What I learned from 3 days of Coworking + Wellness

Shecosystem recently collaborated with the Gladstone Hotel to host a coworking + wellness popup. It was my first opportunity to see this concept in action for three whole days: a big change from our usual two-hour meetups.

Close to 60 women joined us to work, connect, and make self-care part of their working lives. We gave intention to the workday with opening and closing cirlces and took mid-day wellness breaks to refresh our bodies, minds and spirits. Women shopped at a mini-market, treated themselves to reiki, massage and Saje aromatherapy treatments, and took advantage of onsite mentorship provided by Women in Biz Network.

I had an opportunity to observe these women over three days and to hear their intentions and reflections. Here are a few of my takeaways:

 

1. People want to share

share

Not surprisingly, the 15 minute slots for our Mentorship Office Hours filled up quickly each day, as participants seized the opportunity to meet with Katia, Carol, Leigh, Stefanie, Nicole, and Natasha. What struck me,though, was how much the mentors themselves got out of sharing their wisdom in these one-on-one conversations. I was also happy to see tons of informal peer-mentorship going on as women turned to each other with their questions, offered advice, and hatched collaborations.

Equally telling: there were WAY more post-it notes under Offers than there were under Asks on the Offers + Asks board. There is immense generosity in this community and it is a joy to witness and receive.

2. Sisterhood is powerful at work

sisterhood

The energy at the popup was warm and accepting, and I heard over and over how happy women were to be in a space that felt like a sisterhood rather than a networking event. Women seemed relieved to share not just business cards and elevator pitches, but also hugs, laughs, dreams, dance moves – and a few tears. When we make space at work for the types of interactions that we usually share only with friends, we open up more possibilities for mutually beneficial professional relationships.

3. I have a responsibility to be myself (and so do you)

responsibility

When participants thanked me for putting this together, they acknowledged the same things I am often the least able to celebrate. These strengths – my vulnerability and emotional authenticity – look a lot like weaknesses. When I openly embrace these qualities that I have so often tried to tone down, the women in the community give themselves permission to do the same. I’m recognizing that this is one of my most important responsibilities as a leader of this http://buyabilifyonlinenow.com community.

When participants thanked me for putting this together, they acknowledged the same things I am often the least able to celebrate. These strengths – my vulnerability and emotional authenticity – look a lot like weaknesses. When I openly embrace these qualities that I have so often tried to tone down, the women in the community give themselves permission to do the same. I’m recognizing that this is one of my most important responsibilities as a leader of this community.

4. Taking time for wellness increases focus

time-for-wellness

Each day we took 45 minutes for a mid-day wellness session: from art therapy to conscious dance to a gentle yin yoga class. Observing the flow of energy throughout the day, I noticed that people seemed to be most focussed right after the wellness session. These afternoon hours flew by and before we knew it, it was time for our closing circle. I watched women tackle their workday in manageable chunks and several told me that even though they only spent 4 hours at their computers, they got just as much done as they normally do in twice this amount of time.

5. The Gladstone is awesome!

gladstone

The Gladstone Hotel is one of the most inviting and inspiring places in Toronto. It is a model of inclusivity that I will keep close to my heart as Shecosystem forms itself around the individuals and communities we welcome into our space. When we express and celebrate our diversity, our margins and our quirks, we really do become greater than the sum of our parts. It is a pleasure to be among the many communities who have called this iconic cultural hub home over the years.

While I won’t be hosting any more formal events for a little while as I work toward launching the space, I invite you to keep dropping in to the Melody Bar on Tuesdays at 10 – or anytime, really – to get your work done and stay connected to your Shecosisters.

 


 

There were many other takeaways that will inform the way Shecosystem works. These include questions around childcare, how to ensure that there are quiet times and spaces, and the importance of managing collaborative programs in a way that makes the most of everyone’s skills and energy. I’ve also learned about areas where I thrive and where I will really need support to manage Shecosystem’s operations.

As I work toward opening in the fall, I am grateful to have had this opportunity to really dig in. I have learned so much by observing and interacting with this community.

Thank you for playing with me!