A coworking space is so much more than just a room full of desks. Yes, a shared workspace allows members to reclaim their kitchen table at home, cut the commute and have access to all the office facilities they need locally. However, as the Global Workspace Association keeps pointing out, people may “come for the space but stay for the people”.
One of the key benefits of coworking space is that it brings together a community of like minded professionals in a collaborative environment. As managers and owners of shared workspaces are increasingly coming to realise, there’s a real opportunity to build, grow and engage local communities of small entrepreneurs, start-up business owners, freelance designers and developers and other talented individuals.
While every member has something unique to offer, people are drawn to coworking spaces to network with others, develop business opportunities, share experiences and learn new skills. The space itself, then, is the ideal place for hosting events that deliver extra value to members, help to recruit prospective members and drive community engagement.
Here are 4 types of events that you should consider hosting at your shared workspace.
Think business networking
If you’re not already doing this, you’re missing a big trick. Networking is essential for ensuring that everyone in your workspace knows everyone else. Whether as a formal bookable event or an informal gathering, it’s an excellent way for newcomers to be welcomed into the fold, while offering a chance for existing members to strengthen and deepen connections.
From breakfast meet & greets to guest speaker tech talks, coworking sets the scene for effective networking in a broad business context.
Example: Happy Hour
Schedule Happy Hour on regular days, starting at around 4pm, and welcome your members to relax at the end of a busy working day or week with a friendly chat over a glass of wine or beer. Invite a local wine expert, craft beer maker or mixologist along to give a talk, demonstration and tasting for added jollity.
Why not team up with a professional networking club or local business organisation to widen the reach of your shared workspace and promote your venue? Most coworking spaces have large open plan areas that are perfect for hosting events in unstuffy, creative and inspiring surroundings
Forget all about work
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, the old saying goes. Over the last few decades, the balance between work and leisure time has increasingly shifted towards the former. Advanced technology and 24/7 connectivity disproportionately affects those working for themselves, and a strong drive to succeed in their chosen profession often means that there’s not much time left to just have fun.
The coworking community can provide the right context in which to help dress the balance, with social activities aimed at relaxation and distraction. Exactly how to style this kind of event depends largely on the personalities in your workspace. It could be as easy as hosting a regular film night or a retro videogame evening. You could organise monthly outings to a West End show or a Day at the Races. Or you could blow the collective cobwebs away with some adrenaline fuelled group activities such as these.
Example: Quad Biking
Off road quad biking on muddy tracks and tricky terrain is one of the best driving adventures, and the total opposite to most people’s normal work day. Why not get a group of fellow thrill seekers together and explore your wild side for a day? Training and safety gear are provided – just bring clothes that you don’t mind getting dirty.
Support a local cause
Many shared workspaces are created out of a strong desire to support the local community and give something back. Why not take this one step further and use the space for a charity event that benefits a local group?
Whether your village primary school is raising funds for better computing equipment, a local hospice is looking for a venue for a charity coffee morning or there’s a sponsored bike ride going on, you can tap into the coworking community and make a valuable contribution.
Charity events can be designed around whatever people want to do. Raffle and silent auction? Fashion show or piano recital? Pop up sale or themed buffet lunch? Whatever you choose, don’t forget to promote it widely on social media to create extra buzz, and benefit from enhanced support and positive feedback.
Example: Quiz Night
Who doesn’t like a good quiz? Decide on a theme that’s going to generate the most interest – themed or general – and choose which charitable cause you want to benefit from the proceeds. Get a volunteer quizmaster to do devise the questions and do the honours on the night. You host the night and guests pay to play.
Focus on wellbeing
Most of those who share coworking spaces are ambitious independent entrepreneurs, freelancers and creatives striving to achieve commercial success. Self-care is not a concept that many are familiar with, or indeed practise regularly, but it has been proven to help achieve greater productivity, workplace happiness and success.
Self-care is a catch-all term that covers a host of personal health maintenance techniques, each of which is designed to promote mental and physical wellbeing. From taking regular physical exercise to healthy eating, relaxation and proper sleep and much more besides, shared workspaces can play an important role in providing a safe, supportive environment for morning meditations, yoga or tai chi classes, nutrition workshops, relaxation tips and tricks and much more.
Example: Mindfulness practiceMindfulness and meditation are nearly as old as the hills but it’s only in recent years that the benefits of ‘staying in the moment’ have become widely recognised. Offer regular, short beginner sessions to your members, with simple breathing techniques and exercises that everyone can follow, and notice the effect in terms of stress reduction and general calmness