, adding for instance certain integrations her members needed.

About growing the community

We then started discussing growth for virtual coworking. For Tara it’s all about working closely with her local network and community, getting their support to grow organically, and build a supportive community. The memberships she created also reflect the level of involvement each new joining member wants out of the community. “We don’t want to take away from other communities, we just want to add to them and encourage them to look at this as a potential option for their community spaces right now.”

Canoe Coworking is still in its early days but Tara has big ambitions for her space. Eager to grow with her members’ needs at heart, she also wants to spend time getting to know them, understanding how Canoe Coworking can add the most value to their lives.