Cubicles and a private office used to be something people aimed for and earned through hard work. However, cubicle life has lost its extreme professional appeal as companies move to co-working spaces that focus more on life beyond the cubicle.
A good coworking space will provide an intellectually stimulating environment but some of the best coworking spaces are equally adept at creating vibrant communities with a sense of shared sense of belonging.
Just like an effective company culture results in increased employee involvement, productivity, and loyalty, the feeling of belonging at a coworking space encourages collaboration and collective growth. It also helps reassure the support of a community that understands and relates to your challenges and pains and is equally involved in celebrating your little wins.
But building a community of individuals that, despite their uniqueness, celebrate a shared culture is easier said than done. We decided to dive headfirst into the most common ways to building a happy and ever-growing community.
Carefully curate membership
A little clarity on the kind of community you wish to build can go a long way. Targeting the right audience and bringing them to your workspace is one of the easiest ways to build a community; they bring the culture you are hoping to curate with them making it easier for you to build on it.
We know how difficult it can be to say no to potential revenue when you are nowhere close to optimum capacity but bringing in the wrong kind of people can result in regular turnover and failure to build the community you wish for.
Like in any religion or nation, there are certain rituals that exist through centuries and people often keep the tradition alive by participating wholly through the entire ritual with the sole intention to stay connected to their roots and revive their sense of belonging to their community members.
All the sentiment mentioned above can be translated and inculcated into community-building efforts at coworking spaces too.
Create certain rituals or traditions that stick, and stick for long. Rituals that revolve around food, for example, almost never fail. Office lunches, breakfasts, after-hours refreshments, etc. can be examples of such rituals.
As a coworking space operator, you could have a ritual around celebrating new members or unwinding at the end of a week. Before COVID hit, we would celebrate each new member at a monthly breakfast at The Hive, for instance. It was a great way for people to connect with new members and for us to celebrate an addition to our growing community. Hopefully, we will be able to bring these breakfasts back as soon as COVID subsides.
Add thought to every interaction with your members
You ideally want to create a self-sustaining community - one that cherishes and values being a part of it as much as you love curating it.
This requires working on one of the hardest yet simplest acts of community building: knowing the people. The job of our Community Associates at The Hive significantly revolves around interacting with our residents and understanding their needs and challenges.
It's a great way to ensure that our time efforts and finances are spent on creating interactions that people value. When you know their interests, automatically there is a conscious effort to build upon these interests and solve pain points as frequently as possible instead of going with your gut. It's best to interact and understand what your people need, want, and love.
Once you understand your members, you can create interactions that would bring a smile to their faces and turn them into true collaborators.
Celebrate 'Star Members'
There will always be some members that are a perfect embodiment of the culture you wish to build. Remember to celebrate them - in your newsletter or on a wall of fame or through a shout-out on your social media. The channel doesn't matter as long as they feel valued and inspire others to be the same.
Take a trip outside the workspace
As much as we'd like to advocate for a coworking space being the solution to all problems, sometimes a change of environment is necessary to break free from the formality of a workplace and connect with colleagues and coworkers at a personal level.
Day trips can be a great way for members to bond. This may not be a practical solution for everyone given budget or infrastructure constraints but trips could vary from a visit to a nearby tourist destination to spending some time at a neighborhood coffee shop. If taking out larger groups isn't possible, you could think about dividing your members into groups over a few days. Regardless of how big or small, fancy or simple the arrangement, movement beyond the office walls can be a refresher for the people that work with you.
A community doesn't have to be a group of people who all think, feel, and look the same. In fact, it is advisable to foster diversity in your community’s culture and make sure it's looked after with inclusive bonding activities that involve the entire diverse clan of people living under your roof. Having a colony of diverse people, as it is, amounts to a certain degree of excitement and engagement beyond personal cubicles and desks. A mix of cultures, genders, and mindsets brings several points of view to the table. Hopefully, your table builds a healthy narrative with a blend of people.
Just as every company has its own culture, coworking spaces are never identical to each other. Before you move into a coworking space, make sure you know their tribe and are certain you want to be a part of it.