Family, Friends and a Coworking ‘Tribe’: Taking Community to the Next Level

Huckletree, Shoreditch

“Our primary goal isn’t to encourage loyalty. Our plan is to design our business in a way that is rewarding for our members – and loyalty follows as a result.”

This article is part of our “we’re all about community” series.

So says Gabriela Hersham, co-founder and CEO at Huckletree. On the brink of launching their third coworking space in London, Huckletree has certainly hit upon a successful formula — but as Hersham explains, it is not about encouraging loyalty; it is a case of creating spaces in which members feel happy, productive, and choose to return again and again.

“I think that it is fundamentally difficult to encourage loyalty without designing a business that puts the end user first. Loyalty, to a product or service, is something that should come quite naturally, organically – or not,” she added.

So what is it about Huckletree spaces that members find so rewarding?

Partly, it is their service provision. Like many successful flexible workspaces, Huckletree has a team of Community Managers focused on providing day-to-day support for members.

“We often say that our community teams are the very essence of why we’ve been successful,” says Hersham.

“If I had a penny for every time someone said that they joined Huckletree because one of our team members made them feel welcome! And people stay for the same reason.

“Because when things invariably go wrong in a building, you stay because the team on-site are friendly, helpful, happy – and they add value.”

Huckletree, ShoreditchThis is evident in their member longevity.

Since launching in 2014, Huckletree is still home to its very first two members while other teams are entering their second or third years with the coworking brand.

In addition to their service structure, Hersham believes that design-led and inspirational environments add a valuable dimension to their high volume of member retention.

“Every team brings their own dynamic. When you walk into Huckletree, you are immediately hit with an energy of interesting people doing interesting things. It’s about choosing to come to a place every morning where the exciting energy and wide choice of space means you’ll be your most productive.”

Speaking of the space itself, Huckletree is home to a kaleidoscope of classrooms, indoor gardens, libraries, meeting rooms and even auditoriums. This constant air of change lends itself to a fresh, stimulating environment that’s reflected within the buzzing community operating inside its walls.

“We’re not precious about our space,” Hersham adds, explaining away the lack of confusing restrictions on who can use what, where and when, “because having this optionality is key to productivity and happiness.”

Like many operators of coworking spaces, Hersham is a firm believer in the power of community and its ability to enhance productivity and happiness. “We’re a bit of a tribe!” she adds. “We have a lot of goodwill around us – members that have become friends of ours, advisors who have become part of the community and team members who are family.”

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What’s more, this happy community frequently extends beyond its physical boundaries.

“We have members who have moved abroad but who always come back to Huckletree when they’re in London – they stay involved with the community even when they’re no longer based here, and we love that.”

Huckletree, ShoreditchSuch a cohesive community brings stability to Huckletree, thereby presenting opportunities to launch new services and expand into new locations.

In January of this year, Huckletree launched its Alpha Programme for early stage entrepreneurs and pre-seed startups; an incubator environment complete with financial help and business support.

And this summer Huckletree is preparing to build on its impressive success by opening its third coworking space. Based in West London, it will be part of the £8bn White City development alongside Soho House, Net-A-Porter, the BBC and the new Imperial College campus.

“We chose West London for our third space because there is a shortage of great places to work there compared to East,” Hersham explained. “There is no single innovation centre point, and there needs to be!”

As for the longer term, Hersham hasn’t ruled out further expansion, revealing that they plan “to continue creating exciting communities, and to keep building workspaces that surprise and delight.”

Three years on, Huckletree’s unique blueprint has been shaped by the invisible community bond between its members — and it’s playing a key role in its ongoing success. The team has hit upon a winning formula not by seeking or encouraging loyalty; but rather by creating spaces in which members feel welcome, happy and productive, thereby giving loyalty room to flourish and in turn, paving the way for more exciting opportunities along the road ahead.