What can I do to empower my Community in those times of social distancing?

Building a community is not an easy thing to do. Community Managers are key points to create this dynamic of connections and collaborations in coworking spaces. They manage to get people together through different kinds of activities, events, and workshops but also thanks to great relational and communication skills and a big load of positivity!

When you search for a coworking space, you are looking for a great workspace and a good internet connection for sure. Most importantly you are looking for a space where you feel comfortable, where you can connect with people to grow professionally, develop new ideas, collaborate, and get the work done! From our point of view, a coworking is a coworking because it offers a real feeling of Community. It is more than just a great workspace. It is a place where entrepreneurs, freelancers, and digital nomads connect, that offers flexibility, proximity, and Community. 

In Spain, restrictions due to the COVID-19 crisis are stricter than in other countries. Social distancing, wearing masks is compulsory everywhere, it is forbidden to gather with more than 10 people and that makes everything a little more complicated when it comes to managing and growing a Community in situ.

Community Managers need to be more creative than ever to reinvent community building in their coworking spaces. As indoor events and activities are so limited, here are 3 points on which you can work to keep on building up your Community.

1. Build online channels for your Community 

Connectedness, a term present in the 2018 Global Startup Ecosystem Report, is the idea that the local network is really important for entrepreneurs, it considers that the integration in a local network (proximity) is a strength when it comes to growing a business. How do you get that online? 

Communication technologies allow us to connect remotely. For work, collaborations, but also with friends and family. Social media platforms have developed tools that allow people to constantly share live content, and communicate with their community. You also have software specially developed for collaboration and communication such as Zoom, Google meet, Drive, Slack, etc. During the lockdown, we have seen many people and companies reinventing themselves to move to a full remote life.

There are many events that you can attend online, live sports sessions, podcasts, online conferences but, how do you keep your community connected and involved? In a coworking space, people are not necessarily working together, but they share common interests, they still need to work on their projects and grow their network. A simple way to keep in touch with the community online is to make sure that your members have a proper space where to communicate, share information, and ideas. You need more than a social media platform, a Facebook group, or Instagram. Ideally your community should have access to a dedicated platform (members access only) where they can follow the activity of the coworking but also to network, collaborate.

The Community manager acts here as a moderator, to conduct the interventions, and reactivate the activity when needed, connecting people, sharing key information, and events to maintain the dynamic. 

2. Organize outdoor events with your Community

Events are a very big added value for a coworking space. People are looking for any opportunity to network and have social interactions. Indeed, the majority of coworking users are small startups and independent entrepreneurs seeking connections. Organizing compelling events for the Community is very important. Usually, coworking spaces organize a large variety of activities such as networking events, after works, fitness classes, and workshops directly in their offices.

How can you still organize compelling events with so many restrictions? How to lessen the risks when organizing reunions with your community?

One of the answers is outdoors. Obviously, it will not be easy depending on your location but here in Barcelona for example, we are very lucky to have almost constant good weather and a very short winter. The city is very well-connected with transportation and is surrounded by nature. 

Lockdown taught us how important is our connection and need of nature, so why not bring your community outside and create great memories, a new version of team-building and networking. You always need to create a safe space for your members and surprise them with some activities they would have never expected from their coworking! Fresh air and natural spaces have never been so appreciated. They offer a positive and safe environment for people to meet comfortably without the fear of being confined in restricted spaces with too many people. The activities you can bring outside are not only fitness classes, you can also organize a hike and introduce some team building activities, you can simply meet your coworker for an afternoon at the beach to spend some quality time with the community. Networking can happen everywhere and in many ways, you just need to be ready to take your community on board with you.

3. Community is all about social connections

In times of crisis like this, what people need the most is social connections. This is why being part of a community, where you can find a sense of belonging, where you share the same struggles, and where you can find support is important. 

We are social beings. Connectedness is what defines us. It is through those interactions that we evolve psychologically. Studies have shown that social interactions have a strong impact and health and well being. In research, a group of psychologists and social neuroscience specialists studied the impact of connectedness on well-being during the confinement. They have shown that “Greater Social Connectedness During COVID-19 Lockdown is Associated with Reduced Distress and Fatigue”. As community manager, you have to understand how your community is feeling. Take some time to listen. Know who is struggling and who is thriving. Ask about their plans and projects. Sometimes a simple chat to change people’s minds can make a big difference. You need to be aware of what is going on, to be able to connect the right people at the right moment. It is essential to show empathy to your community and make them feel comfortable and supported. You need to involve your members in the process. Make them understand how important they are.

Sure thing, you need a Community Manager in your coworking space to build a healthy ecosystem. A community doesn’t grow on its own. In those times of crisis, he or she is a vital element to maintain a strong and healthy community. We are living the most uncertain time of our life and community might be the key to recovery. We need to stay positive, the Coworking world will surely experience an exponential increase in the number of users due to the whole home-office trend that emerged from the COVID-19 crisis.