From specialist events and business growth seminars to socials and Happy Hours, every coworking space has its own particular way of nurturing community through events.
Even so, it’s worth taking a peek inside other spaces now and then to see how others do it. After all, coworking as a business model is founded on collaboration — and what better way to lead by example than to collaborate with other coworking operators?
As such, Allwork spoke to Sharon Bajwa, Area Manager at Spaces in Long Island City, NY — the first Spaces workplace to launch in the U.S — to learn how she runs her workspace and how events help build and maintain a happy, thriving community.
Spaces is a brand of IWG plc, which incorporates Regus, so you might expect their techniques to be notably different from an independent workspace or an out-of-town location. But at a textbook level, organizing events is a process that can be applied to any space large or small, corporate or independent. The fun part lies in finding out which type of events your members want to attend, and adding your own unique stamp to make it unique to your brand, and to make it yours.
Here’s how Sharon makes Long Island City hers:
At Spaces, how do you help your members increase productivity?
Our Community Manager aims to make everything as flexible and convenient as possible. Members can email requests or come up to the front desk if they need anything – whether it’s making a dinner reservation or assisting with setting up a printer. The design of the space is also welcoming and promotes engagement across clients.
How does your workspace lend itself to different types of events?
Every Spaces location offers an event space, which is known as our SPACES club. During the day, this is used as a coworking space and a place for clients to come out of their office and sit and have a coffee with other members. During lunchtime and in the evenings, we use the space for events. We use it for everything, including a networking event, art exhibit, pop-up shops, even a seminar on how to finance your business.
What type of event is often the most attended by members?
We see a mix of people coming to events designed to help grow their business, but also the music concerts and happy hour events where they can relax and unwind after a long week are very popular. The networking calendar provides a variety of events for each client.
How do you know these events are working for your members?
We recently had a First Friday event. It’s a community-based event to promote local artists and local startups on the first Friday of every month. Local artists of all kinds — musicians, designers, and painters — display their work while networking with Spaces’ entrepreneurial clients and various attendees. At our last event, both an artist and food vendor reached out to our Spaces client, Selffee, to partner up for future events they would be working on. This is one of the great things about Spaces — the ability to network with like-minded individuals.
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What tips or suggestions can you offer on planning and organizing events?
Know your audience. Have your members suggest things they are interested in. For instance, is there a class that they will benefit from — fitness, building your own website, professional headshots for their LinkedIn profiles? I spend every day at the center and meet and greet with our members. I get to know what people are interested in and we love to try to make it fun for them!
How do you encourage attendance?
Our Community Manager has created a wonderful environment for the center. She emails out the networking calendar at the start of every month. Every morning, she sends out a reminder email on what event we have scheduled that day and goes door-to-door to check-in on the clients and see who is interested in coming and providing more information. They also stop by the front desk if they have any questions.
Why do you believe it’s important to host workspace events on a regular basis?
Spaces is all about creating a community. When you walk in the doors you see the logos lit up on the wall with all of our current clients. When you walk the halls, the walls are all glass and members have their doors open. We ask all new members to leave their business collateral around the office to promote their business. Working and networking is especially helpful to startup companies and many of our clients. By having these events and promoting cross-pollination, it gives our clients a chance to use their workplace as a resource to help grow their business.