One of the primary benefits of coworking spaces is building a community of like-minded coworkers. In fact, the Global Workspace Association says time and time again people "come for space but stay for the people." And the Global Coworking Unconference (often referred to as GCUC) has focused its conferences on the power of community.
Coworking events are the key to community building. They can help build relationships among current members through increased shared workplace satisfaction, recruits prospective members and even benefit the local community. But you always need a steady stream of coworking event ideas to keep the community engaged.
Below is a list of coworking events you should use to strategically strengthen the sense of community for your shared workspace.
Coworking Events For Members
- Happy Hour: A tried and true favorite, you should welcome members to end their workday with a beer or glass of wine. Schedule happy hour on regular days and begin around 4 pm so members are more likely to be aware and to find the time to attend.
- Lunch-and-Learns: Over lunch, host a book club, brainstorming session or social potluck meal. Another approach is to bring in outside experts to offer advice to members on topics, whether it be programming, accounting or achieving work/life balance. Let the membership guide luncheon topics to ensure appeal.
- Purposeful Networking: The most effective networking event ideas put the organizer in charge of making connections. Instead of having a roomful of people hoping to find someone that can help them grow personally or professionally, curate the audience to help ensure everyone meets someone interesting to them.
- Accountability Cohorts: For interested members utilize resources such as "cotivation" for short-term accountability groups.
- Purposeful Breaks: Modern office design is full of breakout areas and fun zone. Provide classic board games in communal spaces to encourage member interaction. If space allows, ping pong or Foosball tournaments always draw a crowd.
- Day Trips: A change of scenery may be just what your members need. Utilize group rates for team building and shared experiences. This can be a day at the beach -- literally -- in the country, seeing a show or trust exercises. Plan a variety of activities to engage different members over the course of the calendar.
- Family Events: Employees are happier when their families are involved. So move the occasional networking event to a park-like setting. It will be conducive to casual conversation -- and nothing breaks down barriers like children.
- Member Wall: OK, not technically an event. Regardless, invite members to post photos of their family, work successes or whatever matters most to them on a communal wall. This creates a warm atmosphere and helpers community members find common interests they might not identify in hallway conversations.
- Guest Speakers: Host a lecture or presentation from a thought leader in your industry, either in-house or via a TedX Talk. Not only will this be a great mingling opportunity, but you’ll all walk away with a fresh new perspective and some much-needed motivation!
- Bike To Work: Wednesday, June 24 is National Bike to Work Day. Try to organize a bike group that can cycle to work together that day, or any day you choose to start, and then see if you can keep it up for the rest of the summer!
- Book Club: In a literary state of mind? Maybe some of your fellow workers are reading enthusiasts too! Form a group, select a book, and pour the wine... it’s a recipe for one great evening.
Coworking Events For Prospective Members
Now that you've engaged your members to do their best, some are graduating to dedicated offices. So you always need a backlog of prospects. Don't just give potential coworkers a tour and a free day pass - every coworking space has copiers and a kegerator. Instead wow them by making them feel a part of your coworking community.
- Shadowing: Invite potential members to shadow a current member during the workday. Encourage the current member to make introductions to potential partners for the prospect. Spending time in the space allows non-members to experience the benefits of membership.
- Happy Hour (again!): When prospective members arrive, make sure to greet them by name. Make personal introductions to current community members.
- Training: Utilize your coworking space for free training courses open to the public. Since you know the makeup of your members, offer classes on topics that would be relevant to them. For example, if you are full of tech companies, offer training on the hot new programming language or growth hacking. Non-members who attend will come to recognize your workspace as a fit for them. And they might even run into someone from their network.
- Morning Yoga: Introduce prospective members to your shared workspace by welcoming the day together through morning yoga. Your space will soon feel like “OM” to potential newcomers.
- Meetups: By opening your space up to local meetup groups, such as preschool moms, tech enthusiasts or even a local crafting group, you’re helping to attract new members by showing off your shared workspace to those who may be interested.
- Launch parties: Independent record labels, local book publishers, and others in the creative field are always on the lookout for a great space to host a launch party. Plus, of course, startup tech companies. Be that space, and see what kind of attention you generate!
Giving back to the community offers many benefits to your shared workspace. It will give members a sense of pride about where they work. Consider these events that open your coworking environment to your neighbors.
- Blood Drive: Organize a blood drive for members. Blood banks often have mobile units willing to travel to your location.
- Gift Drive: Sponsor a holiday gift drive partnering with philanthropic organizations like Toys for Tots.
- Network with Other Spaces: Organize an event in partnership with another coworking space in your city. Don't think of them as the competition, consider it a networking event that brings a broader awareness to the community and highlighting the benefits of coworking.
- Service Days: Allow members to propose ideas for serve days. Choose the most popular ideas and plan a day of service. Working for the betterment of your community not only gives back but strengthens the bonds between members.
- Charity Swap: Nearly everyone has a special cause or charity that is dear to their heart. Once a year, perhaps around the winter holidays, organize an event that takes the place of a gift exchange, where members draw names and donate a set amount to the favorite charity of the coworker they drew. It’s a wonderful way to bring members together, and also benefits a number of charities. That's the definition of a win-win!
Conclusion - Coworking Events Build Community
It is vital to know and constantly work to improve the coworking metrics that determine success. Executing the right mix of networking event ideas will lay the foundation for a meaningful coworking community. While many of your events will focus on building a sense of community for your existing member base, you should also execute events for prospective members, and others for the benefit of your neighborhood and community.
Another aspect of success is making sure you know which members and prospects attend events so you can communicate with them according to their interests. Greetly is the best event app for quick registration and printing visitor badges so attendees can recognize each other. Ask us how we can partner with you for coworking event success.