In the second edition of our Travel Trendsetters series, we sat down for a chat with Georgette Eva, Community Manager at Croissant. As a community builder for a legion of remote workers, Georgette has the inside track on tips and tricks to get the most out of coworking, so we asked her to share some of her secrets with us.
What is Croissant and who is it for?
“Croissant is an app that helps freelancers, small teams, and entrepreneurs access coworking spaces in their city, or even if they’re traveling around the world. You can check in by the hour, the whole day, just drop by into a space when you need. Some members use it to host client meetings or just to focus for the day. I use the app around New York to explore different neighborhoods, focus, and get inspired. It’s also a great way to meet fellow freelancers and remote workers. We’re all in it together.”
Georgette hails from Atlanta — a commuter-centric city — which meant that she was often homebound or working from nearby coffee shops. Moving to New York was a shift away from the dreary routine of a regular 9 to 5, an opportunity to pop around the city and become acquainted with different coffee shops and public working spaces.
What is one word that best describes your community philosophy? Explain it to us.
“Symbiotic. Along with the Croissant community, I’m part of other groups like Freelancing Females, feminist Facebook groups, and different writer groups. There’s a lovely give-and-take in communities that really speak to a person’s inherent goodwill. When someone has a question, needs help on a project, or is looking for answers, they’ll put it out there with an offer or an ask. And it’s great to see how they receive help or even just a boost so they know they’re not the only one dealing with it.”
Georgette is all too aware that working remotely and running your own company, both from a freelance and product development perspective, can be isolating. Knowing that there are others out there going through the same issues is reassuring. Something as simple as asking your neighbor for the WiFi password, or making coffee together, can turn into networking opportunities and establish a common ground between remote workers. It’s this “symbiosis” that makes the Croissant/coworking community so supportive.
What’s your first day advice to anyone starting out at a new coworking space?
“Be friendly, open, and courteous. I always try to introduce myself to the community manager at a new space. They’re your guiding light if you ever need anything in the space. You also might feel weird to be in a new space, but just be open on what to expect. Each space is different and has a different vibe, set of values, or community base. Each space is different, which is great because then that means everyone has options to really choose an office that suits their own preferences.”
This former writer’s workdays vary based on what she needs to accomplish. She prefers quiet spaces for deep, focused tasks and more social spaces if she has meetings or calls scheduled.
“Once I select a space, I’ll check-in on the app and get to work. As a remote team, we all keep in touch on Slack, a weekly stand-up, and Skype calls for meetings. I’ll focus on my daily responsibilities and look at overarching projects as I go. This might sound bad, but some days I choose to not take a lunch break. I am, however, a big proponent in recharging and doing a screenless break. I really love packing my own lunches and having time to myself or meeting a friend near their office for lunch.”
How do you go about creating an inclusive experience or event for Croissant?
“When we host events, we do it in tandem with other communities. The communities vary and we’ve partnered with groups from a female expats group in Berlin to an entrepreneurial Idea Exchange in NYC. We like partnering with passionate people with missions in line with ours: looking at the future of work and how everyone’s taking part. And we keep that in mind as we meet other communities and work towards making the message inclusive and welcoming.”
Does working as a freelancer differ from working for a company that caters to many freelancers?
“Working solely as a freelancer was great because I had freedom and had personal accountability, but it was also stressful. I’m a social person by nature and it took a bit to learn what sort of work-style suited me best. I tried freelancing and a 9 to 5, and now find myself on a remote team — which I love. My team trusts me and I can work independently, but I balance ideas off of them and come to them with something I’m struggling with. Together, it melds the best of both situations. As a former freelancer, I definitely feel that my team brings their experiences to all aspects of our start-up, from Marketing to Support responses.”
What and where are the communities that help you in life, and how do you rely on them?
“I’m part of several communities I’ve found through Facebook or Meetup. I’m part of a book club, a feminist-intersectionality collective, a freelance women’s group, and several writer groups. Different groups have different ways to meet in person or chat online. I really appreciate the connections they’ve helped me make and the problems they’ve helped me solve.
“I also like joining in discussions to see if I can lend an ear or perspective. I particularly love my Croissant community because it’s really helped me put myself out there. Introducing yourself can be intimidating at first, but the Croissant community is full of people working on something unique, something they feel passionate about, and they’re so open to sharing it with you.”
We also quizzed Georgette on why freelancers and remote workers need communities and networks.
“Work takes up so much of your day and energy... A traditional 9 to 5 does bring on that benefit of being near others, sharing a common goal, being social while you work. Like anybody else, freelancers and remote workers still need a place to let off steam or have social or productive interaction. A community really helps you grow and get out of yourself.”
What are your top tips for someone on day one of starting out at a new coworking space?
- Introduce yourself — preferably with a handshake.
I learned that when I started out in journalism, and it’s been the best advice. If that seems random, I usually just say hello to whoever I see at the communal table when I take a seat.
- Set people at ease
Asking a question when you need to, or making a joke about something topical is a good way to set people at ease and create common ground.
- Read the situation
I try not to force speaking to someone if they don’t seem up to it. I’ll work and then see if the situation feels open to it.
I don’t have a good ice-breaker, unfortunately. Usually, I try to offer a fact about me then ask them a question in kind, because I think that sets people at ease. But my cheesy go-to ice-breaker is, “What does a polar bear do?”
Answer (drum roll….): Break the ice!
Coworking is more than just going into a room and buckling down to work, Georgette notes, although there’s nothing wrong if you choose that approach. “I figured we don’t have to talk to anyone, we can go in and work. And you can. That’s totally doable too. I love it when I need to hustle and get things done. But for those days I feel a little more social, I’ll strike up a conversation with someone. Or I’ll say hello and get to know a member I’ve seen in the space before but never met. It’s not just a space to work solo. It’s what you put out there.”
Another benefit of being part of the coworking community is personal development, according to Georgette. “I definitely think that I’ve become a more confident person using coworking spaces. I’m much more comfortable now that I know my work style, and I’m also surrounded by people who feel passionate and excited about what they’re doing too.”
What apps, gadgets, or tools can’t you live without?
I rely the most on the fioapp. It’s a widget I have on my browser where I can pull it up and check the times for different team members. We’re spread out globally, so it’s nice to know what time it is when I message someone. I also love Boomerang. I use it when I have too many emails and need to prioritize or I’ll write an email and schedule it when I know that person’s awake.
Click here to download Croissant.
Written by Stuart Hendricks