We’re back with another featured space! This weeks feature is Deskworx and we thought we’d change it up and have them guest post!
Coworking is about Community
By: Elise Loterman
When I share with people that I recently made a career transition from running a not-for-profit university student organization to managing a for-profit coworking space, I often get quizzical looks and probing questions trying to understand how that happened. For me, the answer to that question is simple- the most important skill in both jobs is building, nurturing, and sustaining a community.
While many believe that the word coworking is synonymous with shared office or serviced office space, the reality is, there is a big difference. People are choosing coworking because (often) they are searching for more than simply a quiet place to work. Small businesses, freelancers, and start-ups are looking for networks, connections, and some type of “value added” that they will not get working from their basement, the local coffee shop, or the library.
As a result, I have invested a fair bit of time and effort into building a strong community at deskworx. Here are some of the successful things that we have done in order to build and strengthen our community:
Member directory and discounts- We have made an effort to focus on ensuring that our community members know about each other’s businesses and backgrounds. Since we are a relatively large space with a capacity of almost 80, the space is big enough to get lost in the shuffle. We recently spent time building a member directory that has a list of each company, who their staff is, what their contact details are, what their core business function is, and if they are able to offer discounts to other co-workers. This has become a valuable resource in our community and has lead to business deals as well as strategic partnerships.
Monthly social events- Our calendar includes monthly social and networking events for our co-workers to participate in and build relationships with each other. These events often start with a crowd-breaker or a slightly more formal round of introductions. We always make sure to do this if new co-workers have joined since our last event in order to integrate them as seamlessly as possible.
Personal Introductions- If someone is coming into the coworking space as a solo-preneur or freelancer, I will make specific introductions to a couple of people that come from similar demographics, are involved in similar types of work, or whose personalities would work well together. Once I find a specific point of connection, it provides an immediate jumping off point for conversation and an ongoing relationship.
Maintaining a friendly environment- It is important to us to maintain a friendly environment throughout our space. Even things like saying good morning, smiling to people, and checking in from time to time on how people are going or how their day was provides an opportunity for people to share with us as well as with each other.
Do you have other ideas that you have used to build community? Let us know, we are always looking for more great ways for our community to be strengthened and grow and develop.
Elise Loterman is the Community Development Manager at deskworx coworking, a coworking space in St Kilda, Victoria.
If you want to check out Deskworx, they will be apart of the coworking tours at GCUC AU.