- Workspace operators share 10 tips on how to successfully introduce new members into your coworking community.
- Welcome packets are a helpful way to orientate new coworking members.
- Encourage new members to sit at bar height tables; it places them at eye level with others and encourages introductions.
Most approached the onboarding process from two perspectives: operational and community-building.
From an operational standpoint, a formalized overview ensures everyone gets a consistent and complete introduction to policies and procedures and nothing gets overlooked. It also reinforces impression that management is professional, organized and competent.
Some spaces keep an archive of resources in a live document to which anyone is invited to contribute. Catapult in Pittsburgh maintains a git repository for the community and the space. If members see that something needs fixing or have an idea to improve the coworking space, they’re invited to submit a ticket.
For community building, any display of support during the onboarding process helps ensure members feel like a part of the community from day one. It’s also an opportunity to express community values.
In all cases, tone is important. A more personalized approach for paperwork and signing contracts will feel less transactional and more welcoming and personal.
Some specific tips suggested include:
- Welcome packet. In addition to any documentation needed (delivered printed or digitally), include a list of favorite coffee shops, lunch spots, shops and services. Even better, include some coupons for a favorite sandwich or pizza spot, trial gym membership or similar.
Several firms take it a step further and create a branded box with coffee mug, t-shirt, pound of coffee or journal. For more inspiration, search Pinterest or visit sites such as Poppin, a purveyor of colorful office furniture and supplies with a focus on onboarding office gifts.
- Regularly scheduled monthly orientation session. As suggested in Part 1, creating a cohort helps members build early connections with fellow newbies as they learn the ropes and routines. If you schedule it for a regular day – say the second Thursday of the month at noon – current members will know when to be around to help roll out the red carpet.
- Add to group lists. Make sure you subscribe your newest members to all available platforms: member directory, bulletin board, community board, Google and Facebook groups, Slack channel.
- Shout on social media. Don’t stop the introductions at your community, give newbies a shout out via your social media channels. It will add to the welcome, and show followers on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and/or LinkedIn how active your space is.
- Spotlight Members. Take introductions a step further and give newbies an opportunity to tell their new neighbors what they do in a community-wide forum. In addition to their company and industry, include a few personal notes, such as hobbies, interests, family or unusual travel destinations visited. Send via email, post it on your blog, community board, Instagram feed, Google and Facebook groups, and Slack channel.
Investing in member promotion pays big dividends. A coworking space should be viewed as an ecosystem and cultivate a culture of collaboration and support.
- Reach out from the top. Invite new members to have coffee with the space operator or manager. Or better yet, have the manager invite the new member to work beside them for part of the day. Chances are other members will stroll in to chat at some point; seamless introductions can follow.
- Rally the troops. Involve your community, inviting members to leave their regular desk or lunch spot to sit next to a new member. And when helping members connect to the community and each other, don’t force; facilitate.
- Invite them to events. Welcome them with a personal invitation to the weekly brown bag lunch or happy hour or upcoming Lunch and Learn.
- Invite them to contribute. Ask new members to guest post on your blog. It could be a bit on their area of expertise or their 5 favorite coffee bars, favorite nearby running routes, or similar.
- Suggest top spots. Recommend they work at a high top table for the first day or two at the space. Bar height tables and stools (40 to 42 inches) put people sitting and standing at the same eye level, making casual conversations between strangers flow much more organically than those who sit and stand face to face.