A couple months ago I surveyed members about why they value Collective Agency, and how they most want Collective Agency described. The results were very consistent for members here and the results matched our online reviews over the past 4 years. Here’s the words people agreed on, some information on what that means, and then a look at the future.

Productive work – People value getting results here. As part of that, I and Heather are accountable; when we say we’ll do something, we do it. I think this relates to doing professional-level work; many members here work for the biggest brand name companies in the world or are the best at what they do, getting the most views of any video on Facebook, or writing one of the top 5 American novels, or having the most prestigious university as a client… but members are super-modest here. I find that interesting. As part of being productive, we have professional things like one of the fastest internet connections of any place in Portland.

Cozy workplace – When we started, we went for a ‘cozy fireplace’ feel. If something isn’t cozy, we don’t do it here. You can see it in the lighting, the bricks, the interactions among people here. We’re the most relaxed coworking place in Portland, and one of the coziest workplaces.

Community – People who visit here say that we have a real community. Many people say we’re not like some other places that talk about community but don’t have people interacting, don’t have a sense of ownership by the members, etc.

Socializing – We have many community activities. No one socializes all the time, but some people interact with other people some of the time, and that makes for a joyful workplace.

Inspiration – People are more productive here by socializing. In 5 minutes I can show someone something and get advice that saves me literally days of work.

Friendship – Honestly I was surprised that this was such a high value for a workplace, but since seeing this, I’ve started to expect it here. When we started over 4 years ago, commitment was a main value, and now I think friendship is a specific kind of commitment.

Some other words that do come up here are:

Openness – We have openness in interactions here, and one of people’s favorite things about being here is the open floorplan (with the conference rooms available for members too). People who visit and become members often see how it feels to be here. The openness is part of the relaxed feel.

Responsiveness – I think this is something that people look for before they sign up. I know it’s not a common word. But when a request is made, I or Heather or the person asked, responds. We do what we say we’ll do. We’re accountable. We try to find a considerate and joyful solution. We ask how things are for people, and we’re always making improvements. This is what I value about democracy – when someone wants something, they say what it is and/or make it happen directly. We are a business democracy, a business republic, one of the world’s most democratic workplaces. The way that’s most visible is simply in the optional member meetings on the first Wednesday of each month, the suggestion and appreciation sheets on the wall in the kitchen, and the interactions here. There’s a culture quiz that I enjoy, which measures this.

High expectations – At Collective Agency I think people expect and trust that joyful appreciative amazing things will happen. Or at least reliable quality. But really, joyful social productive things. For me, that expectation, and that supportiveness, makes it fun to be here.

Written by Alex Linsker