4 Actionable Ways to Increase Community in Your Coworking Space
One of the biggest challenges for coworking spaces is creating an environment that fosters community. Community has become a buzz term as it’s used by so many to market their coworking spaces but what does community really mean? Allwork.space defines community as a space that gives its members access to 'networking, new contacts, potential clients and potential projects'. That means in a coworking space that has a sense of community, the coworking members get access to these things as a direct result of joining the coworking space.
You may not have any experience in building community in your coworking space but that's okay. We'll go over four actionable ways to increase that sense of community: discussion forums, check-ins, scheduled breaks and member feedback.
Suggest Discussion Topics
An effective way to encourage members to interact is by suggesting discussion topics between them. Offering an engaging discussion topic breaks that initial ice so people can start talking with one another. If you don't provide a forum for members to share their thoughts, people may have lots to say about a topic but nowhere to share it. Start an open conversation with questions or discussion points. Encouraging interaction is one of the most effective ways to build a community.
It's best not to be too opinionated when suggesting discussion topics because it limits the possibilities for members who may want to explore different aspects of a subject. Instead, try asking questions that will get people thinking. This gives them a chance to voice their opinions and draw connections between things they may never have considered before. Consider posting polls, as polls are great for generating ideas and getting people talking.
Check-ins are a popular activity in office spaces across the nation. This is a simple way to see who's around and connect with them, but it has a much larger impact on the community as well.
Check-ins create a sense of community and help people step outside of their comfort zone to meet others. It also can foster productivity. When you know you have to check in, you're more likely to stay focused and work on a project instead of getting distracted by social media or other tasks that don't move you towards your goals.
Check-ins can help instill this sense of community by fostering meetings between coworking members who wouldn't normally speak to one another.
You can use check-ins as an opportunity to ask how someone's day is going as these small conversations help build relationships. Check-ins also provide an opportunity for someone working alone to talk to someone and get some perspective on their day-to-day tasks and long-term projects.
Scheduling breaks is a great way to incorporate social time into your coworking space. You can create scheduled break times where people can play a game or chat. This encourages people to engage with one another.
The truth is most people want to be more social, but don't know how to make it happen.
Most people think that structuring time for breaks and play is a luxury reserved for those with a lot of free time in their schedule. But, in reality, carving out time in your schedule for the community each day is one of the most effective ways to boost performance.
These micro-breaks can help bring energy back into your day, connect with others and in some cases innovate as you come back to your work with a clear mind.
Another way to foster community is to allow members to have a say in decisions that affect them.
People are most likely to participate in your community if they have been asked what they think and have been involved in making critical decisions.
Also, provide multiple ways for people to share their input. Not everyone is good at speaking up in a group, so tell them exactly how they can share their ideas and give feedback outside of speaking in a large group. For example, do you have a suggestion box? Do you have an online forum where members can pose questions and vote on topics? If so, make sure your all of your members know about it!
Give them a chance to shape things. Instead of offering shallow perks, create opportunities for members to provide meaningful input into how the community operates.
When people are involved in the decision-making process, they are more invested in the outcome. People that feel invested will ultimately stay longer.
The community feel is the key to your coworking business. When members feel that they are part of something special, they become loyal to your community. Loyal members are members that will renew their coworking space membership.
The truth is you can't force your members to interact, but you can create opportunities for them to do so. The more effort you put in, the better your results will be.