March 14 is Pi day. Remember that magical symbol that you studied at school?
To refresh your memory, it is a number with an infinite sequence of decimal places, defined as the ratio between the circumference of a circle and its diameter.
What has this got in to do with our Silversquare community? From an initial square metre, from which our Silversquare entrepreneurs are propelled on their entrepreneurial journey, to a circle that shares and inspires, Cédric Meuris is leading the way. In this instance, we could nickname him ‘Mr. Pi’... It is his job to gather complementary or contrasting profiles, creating an alchemy unique to our communal circle.
Circle or square?
Cédric: Silversquare’s promise goes beyond providing a simple workspace. These originally-decorated and well-located ‘square metres’ provide optimal infrastructure and logistics for its members, as well as a vibrant social circle. Founders Axel and Alex have always sought to breathe life into this ‘virtuous circle’, valuing certain profiles and talents over others, generating a spirit of benevolence.
In all honesty, the Square2Circle initiative was born out of the current crisis, with the new health measures serving to undermine our goal of helping members connect. However, this has equally proved beneficial, as the new concept will remain one of our top priorities for years to come.
Is it a theoretical or a practical initiative?
Cédric: We started by organising Zoom meetings, gathering a sense of everyone’s needs to help us better understand how to best foster connections between our members during this time of crisis. There were some inspiring stories: after a conversation by the office coffee machine, a lawyer became aware of a co-worker’s legal struggles during the first lockdown. He offered the services of one of his colleagues for half a day every week over two months for free to help them overcome this.
Another example: Team4job (a mentoring association helping job seekers to find work) chose a mentor at Silversquare. Their mentee will now go on to find work with another SQ co-worker. Thus, the circle is complete!
A third example: A group of co-workers at SQ Bailli pooled their resources (legal and financial expertise) with the view of providing free assistance to any co-workers in need. A kind of business ‘repair café’!
At a time when COVID-19 is forcing us to forego traditional fruit baskets, how have we gone about fostering such links?
Cédric: Firstly, our offices have remained open. We are therefore still able to meet around the coffee machine (albeit wearing masks) and, increasingly, outside in some of our centres’ gardens due to the finer weather. Secondly, we have developed a powerful app containing a member directory which also serves as a communication platform. Here, members can post their activity and share their news with one another. It is a powerful tool. One would have to pay dearly via networking clubs to have access to something like this!
Finally, our SQ teams have been fully committed to facilitating connections between our communities’ members, acting as a social catalyst throughout.
What is your recipe for success?
Cédric: Get inspired, open your eyes and ears, and make yourself available.
My role is not to ‘do’, but to inspire. While I may lay the foundations, these need to be built upon. This is where our circle, our community, comes in.
Although I am facilitating and smoothing out the process, it is our members who keep things moving. It is they who create this alchemy.
Have you encountered any difficulties?
Cédric: I believe in the proverb ‘you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink’. So yes, it can sometimes prove difficult (he laughs). I am here to lead the way, but I cannot force things.
What are the next steps?
Cédric: As soon as the current restrictions are eased, we should be able to resume our Meet Your Neighbours breakfasts, our Lunch&Learns, face-to-face conferences, after-work socials, etc. Until then, the circle lives on, we continue to put forward a model for the future, we continue to innovate, and we continue to meet our members’ needs!
The faster the square rotates, the more it looks like a circle! It rolls on!!! Pi’s infinite number of decimals, its infinite number of possible combinations: these symbolise the rich diversity of our great community, which itself now holds more than 2,500 members!
For me, the SQ community is essentially like a grand buffet table. Everyone can bring a wealth of riches to the table, and anyone can partake in what others have brought.
Interview: Muriel Van Severen, SQ Louise.
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