How to Develop Community at a Coworking Space
Coworking space can be a great platform for creating an atmosphere where people can have great free time as well as spend working hours effectively. The main task for a coworking space manager is nurturing community and developing the feeling of partnership and belonging to this community among users. And this is the moment when you need a bunch of advice on how to develop strong community at a coworking space. Let’s talk more about it and how to use coworking software to support community management and develop relations inside coworking space.
What’s Going On With Coworking Space Communities Now
According to the Global Coworking Survey and the Coworking Forecast, infrastructure and the growing number of coworking spaces with innovations in them are not the only reason why coworkers choose these places. People who attend coworking spaces for work, events or negotiations with clients and partners appreciate 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 culture of the space which becomes a basing ground for a community
- Connectedness inside groups of any size
- Facilitating trust, communication and sharing
- Maximized interactions
- Strong brand which is supported by a community as well as space (and this is vitally important for a coworking space)
- Sharing experiences.
How The Practices of Strong Communities Can Be Introduced To Coworking Spaces
Your coworking space can become strong as a business unit only if it integrates in an existing entrepreneurial community which has already established in your neighborhood.
To introduce community practices to your coworking space you should start with enabling flexibility of communications. Some coworking spaces try to grow their community online via Facebook groups, pages or even separate hashtags in Instagram. A variety of chats is also used — but it can be a tough task because different people use different messengers and apps for a regular communication. Besides there is a challenge of discovering the exact people who use the services of a particular coworking space.
This is the moment when andcards Suite can help you in starting a unified communication platform for both coworking space managers and residents. With the Feed option you can introduce communication and announcements which can be seen inside an app of your coworking space. And don’t forget: the app for a coworking space can be branded as White-Label Product, so it’s a unified tool to book meeting rooms, to control membership payments and to communicate. Also the Feed can be used by the new coworking space members to introduce themselves so that new faces are immediately welcomed by all who are residents of your space.
Another feature which can be used is Directory in andcards Suite. It can help managers of your coworking space in discovering and managing coworking space customers in one place. You can view all individuals and team accounts in Excel-like table. This feature allows tracking membership plans, payments, and booking history of each customer as well as send messages to them.
Both these tools can be used to nurture the community via constant communication and organizing events or making announcements as well as preparing ground for moving online interactions to offline meetings and shared events. And as we’ve mentioned above, shared culture is vitally important for a strong community. Let’s find out how this can be performed — and why your coworking space manager should become a community concierge as well.
Prepare Your Coworking Manager To Be A Community Concierge
After introducing online tools for communication you should consider making your coworking space manager a coworking concierge. In a well-managed space like yours such people are usually the first touch-point for the newly coming customers. Concierge should willingly give a prospect customer a tour of the whole place as well as introduce newly residents to other people in this coworking space.
But remember: becoming a new member in a coworking space can be a bit overwhelming event. So that’s the main reason why your coworking space manager also should be ready to answer all kinds of questions which the users have — even if these questions seem awkward or funny. From issues with the air-conditioner to some misunderstanding between newbies and old-timers — community concierge is the person who deals with all kinds of such situations.
How To Use Content As A Part Of Community Management For A Coworking Space
A blog or a monthly newsletter can also become a good start to nurture communication inside a coworking space. You can provide direct invites for certain coworking space members taking into consideration their opinions and interests.
You can boost you own creativity while writing such newsletters and blogs for your coworking space residents. You should also remember that the main objective behind newsletters and blogs is breaking the ice between newly coming members and old-timers by showing vast opportunities and topics for different groups of people.
Don’t forget to include in your blog posts or email campaigns such topics like discussing certain matters of entrepreneurship, creative industries or making interviews with creative persons and coworking space residents.
You can also use email newsletter to announce events in your coworking space as well as perform it directly via Feed option in andcards Suite app. Let’s talk in details why networking events in your coworking space can be a useful boosting tool to develop local community.
Why You Should Host Networking Events In Your Coworking Space
Your coworking space is not only the place for instant working 24/7 (or 12/7). It’s also a place for exchanging creativity, ideas and spreading culture of cooperation and inventing new things as well as introducing new practices which can be used by different freelancers and entrepreneurs.
That’s the main reason why networking events should be held in your coworking space. Such events can become an opportunity for different professionals in the coworking space to learn and grow, to boost profit and establish new connections within the community.
Members of coworking spaces also can become speakers or co-hosts of such events — and as you know, participation in common initiatives works great for developing a stronger community.
What Kind Of Coworking Events Can Be Organized For Coworking Space Members?
- Happy Hours: Though this kind of events is considered to belong more to a corporate culture, they can be held in coworking spaces as well. Try welcoming members to end their work day with a glass of wine or some non-alcohol beverage. Happy hours can also be the moment for some discounts organized by partners of your coworking space (stores, gas stations, taxi services etc.) andcards Suite can help you with that via native mobile app: in the Benefits section you can establish a set of weekly or monthly benefits from partners of your coworking space.
- Lunch-and-Learns: It’s a useful kind of events when during a lunch break people can have a meeting of a book club, some kind of creative session or social impact activities like a master-class of charity event. Experts for a short-time session can also be invited for a “lunch with a profi”.
- Purposeful Networking Events: Don’t forget to curate the audience — and that’s the reason not to invite everyone but to select which kind of events should be interesting for designers, copywriters or developers.
- Purposeful 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 host for a short trips on weekends or on Fridays. A group of coworking space members can travel for a short break from office activities, tasks, charts and tough schedule.
- Family Day / Pets Day: You can establish day of the week or month when you can take younger family members (kids, younger brothers or sisters) to the coworking space as well as establish the same day for welcoming cats, dogs or even beavers (if anyone have any) in your coworking space. 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 now an event but rather a tradition for a newly coming members of a community in your coworking space. Such a wall can become a place to put photos of family members, pets, colleagues or some cards from vacations — everything what engages people into conversation and having more reasons to talk to each other.
What You Can Do To Keep The Original Spirit And Stimulate People Giving Back To The Community
The main risk for a coworking space owner or manager is keeping alive the original spirit of collaboration and community openness while your 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 high level of giving positive feedback and notice possible problems. It’s a vital source for preventing lack of personal communication inside your own coworking space team.
- Consider your community in a coworking space as a unit existing inside of a larger community of businesses, entrepreneurs, activists, startup team members etc.
- Score your impact on the local community and solving its needs. Engage with the rest of the local community while providing new events and announcing new opportunities for both residents and nonresidents of your coworking space.
- Provide membership benefits, extra credits for payment working hours or bonus membership cards for those residents of your coworking space who actively participate in some activities, donations and events which are held by your coworking space or supported by it. Social impact can become a source of mutual profit in this case.