How to Develop and Enhance the Community at the Coworking Space
Coworking space can and must be a great platform for creating an atmosphere where people have wonderful leisure time as well as spend working hours effectively. I believe every coworking space owner will agree that the main objective for a manager is nurturing community and developing the feeling of partnership and belonging to this community among users.
It's a known fact that people come to your space not because you have a chair and a desk for them. They want to join their tribe of like-minded people in order not to be alone, to learn and discuss new things, to chat during the coffee-breaks, in a word to live a happier life.
We at andcards are the evangelists of building active coworking communities as this is the only way for coworking business to thrive, grow, and increase revenue. Coworkings that are focused on best members UX make the smartest bet. Experience is what people are ready to pay for and come back for.
55% of consumers would pay more for better customer experience.
89% of people would stop doing business with a company because of a poor experience.
In this article, I am going to reveal a bunch of advice on how to develop a strong community at a coworking space. By the way, is your coworking space management software helpful in terms of primary-community building needs? I guess after this blog post you will require more from your app :-)
The Global Coworking Survey and the Coworking Forecast prove the above statements. Infrastructure and the growing number of coworking spaces with various attractive innovations in them are not the only reason why freelancers choose these places.
People who attend coworking spaces for work, events or negotiations with clients and partners value the feeling of being a part of the larger group, being a member of a creative community. Among other factors experts like Ravi Kaneriya, Head of Asia, Social Engagement Team, World Economic Forum Geneva points out the necessity to create new social bonds and stimulate creativity within groups.
Strong communities stay the main source of support for both professional and personal development as well as nurturing collaboration and new projects. According to the World Economic Forum blog, strong communities are based on a number of components:
- Common values and shared purpose.
- Rituals and shared culture / behavior code.
- Storytelling to reinforce the culture of the space which becomes an abasing ground for a community.
- Connectedness inside groups of any size.
- Facilitating trust, communication, and sharing.
- Maximized interactions.
- A strong brand that is supported by a community as well as space (and this is vitally important for a coworking space).
- Sharing experiences.
Your coworking space can become a strong business by integrating into an existing entrepreneurial community established in your neighborhood.
I recommend you to start introducing community practices to your coworking space by enabling flexibility of communications. Some coworking spaces try to grow & communicate with their community online via Facebook groups, pages or even separate hashtags on Instagram.
They also use a variety of chats. Are you satisfied with the solutions social media provides? Not really because different people prefer different messengers and apps for regular communication. Besides, there is a challenge of discovering the exact people who use the services of a particular coworking space.
What's more, all those popular socials and chats don't facilitate your branding. You can't, say, replace their logo with your own, which harms your corporate image.
andcards can help you start a unified communication platform for both coworking space managers and residents. With cool Stream integration you can introduce communication and announcements which can be seen inside an app of your coworking space.
Stream enables members to:
- Share status updates in real time.
- Attach photos to posts.
- React to posts.
- Receive push notifications for new posts.
If you opt for a white-label andcards option, this newsfeed and communication tool will have your logo and function inside the app. Stream can be used by the new coworking space members to introduce themselves so that new faces are immediately welcomed by all residents. You can inform members about interesting events, changes, and other essentials via your own branded messenger.
To activate Stream you only need to register on GetStream.io. Our friendly technical support managers will take care of all the rest.
andcards Community is another feature that can be used by community managers to keep all members' details in one place. You can view all individuals and team accounts in a clean table. This feature allows tracking membership plans, payments, and booking history of each customer and sending them quick messages.
Both tools can be used to nurture the community via constant communication and organizing events or making announcements as well as preparing the ground for moving online interactions to offline meetings and shared events. And as I’ve mentioned above, shared culture is vitally important for a strong community. Let’s find out how this can be implemented and why your coworking space manager should become a community concierge.
After introducing online tools for communication you should consider training your coworking space manager as coworking concierge. In a well-managed space like yours, such people are usually the first touch-point for the newcomers. A concierge should willingly give a prospective customer a tour of the whole place as well as introduce new residents to their peers.
A community manager must be a problem solver. For some entrepreneurs, the onboarding process can be an overwhelming event. So, a coworking space manager must be ready to answer all kinds of questions the users might have, even if these questions seem awkward or funny. A manager must quickly resolve any issue, from troubles with the air-conditioner to minor misunderstandings between newbies and mature residents. A community concierge is a person who deals with all kinds of such situations.
Your corporate coworking space blog or a monthly newsletter can also become a good start to nurture communication inside a coworking space. You can send direct invites to certain coworking space members taking into consideration their opinions and interests.
Be creative while writing such newsletters and blog posts for your coworking space residents. Remember that the main objective behind newsletters and blog articles is breaking the ice between newly coming members and loyal tenants by showing vast opportunities for networking and topics for discussions.
Include in your publication plan topics highlighting certain matters of
- creative industries,
- interviews with industry influencers and coworking space residents.
Use an email newsletter to announce events in your coworking space. You can even send it directly via Stream in andcards app.
Now let’s see why networking events carried out in your coworking space can be a useful tool to develop the local community.
Your 24/7 coworking hub is a place for exchanging creativity, ideas and spreading the culture of cooperation and inventing new things as well as introducing new practices that can be used by freelancers and entrepreneurs.
Networking events at your space give an opportunity to field professionals to learn and grow, to boost profit and establish new connections within the community.
Encourage your members to become speakers or co-hosts of such events as participation in common initiatives works great for developing a stronger community.
- Happy Hours. Though this sort of events is considered to belong to corporate culture, they can be held in coworking spaces as well. For instance, you can offer members to end their workday with a glass of wine or some non-alcohol beverage. Happy hours can also be about some discounts organized by partners of your coworking space (stores, gas stations, taxi services, etc.) andcards can help members take their advantage of your programs via the native mobile app. You can establish a set of weekly or monthly benefits from partners of your coworking space in the Benefits section.
- Lunch-and-Learns. A useful type of events when during lunch break members can have a meeting of a book club, some kind of creative session or social impact activities like a master-class of a charity event. You can invite experts for a short-time session — “lunch with a profi”.
- Targeted Networking Events. Don’t forget to curate the audience. Don't just send bulk invites, match the events and members' interests — design, copywriting, web development.
- Interaction Breaks. Don’t forget providing classic board games in coworking spaces in the rest-and-events zone. These games can become a great opportunity for encouraging interaction between coworking space residents.
- Day Trips. Your coworking space managers also can become guides for short trips on weekends or Fridays. They can take a group of coworking space members for a themed trip and help them take a respite from office activities, tasks, charts, and tough schedule.
- Family Day / Pets Day. You can establish a day of the week or a month in a year when members can take family members (kids, younger brothers or sisters) to the coworking space with them. You can also announce a day when your space is welcoming cats, dogs or even beavers (if anyone has them.) An outdoor activity for such a day can be a good solution (especially if you have some kind of open-space zone or a barbeque zone outdoors).
- Establishing Members Wall. It’s rather a tradition for newly coming members. Such a wall can become a place to put photos of family members, pets, colleagues or some cards from vacations — everything that involves people into the conversation and gives more reasons to talk to each other.
The main challenge for a coworking space owner or manager is keeping up the original spirit of collaboration and community openness while the coworking space grows and scales up. Besides it’s necessary to develop a culture of participation and ability to give back to the community on a daily basis. What can you do to achieve that? There is a number of ways:
- Review regularly not only infrastructure and opportunities to work and to communicate inside a coworking space, but also the soft skills of coworking space managers. You should check up their ability to keep a high level of giving positive feedback and notice possible problems. It’s a vital source for preventing a lack of personal communication inside your coworking space team.
- Think of your community in a coworking space as a unit existing inside of a larger community of businesses, entrepreneurs, activists, startup team members, etc.
- Increase your impact on the local community solving their needs. Engage with the rest of the local community running your events and announcing new opportunities for both residents and non-residents of your coworking space.
- Provide membership benefits, extra credits to pay for space or bonus membership cards for those residents of your coworking space who actively participate in some activities, donations, and events that are held by your coworking space or supported by it. Social impact can become a source of mutual profit in this case.
Do you agree that coworking community spirit is something new members come for and existing members stay loyal to? What events are loved by your members the most? How does your coworking management app cater to your community-building needs?
Please share your tips, tricks, and advice in the comments. Liked some of my insights? Share this article with your friends.