Bringing together coworking space owners, advocates, community managers, and a digital nomad from around the world, Cowork University has proven to be a wonderful brain trust to share ideas and improve coworking.
This month, we discussed:
Differentiating Your Coworking Space’s Culture
Coworking Space Goals for 2018
Differentiating Your Coworking Space Through a Community’s Culture
For a coworking space’s owner, operator, or manager, the importance of culture and community are consistently brought up and on their mind. It is an important part of why we cowork after the basics of a coworking space are met. These meet ups are no different. Almost every month, a space will have questions and suggestions on developing a better community and culture.
It is hard to deny that a thriving community of people that are succeeding in business, interacting with fellow coworkers, and are generally glad to be working in a space will create a culture that keeps and attracts more members to a space. We have seen it time and time again that energy and people attract more energy and people.
However, it is important to realize that not every space wants this type of community or is actively trying to create one.
Why not then?
Building a community of people and the affected culture requires effort and deliberate action that just might not be a part of the business plan or the management’s personality or interest.
When a coworking space first starts out, it is often the time when starting with a strong community of people is less of a priority. Instead, the focus is first on filling the place and turning cash flow positive.
There are some coworking spaces that are able to start with bringing in the right target audience for their space, however, that is not always the case.
Since not everyone can or will focus on these things, an opportunity exists for all spaces to differentiate themselves through their community and culture. This creates a competitive edge, a differentiator, and helps to protect against new spaces coming into a market while also delivering upon the brand promise of coworking for members.
Coworking Space Goals for 2018
Creating a More Cohesive Community
There are many different types of people working out of coworking spaces. Some of which are only coming to the space to work or have a meeting and then leave. For this group of members and for the community as a whole, it is important to make ongoing and incremental improvements to processes, strategy, events, services, etc in order to further engage your members to help them experience the space in more ways than just a workplace.
Building a Better Process
When an owner or manager is the sole person working on building processes, it is quite easy to just keep everything in your head. Stop that. Writing it down helps create a more consistent and sustainable process so that you can get more done in your limited time while also having documentation ready when you have other people to help.
Social Policies and Procedures
There was much debate on whether this was needed, however, the general idea was putting together guidelines of how people should interact within the space and whether it was expected that they interact at all. I believe that most spaces need to have rules that help to align expectations within a coworking space for all members but also to help future members decide whether the space is the right fit for them or not.
Events Driven by Members
The best events are those that members care about and want to support. That is why member driven events are so important. Inspire and encourage members to hold events, meet ups, talks, or anything that they care about and the benefits will be significant. Often times, these events will be the most popular and well attended since they are not being forced upon a community. They are natural and organic.
Opening a 2nd or 3rd Location
Once a space gets to a certain number of members, it might be ready for more locations to continue expanding the brand and community which comes with it its own set of challenges.
Adding Additional Revenue Streams
There are an incredible number of revenue streams such as coffee shops, cafes, conference rooms, event space rentals, front desk services, and much more. As a space grows, adding more revenue streams helps to create a more financially stable organization but can also have positive impacts on the members through additional services and features.
Determining & Improving Metrics
Data and metrics are important for any business that wants to learn from past mistakes and successes in order to make better decisions for the space and its members. Whether tracking percentage of desks occupied, WiFi bandwidth used, coffees sold, event attendees, etc, it is crucial for any space to determine what metrics to track and how they affect the space. Don’t ignore the numbers. I have always found hiding from a problem not only makes it a bigger issue but also doesn’t make the problem go away.
More Purposeful Marketing & PR
Routine is great especially when putting a process in place to be more efficient. However, it is too easy to stop focusing on things you might have done in the beginning of opening or managing a space. Stay on top of ongoing marketing and PR opportunities in your communities and continue to drive people to the space on an ongoing basis. I have found marketing is far easier with a little momentum. It becomes much more difficult to start than it is to keep going.
Thanks again everyone for a wonderful discussion! Looking forward to next month.
What is Cowork University?
We are a supportive, inclusive, and inspiring community that achieves a level of collaboration designed to elevate the coworking conversation. The virtual meetup is an invitational gathering of international cowork creators and managers who got into coworking because they understand and align with the concept of “community first”. We connect on a monthly Zoom video chat and a 24/7 private Slack channel.
The only requirement to join us is that you must apply to become a member of Cowork University and be ready to fully participate.
You can also follow us on Twitter @coworkuniv