We had the opportunity to conduct an exclusive interview with Melissa Mesku, Founding Editor of New Worker Magazine. As an advocate...
As a coworking manager you may ask yourself, how can I make my clients feel welcome regardless of how long they stay? How can I build a community in my coworking space that embraces and showcases how diverse my community really is?
Last time we talked about creating a coffee shop culture and that brings us to our next, and third (third time’s a charm) Coworking Manager’s Guide to… building a community.
So where do you even start?
These aren’t people who create animated images of communities (though we’ve met some fabulous animators throughout our journey). These are people who are focused on understanding their members needs.
They enjoy meeting new people and getting to know them. They’re the people that have a whole lot of WOO (winning others over). They are often the first person a member meets when they enter your space, but their role is more than just a receptionist. They act as a host, giving new visitors a tour of the space and introducing them to other members. They are also there to deal with situations when they get out of hand, but of course, that never happens in your space.
They prepare meeting rooms to be spick-and-span, help to organize events, and make sure the coffee is ready for members to enjoy (very, very important). They’re the go-to person for any questions members have about the space or even the area around the coworking space – best place to go for drinks, to grab lunch, or perhaps a nearby park to enjoy some fresh air. They’re also there to help bring in new ideas on how to engage members, and increase efficiency.
If your venue has the space for it, games like foosball or ping pong are great collaborative games. Some offices even have had success with creating a small ball pit in their space, giving clients the opportunity to unwind and play with something from their childhood.
Why not set up a happy hour in your office once a week or so? Four o’clock is often a good time for this. It means people don’t have to stay late if they don’t want to, and if they were planning on staying later, provides a perfect break time.
If you’re feeling really creative, or for a change of pace, you could invite a drink specialist in – a wine, scotch, beer, or other spirits expert, to give a tasting. Martini Hour anyone? Who knows, maybe one of your members took a bartending course and knows how to mix a mean Tom Collins.
There’s are many events that you can host, both in your space and out. However, you’re a busy person, and event planning can seem like this giant monster… but it doesn’t have to be.
One option is to host an event with guest speakers. They can be connections you have from outside your coworking space, or perhaps some of your community members have something they would like to present. Why not create an evening once or twice a month where speakers have 20-30 minutes to talk about something they’re passionate about? You can invite people from outside your coworking space to attend as well… and you may even be able to get Obama as a guest speaker.
Setting up a community newsletter or blog allows you to spread the word about who’s who and invites members to share something about themselves. Maybe you want to try something like our Future of Work blog series and interview some members about what they’re passionate about. Or create something a little off beat that asks the big questions like: What’s your favourite dinosaur? Or if you could travel back in time what century would you visit, and where?
To leave you with a few words of parting advice, communities can take time to build. Don’t distress if it’s slow going at first. Sometimes all you need is just a few people to get passionate and excited about building a community to get others to join.
There’s also many other things you can do that we haven’t had a chance to mention in this guide. Do you have effective tactics that have worked to help create a sense of community in your coworking space? Retweet this blog and share your advice!