- Coworking spaces need to be ready to welcome people back into an activated, engaged coworking community.
- During a recent Coworking Convo, three coworking community managers shared top tips on how to create a vibrant community within your workspace.
- Vibrant communities place people at their heart and core; operators should focus on communicating, connecting, helping people grow.
It may seem a little odd to think about building community inside your workspace, given that many spaces are sitting virtually empty as people continue to work from home.
“But we’re expecting a wave of people coming to coworking spaces,” countered Cat Johnson, a content marketer for the coworking sector. “You need to be ready to welcome people into an activated, engaged coworking community, not just a desk rental facility.”
Cat made these comments during her latest Coworking Convo, which focused on how to create a vibrant and welcoming culture in a coworking space. During the online conversation, of which 100+ participants joined, Cat invited three coworking community managers to share their insights and experiences:
- Maya Delano from NextSpace Santa Cruz
- Shervonne Cherry from Spark Baltimore and Spark Kansas City
- Garrett Tichy from Hygge Coworking
Here are three top tips from Maya, Shervonne and Garrett on how to create a vibrant community inside your space.
Maya has almost a decade of community engagement at NextSpace Santa Cruz.
“My number one important thing is staying connected to your current members,” she said, which applies both to those working from home as well as those who are coming back into the space.
“Keep them informed and communicate with them regularly. We created a weekly video chat that we call ‘Reimagining NextSpace’. Members can listen in and we talk about our latest updates, and what we’ve done to make the space safe.”
One of Maya’s members came back to the space once it reopened after lockdown, purely off the back of listening to these weekly calls, as it gave her the information she needed to head back into the workplace. “She knew about all the health and safety measures we had been implemented, which gave her confidence to come back in.”
Shervonne’s Baltimore space has been open since 2015, and Spark is planning to open a second location in Kansas City in a few weeks.
For Shervonne, it’s all about being human. “One, be a good human. Two, be a good partner.”
One of the main things that keeps their community strong is knowing what each of their members does, and how Spark can help them achieve it. “Our lifeblood is digging into the side hustle,” said Shervonne. “What’s happening with our members? I have a sensepoint of what everyone is doing, who just hired, what’s going on. We share that with our community and the local Baltimore area, which connects them with the outside space.”
This shows members that when they come to Spark, they get so much more than a place to work. They get information, resources and connections that support them and their teams.
“It’s personal too,” added Shervonne. “Our members experience good and bad times. We celebrate the good and try to lift them up during the bad. We just want to be good humans.”
It’s worth pointing out that this approach also enables community managers to be first to know when a member is on the brink of expansion, or if a team member is about to split off and create their own side hustle. This can translate into new members and additional revenue.
Hygge Coworking currently has 4 locations in North Carolina and is about to hit their 5 year anniversary. For Garrett, it’s all about helping people.
“Space isn’t that exciting. It’s who fills it that makes it exciting,” said Garrett. “I play a tiny role in seeing people grow, that is so exciting.”
One of Hygge’s big priorities is wellness. Prior to the coronavirus, Hygge was on the brink of launching a new programme called Hygge Wellness, featuring group fitness, yoga, physical therapy, among others. For now, they are running outdoor classes and plan to launch the full programme as soon as the current situation allows.
Wellness is an important part of their mission, which shines through particularly brightly during the current situation. “We were one of the first spaces to close, right on March 15th even before the state mandated it, because this felt like our responsibility,” he said.
“Those decisions were tough. We are hurting like everyone, but it’s our duty to help people. We were applauded for this decision because we showed care and attention and we saw an outpouring of support. For us, it’s about finding every way possible to help people.”
One more important way to build your coworking community is to let your own personality shine through.
“Your personality is the secret sauce to a vibrant community,” added Maya. “Your people know you and trust you. You are the reason they come back.”
The next Coworking Convo is August 28. Register here: Coworking Convo: How Can You Attract Members by Collaborating with Other Spaces?