Coworking Alliance Asia Pacific (CAAP) presented a live webinar on community building in the coworking sector on March 29, 2017, with Tony Bacigalupo as the speaker. Tony, with years of experience in helping coworking communities grow across the world through his group, New Work Cities, shared interesting insight on what is a community really and how to build just the right kind.
Coworking grew from the idea of the modern workforce’s need to gather in a physical location who wouldn’t otherwise. It is never simply about the office space, the internet or the furniture. It is about the energy, the people, and the experience. A self-sustainable coworking space needs to buzz with a sense of belonging and connections. However, the challenge lies in embedding this very concept in a coworking space.
In this session, Tony imparted valuable information on how a community is what makes a coworking space truly awesome and how to build it. Some of his thoughts in a nutshell are-
- Be real. Customers demand realness, authenticity. Promoting your coworking space like any other business will surely put down customers. They need to see the human side of what the coworking space offers to be able to truly resonate with its message.
- Try things. A coworking space should be a happening and exciting hub. If it falls into a rut of rote daily activities, things aren’t right. Experiment, bring variety, try out new things to keep your space abuzz.
- Don’t attach to outcomes. Our ideas, ventures, and events aren’t necessarily always met with the kind of response we would like. Instead of letting binary concepts of success and failure affect you, learn to utilize information for the next opportunity.
- Say yes. Accept new ideas or at least entertain them. Delegate responsibilities. Taking over complete authority means taking more than you can handle and this can lead to burnout. Allow yourself space and let your team grow. Distribute what it means to be a community throughout the coworking space, the members, and the employees, rather than being at the center of it.
A coworking space is all about the experiences. People remember how they felt at a particular event, social or educational, the emotions they experienced and the acceptance they received- a mental montage underscored with a coworking space they were a part of. So, create experiences. Potluck dinners, birthday parties, movie nights are ways to build an inclusive and welcoming environment that is just as much about work as about the social needs of a human being. Don’t buy into the conventional office space; create a unique experience of what it means to cowork as a community.