BELONGING

The way we work: Neighbors find new ways to connect, cowork, and celebrate

By

Oliver Jones

– VOL. 3

So much has changed over the past year, and yet so much is still the same. The line at General Irving in Brooklyn may still be spaced out, but the masks have come off. We still pick up after our dogs, but now it’s easier for the owners to chat at the dog park. We share lemons, and the WiFi password, and the name of that great local restaurant where the barriers have recently come down.

But the thing that perhaps changed the most was how and where we worked. When living rooms became offices, we discovered a valuable lesson: remote working functioned a whole lot better when it wasn’t done in isolation.

“There have been countless articles on the importance of maintaining a healthy work-from-home space during the pandemic,” says Jessica Prestia, a Venn community leader who has been spearheading the neighborhood platforms coworking initiative in Bushwick, Brooklyn. “But in reality, not everyone has enough space at home to do that.”

Image of coworking spaces post pandemic

Venn Neighbors are able to work and connect with others at Venn Cowork in Bushwick

That’s where Venn coworking comes in. In Brooklyn, Venn Neighbor Michael Wright connects with the community through the app and at in-person events, but mostly at Venn’s shared spaces. Wright uses the large open desk space at Venn Cowork to make custom hoodies and display the pieces on racks for potential clients.

 “The majority of our Venn Cowork members live in the neighborhood and are seeking a solution that is affordable, close by, and has really a great vibe,” says Kathy Cohen, a training and development lead at Venn Tel Aviv. “We found that people felt safer knowing that the people around them in the coworking space were their friends. It was a way for them to get a break from the loneliness and from the routine of bed-chair-sofa-bed.” 

In addition to a break from their housebound routine, Venn Cowork gives participants something other coworking spaces cannot— an opportunity to gain from and contribute to the Venn community.   

Image of coworking spaces post pandemic

Venn Cowork doubles as an event space, like hosting an art opening for a Neighbor.

“What’s special here are the people themselves and their willingness to meet a new face and get to know one another.

“It’s the communal aspect that makes it unique,” says Cohen. “It’s a space that is a home for everyone who chooses to be there. All of us are accountable for the house rules, cleanliness, organization and even the playlist. Accountability leads to responsibility and ownership. We invite members to influence the way it looks, feels, operates, and sounds.”

Adds Prestia, “What’s special here are the people themselves and their willingness to meet a new face and get to know one another. The open and shared format of our coworking space supports this type of engagement between people.” 

Which is to say, as much as coworking members gain from joining Venn—creatively and professionally inspiring workspaces, an opportunity to be a part of community events and, of course, a chance to influence the playlist—it’s just as significant as what Venn gets from them. Namely, a chance to deepen and expand its ties to a neighborhood it is always trying to find new ways to connect with and celebrate.

“Venn is continually expanding its definition of who is in the community,” says Mike Dyer, Venn CMO. “At first it was resident-focused and now it has expanded to small businesses and coworking. We are always looking to invest in what already makes a neighborhood great.”