Community of Cultivators: Edition 67 – Abigail Schilling, Coworking Space Expert

By Stormy McBride On May 9, 2024 In Community Cultivators Blog Series

Here at GCUC we are immensely fortunate to cross paths and work with so many amazing people. Through coworking, we’ve cultivated a global community of people we think you should know about.

Community of Cultivators is a blog series we created to introduce you to coworking game changers and connectors. Each month, we’ll release new interviews that we hope will inform and inspire you.

This week’s interview comes at you from Medford Oregon. Abigail Schilling is a seasoned coworking space expert — and your personal competitive advantage as you build and grow your own space. With over twenty years in leadership with expertise in business and marketing, and as the owner/operator of three coworking spaces in Oregon, she saw firsthand the struggles facing coworking space operators.

Abigail founded Space Savvy Studio, a coworking operations agency offering services like administrative support, marketing, and custom tech solutions, focusing on improving operations and member experiences in coworking spaces.

To get to know her better, keep reading.

Abigail Schilling, a Coworking Space ExpertWhere do you personally feel the most sense of community?

I feel the strongest sense of community in a group chat with my best friends. We have our own language made up of inside jokes that started as typos but stuck around because they made us laugh. It’s not about sharing memes or political gossip, it’s more personal than that. It’s about sharing daily highs and lows, asking the hard questions and helping each other, and always knowing there’s a place where I’m completely understood… even with my typos.

What is the best habit you ever started?

The best habit I ever picked up was setting up focus modes and timers on my phone. It’s a simple change, but it’s made a huge difference.

It helps me keep my screen time in check and reminds me not to let technology run my life. Setting these boundaries means I’m more aware of how and when I use my devices, which helps me prioritize my day better and cuts down on the stress of feeling constantly connected. Plus, it’s just nice to feel like I’m in charge of my tech, not the other way around. Hit those snoozies!!

What habit do you want to start but haven’t yet?

  • A forever list.
  • Showering on a regular basis.
  • Stretching in the morning.
  • Daily yoga.

What is the most expensive mistake you’ve ever made?

The most expensive mistake I’ve ever made was deciding to open a third coworking space location, Ashland Works, in a nearby town. I made this choice based on data and information that predicted success… but success was never realized. The market in that location wasn’t as robust as we had anticipated.

It was hard to run an underperforming business, and hard to bleed money, and really hard to make the decision to close. And, I’m still paying off the debt from that location. However, it wasn’t all bad. During that challenging time, we developed some really effective systems and processes. Our team became much more efficient, learning to do more with less.

Ultimately, we decided to close the third location and refocus on our two original ones, which are doing great! Despite the financial setback, the experience taught me invaluable lessons about cautious expansion and operational efficiency that continue to benefit our business.

What’s a piece of advice for everyone who works for and with you?

Creating work-life balance as an operator changed my life, and after years of flirting with burnout, I was passionate about creating systems and processes that would help other operators to find their own version of work-life balance. (And it’s not easy – I run two companies now!)

For our team at Space Savvy Studio we have our “pillars for success” and these are the foundation of how we operate every day: boundaries and self-advocacy, collaboration, prioritization, self-management, and project management.

By sticking to these principles, we ensure that our company runs smoothly. This alignment allows everyone to be more proactive rather than reactive, helping to minimize surprises and stress. It also supports a predictable and supportive work environment where everyone knows what is expected and how they can succeed – no surprises.

Prioritizing these values helps us all to not just plan our work lives but also to better integrate and balance our personal lives. It creates a culture where people feel valued and supported, which in turn drives productivity and satisfaction.

What in your life are you most proud of cultivating or creating? Why?

I’m incredibly proud of the community I’ve cultivated at Medford Cowork Collective, especially considering our weird rural town. It’s a unique space for interesting people to come together.

I’m proud of creating work opportunities for people who fall outside the traditional view of coworking front line work. In our team of hospitality hosts we have a 70 year old grandma, and a host placed with us through Living Opportunities, a local org that supports job-creation for adults with intellectual or developmental disabilities.

And that’s what makes our community stand out. The diversity and uniqueness of the people who are part of it. Everyone brings something different to the table—different skills, perspectives, and experiences—yet there’s a common thread of respect, enthusiasm and collaboration.

Seeing daily interactions, new collaborations forming, and people genuinely enjoying being part of the community is deeply fulfilling. It’s something I feel privileged to have played a part in creating.

If you like what you have read, connect with Abigail inside of the GCUC Community or on Linkedin. For more community of cultivators interviews, click here. We drop a new interview monthly.