Business trends are evolving, especially after COVID-19. So what role does a coworking community play for business growth? Read below.
There can be no coworking space without a coworking community. A successful coworking space offers more than just an attractive selection of amenities, good rates, and a snazzy ambiance. Coworking spaces are defined by the people who decide to work in them, the connections fostered by those people, and the professional relationships that come to be.
It is in every coworking space’s interest to enable and foster those relationships and grow a true sense of community. This is especially important during COVID-19, where a true feeling of community can be hard to find.
What Defines a Coworking Community?
A coworking community is the social connective tissue within the coworking space – aside from the tenants, it’s the administrators, the designers, the managers, the rest of the staff, and the tools they use to create and maintain a feeling of connectedness throughout the working day.
From the creative opportunities enabled by a good coffee bar to the way a coworking space can continue to endure and exist online, the development and nurturing of a coworking community is as important for the marketing of a coworking space as it is for the wellbeing and creativity of those in it.
Coworking spaces are more than just square footage of office available for a short-term lease. Every month spent at a coworking space is another month spent collaborating and networking with professionals in different industries from different backgrounds, while reaping the benefits of a creative culture and brand identity that changes from space to space.
How is Coworking Surviving the Pandemic?
Businesses banked on the work-from-home model during the pandemic, to cut down on interpersonal contact and reduce the transmission of the coronavirus. Yet as more and more countries approach a critical level of immunization, large parts of the world are looking towards better alternatives to the home office without a complete return to the cluttered, densified closed offices of the past.
The modern workspace is flexible, open to the outdoors on good weather, with isolated private rooms, well-ventilated common areas, sparse seating, and roving cleaning crews.
Many coworking spaces have taken on drastic hygiene protocols to enable safe business and provide a professional refuge to employees who were unable to get anything done from home, and either needed a more suitable environment to get their work done, or just wanted some sense of being back in an office environment, even with social distancing and frequent handwashing.
Coworking spaces are an attractive alternative because they are:
- Decentralizing large corporate offices.
- Providing flexible pricing models for both SMEs and large corporations in a tumultuous economy.
- Focused primarily on attracting tech talent.
- Existing in a diverse and competitive market.
Coworking spaces have more than just survived COVID – they have proven to be a valuable resource in the process of defining a post-pandemic workplace model.
Growing a Coworking Community in 2021
Community building is important in drawing in tenants, helping employees relate to one another, and create a productive social environment. And because we aren’t in a post-pandemic world yet, safety remains paramount.
If a coworking space is simply hosting workers while providing them with nothing but isolated spaces and plastic covers on chairs, it is little more than an office center. The benefits of coworking come from a highly social environment and finding ways to enable that sense of community without endangering the members of the community is each coworking space’s greatest challenge in 2021.
Prioritizing the Workspace Experience
What is your coworking space all about? What are you offering to facilitate productive collaboration and safe social experiences? Also, what do you offer in amenities beyond the raw basics of a fully equipped modern workplace?
Coworking spaces compete for the affections of their tenants through qualitative amenities and a management staff that prides itself on running a tight ship. This means:
- nap rooms
- drinks and snacks
- dedicated meeting spots
- private concentration rooms
- outdoor spaces
- plenty of natural light
- non-distracting plant life
- art that helps define the workspace culture
- a consistent design theme and brand identity
- a prime location
Does Your Coworking Community Facilitate Open Communication?
There can be no community without communication. Make sure there are multiple accessible channels to communicate concerns and ideas with management and other staff, send in complaints or reviews, make suggestions, and keep the community up to date on management decisions, upcoming changes, and more.
This can be done through open chatrooms like Slack, space-specific to-do boards on Trello, a community manager account on Twitter and Facebook, a proprietary app for the coworking space, a mobile-friendly website with a blog and live chat function, and multiple other online avenues.
Create an Online Coworking Community for Your Space
Aside from basic interfacing, you can create and nurture an online community in the absence of community events and experiences, to help foster a sense of social interactivity and belonging in our pandemic world.
You can host opt-in virtual events such as game night via Zoom or on the premises, monthly introductory meetings to help newcomers feel welcome and get a sense for who’s who, and more.
Coworking spaces may fulfill a crucial role in the current climate as interactive workplace communities for those unable or unwilling to return to a typical office setting, either because of the lengthy commute, a lack of space, or the financial impact of the pandemic.
While some of us were immensely grateful for the opportunity to fully embrace the home office lifestyle, not everyone is set up or cut out for working from home. There are distinct disadvantages to being a completely self-reliant worker, and some struggle under the isolation and loneliness it breeds, while others have no space bereft from distraction due to their own personal circumstances.
Even a post-pandemic world is more likely to see a move towards work-from-anywhere policies than a move back to company headquarters.
Some employees thrive and are most productive while working from home, while others need the camaraderie of working with the rest of the team, and others yet like to collaborate with different professionals and soak in the professional-casual atmosphere of a coworking space, a happy medium.
Companies keen on maximizing the potential of their hires will want to offer multiple options to ensure that everyone doing their part can do so as effectively as possible.