- People use coworking spaces for various reasons and gain many different benefits.
- In Cat Johnson’s latest Coworking Convo, coworking owners around the world told stories of how their community had positively impacted members.
- From job opportunities to business mentorship, here are some of the ways coworking spaces positively impact their communities.
How can coworking spaces create community impact?
The latest Coworking Convo, held across time zones, this month centered on the topic of how a coworking community positively impacts its members.
In addition to over 100 registered coworking space operators, four guest panelists joined from around the globe, some joining in the middle of the night in order to share their stories with moderator and host, Cat Johnson.
The panel included:
The panelists each in turn described their coworking businesses and told a story or two of how their business has positively impacted members of their space.
Here are a few themes that arose:
1. Social & Professional Connection
When Kickstart opened the first coworking space in Lahore, the second largest city in Pakistan, “it felt like it was something people were waiting for,” said Saad. He also described their goal of helping their members through the chaotic and challenging parts of business, because, as he frames it, “it is not always rosy.” There were lots of heads nodding on the call while he spoke, because it was agreed that at the heart of coworking is people. Coworking communities provide a way for people to connect both socially and professionally, a critical component of our daily lives.
2. Business Creation
Many coworking spaces serve as informal business incubators for young startups and entrepreneurs in addition to their role in supporting existing businesses, remote workers, and freelancers. Mariangie highlighted a story about members of co.co.haus that were able to leverage their connection to other members to gain early customers, good product feedback, and ultimately make their project a reality, something that they have told her would not have been possible without co.co.haus.
3. Job Opportunities
It’s not just new businesses that can be formed within a coworking community, it can also be new job opportunities. Through events and interactions with the coworking community, for example, workers can find new job opportunities. For Canvas Coworking, Joy Taylor mentioned that for young people and students in particular, they are able to make connections at events that have often led to them finding their first job once they begin their search, sometimes even years later.
Each panelist highlighted the importance of fostering mentorship among members within a coworking community in order to both strengthen the community, but also to positively impact the professional lives of its members. As Clark from The Loading Dock, a certified B Corp., described it, their business exists “for the good of the greater community,” and encouraged the audience to expand the impact of their coworking business by building a bigger table.
Also discussed was how the pandemic has made it more difficult to sustain the community and its benefits when physical gathering is not an option.
Some coworking spaces have launched virtual coworking programs, for both social interaction or to support continued productivity. Another strategy has been for spaces to convert physical space into more remote-friendly work environments, including ‘Zoom rooms’ and content studios.
When the conversation opened up, several attendees asked about metrics. Specifically, how can coworking spaces measure their impact?
“It’s impossible to capture the metrics on the great conversations that happen everyday,” said Cat Johnson. However, attendees agreed that storytelling, as the panelists had done, is the most powerful way to document and communicate the impact a coworking community has on its members.
Coworking Convos is a monthly series to connect and empower space operators around the world. Through free, informal video calls, workspace operators share ideas, tips, questions and best practices.
The next Coworking Convo – Virtual Tour Strategies to Attract Members – takes place on December 18. Sign up for free here.