9 Ways to Build Community in a Coworking Space
The best coworking spaces have little to do with desks and wifi. They are home to thriving communities of mutually-supportive freelancers, digital nomads, remote workers, teams and independent professionals.
How do you build community in a coworking space? Prioritizing community-building and engaging with members about what they want and offer as part of a community is essential. You also put resources and events in place that facilitate and support authentic connection between members. Here are nine ways to get started.
1. Host Happy Hours
Weekly happy hours, or other recurring events, give members a casual way to connect with each other. These events require little-to-no structure, they can be done on a tight budget, and they give members a way to get to know each other and find their place in the community.
2. Create an Accountability Group
One way to create a spirit of mutual support in your coworking space is to directly enable members to support each other. Accountability groups, where members regularly meet to share what they’re working on and what they want to be held accountable for, do just that. They also empower members to work proactively on projects and ideas they may otherwise put on the backburner. Accountability groups can be informal check-ins or part of an organized system, such as Cotivation.
3. Create a Member Wall
Family photos make a house feel like a home. Member walls do the same thing in a coworking space. Put up photos of your members, with their name and business or interests. It’s an easy way to set a tone of community in your space and encourage people to connect with other members.
4. Host Fresh Networking Events
Networking events exist because professionals want to connect with each other. These events don’t have to be boring or predictable. Host networking events that shake things up. Try a speed networking event, breakfast networking, offsite networking and other fresh ideas.
5. Facilitate Group Communication
If you want your members to connect, give them ways to connect. In addition to in-person events, there are tools, including Slack, Facebook groups and email groups to connect your members online.
6. Schedule Social Events
The community that plays together, stays together. Make sure your community-building efforts include fun social events. Ask your members what they would like to do, try different ones to see what people respond to, and course-correct as you go. Some ideas to get the ball rolling: movie night, game night, open mic, group breakfast.
7. Host Professional Development Skillshares
Skillshares give members a way to share what they’re working on and potentially give their fellow members new tools and skills. Skillshares can cover anything from app development and photography tips to social media best practices, productivity, tax advice, IP issues, content marketing, and much more. Schedule regular skillshares and invite members for input on topics.
8. Introduce New Members to the Community
Being a new member in a coworking space can be a bit overwhelming. You’re suddenly surrounded by all kinds of people doing all kinds of work and aren’t sure how you fit into it all. Break the ice for new members by introducing them around during their first week or two.
9. Involve Members in Decision Making
When possible, involve the members of your coworking space in decisions that will affect them. What kind of coffee do they want? What color should we paint the bathroom? What events should the space host? These are a few examples of decisions you can involve the community in.
Cat Johnson is a writer and content strategist for the shared workspace industry. She publishes the Coworking Out Loud Newsletter and is the host of the Coworking Out Loud Podcast. Follow her on Twitter: @CatJohnson