But most important of all, hosts in a coworking space act like hosts in any social space: we provide hospitality, create a supportive, friendly culture and a sense of fun. We make our coworking spaces places people enjoy going to, places where (to quote the theme-tune to1980’s comedy Cheers) “everybody knows your name”.
Every Thursday at HUB Islington, we have our big shared lunch that somewhere along the way ended up being called ‘Sexy Salad’. Always a lively affair, we gather in the kitchen at 12.30 with salad ingredients, bread, cheese, and homemade treats that people have brought in, and make a meal to feast on in the meeting room.
The kitchen is a hive of activity – chopping, sharing ingredients and noisy banter. It’s a whole lot of fun, and a party atmosphere every week. But more importantly, it gives our members a chance to introduce themselves to people they haven’t met before, catch up with those they have, and connect with the community in a relaxed, homely environment that doesn’t suffer the conversation-stultifying tag of ‘networking’.
That doesn’t mean it is all frivolity. Get a bunch of entrepreneurs in a room together and they will end up talking business at some point. I’ve seen countless professional connections made and business ideas spring up during Sexy Salad, as well as members asking advice about a challenge they’re facing while scrubbing through the pile of washing up.
As founder of The Community Manager, David Spinks, says, “nothing is stronger than a well built community”. The best coworking spaces can provide a rich ecosystem that will help members grow their business much more effectively than if they were sat on their own working on their laptops in the bedroom. And the conversation tends to be more interesting than talking to your flowerpots!
Here are my tips for building community in a coworking space…
Make sure you have a kitchen – ours is the hub of the HUB and I always spend an hour or two in there at the start of the day talking to members while they make their coffee or breakfast
Organise community events – consider having regular themed lunches (and parties!) People always relax and get to know each other when there’s food (and drink…) involved.
Provide inspiring content – in the form of programmed events, talks etc. that add value to members experience of the community, educate and promote meaningful conversation.
Have a good induction process for members – some coworking spaces have buddy schemes connecting new members with more established members who can show them the ropes
Make sure you have something worth building a community around! In the HUB, our shared values as a network are what bring people to us and encourage members to be more active, involved community members as they are proud to be part of a network working towards a better world
Anna Levy manages HUB Islington, the original in a global network of over 30 spaces and 4,000 members. HUBs provide a space for socially responsible entrepreneurs to work, connect and collaborate for a better world.