April 21, 2022

Greenhouse Coworking: Motivators and mentors

Greenhouse Coworking

By Sera Tikotikovatu-Sefeti

Fiji’s first ever fully functional coworking space, Greenhouse Coworking opened in November 2021.

It is a warm place where you are welcomed by a creative frontage, breath-taking view of the city, empowering messages on the walls, modern interior set-up and a culture of care from its staff members.

Greenhouse Coworking is a sister company to Greenhouse Studio, and its management team includes founder and director, Maria Ronna Pastorizo-Sekiguichi, managing director Karen Fong, and sales and finance manager, Miri Dinamati. Lana Smith is the community manager.

Besides offering a space and facilities for work, Greenhouse Coworking trains Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and runs regular learning sessions for its community, drawing on the team’s own experiences and learnings.

During the difficult months of COVID lockdowns and the pandemic’s ongoing economic impacts, Greenhouse Coworking adapted by developing strategies including:

  • Creating a sustainable Business Continuity Plan (BCP) that identified all risks, and courses of action for different scenarios. Elements included: How do we respond to our team, what tools will we use?
  • Creating a risk management plan and mitigation measures. While everything remained closed, the company still had bills to pay, so the idea of building a virtual community was born. 
  • The virtual community was a key revenue stream during COVID. Greenhouse hired a part-time virtual community coordinator to work on building this community. Investing in an area that was sustainable and effective when the situation demands it, was crucial.
  • Being able to adapt quickly in any given situation. 
  • Setting clear boundaries when you work at home. 
  • Keeping everyone motivated by keeping yourself motivated.’ Birthdays were celebrated virtually, online meetings enabled Greenhouse’s management team to  check on each member of the team, and care packages delivered to homes were some of the ways they kept their team engaged and energised.
  • Being flexible with decision making.
  • Communicating achievements.

During Fiji’s lockdown when everyone was working from home, open and clear communication was necessary.  “It means being honest about the struggle you are going through, if you are having a hard time, sharing it with the team is important,” Karen Fong said. “If one is having a creative block,or is overwhelmed with work, even if they need some time, they just let anyone of us know and one of us volunteers to help complete their task.”

Business Continuity Plan (BCP) 

Ronna Pastorizo-Sekiguchi says Greenhouse was using the green, orange and red traffic light system in its Business Continuity Plan even before New Zealand used it to signal COVID response levels!

A BCP helps companies prepare for an emergency or unplanned situation, and continue to operation through a crisis. Ronna said your BCP should document:

  • Your products and services
  • Equipment needs
  • Delegation of authority (e.g. bank account signatories)
  • Steps needed for responses 
  • Emergency contacts
  • Relocation options 
  • Safe storage and management of business records 

To read more about the Greenhouse Coworking story visit Islands Business.

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