If you have an amazing coworking space and community, count yourself lucky.
Your space operator has poured their heart, soul and resources into creating a workspace that works for you. But one of the most important jobs in creating a great coworking space falls on the members.
In my experience, the best spaces have members who are active and engaged in creating a community and space they want to be part of. Rather than just being users who rent space, engaged members find ways to make a space their own.
I consider myself fortunate to be a longtime member of NextSpace Santa Cruz, powered by Pacific Workplaces. The community roots here run deep and the majority of members—some of whom have been here for 10-plus years—take ownership of the space. This is our community. This is our space.
As a member, contributing to a strong community and collaborative vibe in your space doesn’t happen overnight—it happens, in large part, one connection at a time. But there are things you can do to facilitate community and encourage other members to fully engage in your space. Here are a few strategies to get started:
1. Take Pride in Your Space
Rather than approaching your space as a rental, treat it like your home away from home. Take pride in it. If something needs attention, make sure it gets attention—either from you or your community manager. If someone looks lost, or confused, see if you can help them. The more you engage in the small, daily interactions, the more at-home you and the other members will feel.
2. Adhere to Community Norms in Your Space
Every coworking space has norms. Some of them are an official part of space operations, while others are largely unspoken.
What are the norms in your space? At NextSpace, we have community norms that have been in-place since the early days. They evolve and change here and there, but things like don’t leave your mug in the sink, make more coffee if you take the last of it, and don’t microwave fish, stand the test of time.
3. Open the Communication Channel with your Community Manager
Your community manager is the greatest resource in your space. They are the quiet heroes of coworking. Do you have an idea for an event, or space improvement, or community outreach project? Communicate your ideas, challenges and concerns to the community manager. They are well-connected, knowledgeable and generally proactive.
4. Spread the Word About Your Space
If you love your coworking space, tell people. Space operators rely on word of mouth marketing to bring new leads and members into the space.
Some of us talk (and write) about coworking all day, every day, but it is still largely unknown in mainstream circles. If you have a friend, family member or business colleague who would be a good addition to your coworking community, invite them in for a tour, or get them an affordable Day Pass so they can meet your community manager and fellow members.
5. Write a Review
Especially in crowded coworking markets, space operators depend on reviews to attract new members, day passers, meeting room rentals, virtual mailbox rentals and more.
Platforms including Yelp, Google, Facebook and Trustpilot allow you to quickly and easily leave a rating and review. When you do, paint an honest picture of your space. All reviews that are good and/or constructive are helpful to space operators and even less-than-stellar ones provide an opportunity to communicate and do better.
Note: If you have a complaint, go directly to the community manager to give them an opportunity to address it before leaving a review.
6. Participate in Your Coworking Community
If you want to be part of an engaged, participatory, active coworking community, you need to be an engaged, participatory, active coworking member. You don’t have to attend every event, but offer to host a Lunch and Learn on a favorite topic; attend a fellow members’ meetup or workshop; go to happy hour; and generally find ways to participate.
Bonus: Attending events gives you the opportunity to make connections, which can benefit your business while also showing support for your community and space.
7. Welcome New Members
The first couple of days, or even weeks, in a new coworking space can be overwhelming. New members meet a lot of people, they’re finding their bearings, they’re learning which areas of the space they prefer to work in—they’re generally adjusting to a new environment. If you see someone you don’t know in the space, say hello to them and offer your assistance. It can be something as simple as showing them how to use the coffee maker. It’s amazing how a quick chat can lead to a casual friendship and help newcomers feel more at-home in a space.
8. Be Generous
Generosity is the fuel that keeps coworking going. The best spaces and communities understand that a spirit of mutual support and generosity of time, experience and resources comes back many-fold.
On any given day in a proper coworking space, you may hear designers weighing in on logo ideas; writers giving feedback on an article headline; attorneys and financial advisors giving quick advice or direction; programmers recommending a tool or strategy; event planners sharing best practices; photographers sharing ideas and tips; entrepreneurs sharing resources; and much, much more.
Be generous with your time and energy and you’ll reap unimaginable rewards from your fellow members. Plus, the vibe that generosity creates is one of the best parts of coworking.
9. Be Transparent About Issues
If you witness something unacceptable, or just off, in the space, bring it to the attention of your space operator. As in a family, the longer issues go unaddressed, the trickier they can be to resolve. Better to be transparent about issues in your space so they can be resolved quickly and thoroughly.
What do you do to engage in your coworking space and community? Do you have anything to add to the list?
Join our family of shared workspaces and get a Coworking Day Pass at any of our 17 locations across California—including coworking in Santa Cruz, Berkeley, San Jose, and Walnut Creek. Find a location near you.
by Cat Johnson, a content strategist, storyteller and coworker at NextSpace Santa Cruz