Top Tips for Coworking Community Management by Jeannine van der Linden

Jeannine van der Linden presenting her top tips for coworking community management.

As part of the launch of the Coworking Community Challenge I asked a few coworking space operators to make a video with their top tips for community management. Jeannine sent this great video with what matters the most to her and that I think is extremely useful. She is the founder and operator of De Kamer and also my successor as President of the European Coworking Assembly, among many other coworking related activities.

Full transcript below the video. Highlighting is mine for the tl;dr readers out there :)

My name is Jeannine van der Linden. I run a network of co-working spaces in the Netherlands known as De Kamer. We have eight locations.

I’ve been asked by Ramon to talk about the most important parts of coworking community management.

I think probably after thinking about it for a while the most important thing about coworking community management is know who you are and know who you are for. I mean, it sounds sort of abstract…

When I first started out I engaged in a marketing exercise which was write about your business as if it were a character a character in a book or a play, and I thought it was stupid but I did it anyway.

And truth is, what I’ve discovered in the last eight-nine years of running coworking communities is, it’s really important to know who you are as a coworking community and and who you’re for. You need to be prepared to not be all things to all people.

I think when we start we all want to be all things to all people. No one can, and really it’s not worth the effort to try. You can be for freelancers, you can be for digital nomads, you can be for small businesses, you can be for people who start up businesses on the side but who have a job during the day (there are a lot of those now)…

The number of people using coworking, interested in coworking, who can be benefited by coworking is enormous, and this isn’t pokemon: you don’t gotta catch them all.

Spend some time deciding who you are and who you’re for. Communicate that clearly in your marketing, communicate it clearly to your coworkers and you’ll find a lot of decisions become a lot easier to make. Community management becomes in many ways self-evident. A lot of very difficult problems become very simple.

Figure out who you are and who you’re for. It’s really important

Definition of Coworking

Coworking is the act of engaging a community of freelancers, entrepreneurs, remote workers and small businesses in a shared space with the purpose of working and helping each other out professionally and personally through the creation and activation of relationships.

Coworking requires that the operators of coworking spaces actively create opportunities for and engage the coworkers to get to know and help each other.

The people doing it are the facilitators of coworking spaces (although they can be known under multiple names). They facilitate the introductions, point to who can help, etc.

Without the development of links among the coworkers there’s no community and there’s no coworking.

Coworking also refers to the act of working in a coworking space. In some regions it is used as shorthand for coworking space. When companies say they do coworking they are referring to the fact that they have a coworking space.

Without an engaged community you do not have a coworking space. You may have a collection of people in a shared working space but not a coworking space.

These are the mandatory elements to identify a real coworking space:

* Calls itself or the service it offers coworking.
* Has a fully dedicated space for coworking (not just a few hours or a cafeteria shared with patrons).
* Has an active community of members, not just clients.
* Has at least one facilitator dedicated to connect the members and build trust among them, engaging in activities to build the coworking community.
* Treats coworkers as 1st class clients.
* Promotes and encourage collaboration, interaction and serendipity.
* Offers one or many kinds of membership (full or part time).
* Does not discriminate who can become a member or how they can participate with hidden or implicit rules.

The original elements I included as President of the European Coworking Assembly (abandoned after I left) that were included in the Coworking is Dead article. I advanced this elements in the coworking community group (where the last one was added) before using them as founding principles of the European Coworking Assembly and the nascent Belgian association of coworking spaces (with the approval of the members of both).

Think of them as the eight commandments of coworking.

Coworking is not written with a hyphen. Co-working is wrong when used in this context and should be preserved to refer to people working for the same company (co-workers) as I requested to the AP and they included in the AP Style Book.

Note that AP’s definition does not include a word about community.

There are plenty of other collaborative and shared work spaces and there’s nothing wrong with them, but if they are not doing coworking with its community aspect, they should not refer to themselves as coworking spaces.

You may also want to take a look at the advantages of coworking and its disadvantages.

If you want to open a coworking space or you are struggling with one, you will benefit from reading The Coworking Handbook.

Coworking Handbook Updates

These are the updates to the book The Coworking Handbook. Nothing of substance has changed since it was published. So grab a cup of coffee and relax :)

Introduction

I’ve digged deeper into the definition of coworking with my roles leading coworking associations. You may want to also read Coworking Is Dead.

Community

I’ve made a full course that extends on the community chapter to help coworking space operators grow and activate their communities. It is a practical extension of the chapter in The Coworking Handbook.

Marketing and Sales

Social Media

Facebook and Twitter have lost a lot of impact. They are still useful as part of the marketing mix of channels you use to promote your coworking space but their efficacy is a lot smaller and they drive very little traffic.

Social media are under constant change. As I said in the book, the best thing is to try. Test which ones work for you and keep an eye out for changes in the algorithms and usage trends.

When it comes to tools, I no longer use the ones mentioned in the book. I keep on testing to find the one that works best for me depending on my changing needs.

Email

Not really an update, just a reminder: email is super powerful. Keep on building and refreshing your lists and use them!

Finance

Coworking space operators spend on average between 30 to 40% of their income on the rental of their coworking space.

And that’s it. If you want to be informed of further updates, deals, and other coworking info, sign up here.

Talk to Coworking Operators Like You Once a Week

Because of my thirst for learning and connecting I’ve stumbled upon a service that connects you in a call with other people around the world: Dialup.

When I looked up at the subjects I couldn’t find a line for coworking operators (the people that run the spaces), so I contacted them and Danielle has accepted :) We now have a free line to talk to coworking space operators like us around the world

The name of our channel is cooperator (from COworking OPERATOR). Please, only join if you are already running a coworking space.

I view it as a pre-mastermind group, where once a week you can talk to somebody that is going through the same challenges, ups and downs.  It is not structured and you never know who you are going to talk to or where they are.

This service runs through a free app for Android and iOS When you get a call you take it if you can, no worries to drop them, the person in the other end will be connected to somebody else. 

Enter cooperator in the Join Lines box: 

And click join! 

I know, I know, I’m a has been that is no longer running a coworking space… but I can help a lot. So join the free line if you want to get to talk to me too, but you will mostly speak to each other! :) 

The calls happen right now of Monday evenings, but Danielle is looking into adding more times based on the timezones of the people that signup.

Join the coworking operators phone line!

I’m really looking forward to talk to you :)

PS: this is not a paid advertising. I’m not getting anything from Dialup. I just think this is a great opportunity to get support from other coworking space operators! 

Coworking Benefits: The Global Movement You Should Care About

Customize the Infographic With Your Own URL

Are you considering launching a coworking space? Do you work in one now? Maybe you’ve never even heard of the concept. Regardless, that’s why I’m writing this blog. I want to tell you more about the global movement of coworking, and how it’s changing the lives of so many entrepreneurs and freelancers worldwide.

Coworking brings endless benefits to coworkers. From increased productivity to happiness, and plenty in-between. However, I’ve gone ahead and compiled the top ten so you can get an idea of why you should consider coworking for your business.

  1. Expedited Growth

    Coworking gives you the right environment to focus on your current and future goals while helping you be more productive.

  2. Expand Your Network

    You never know who you might meet in a co-working space. You might make some friends, you might make some professional contacts. You might make both! Coworking spaces are all about communities. The people behind these communities want to bring people together who share common interests. You might also get the chance to find new clients and grow your income, talent and people to work with, and more. By introducing yourself to others, you never know what you might achieve.

  3. No Distractions

    We all know how frustrating it can be to work in a traditional office environment and be distracted by coworkers’ questions the whole time. If you work from home, you’re vulnerable to distractions by your family. In a coworking space, people respect your privacy – but they’re there to support you if you need it. You can crack on with work, free from distraction, and get more done, faster.

  4. Zero temptation

    Working from home is dangerous. The fridge is right there at all times, as is the pantry full of treats. By working in a coworking space, you’ll be forced to eat nothing but the lunch you packed for yourself. Speaking of temptation, there’s also no TV to watch or cozy bed to cuddle up and nap in. You’ll only be surrounded by other hard-working professionals! Coworking spaces get you out of your home (and out of your PJs) where you can work in a clean, professional environment and work like the professional you are.

  5. Stay inspired

    It’s easy to feel alone when you’re working from home by yourself. If you see countless people working hard around you, you’ll be inspired to do the same. In coworking spaces, you’re usually surrounded by people from all sorts of industries, exposing you to all kinds of different ideas and ways to stay motivated. In coworking spaces, you’re never alone – unlike if you were isolated at home. You’ll embark on a journey with others who also go through good times and bad times!

  6. Be Creative

    By getting out of your home and surrounding yourself with more interesting people, you’re more likely to tap into your creative side more of the time. Coffee breaks in coworking spaces are where the magic happens, and incredible ideas are born. You can share your ideas with others and hear their input – it could just change everything. Coworking spaces have also been found to increase self-confidence by helping you to establish a better working routine.

  7. Better work/life balance

    Insomnia isn’t uncommon in people who work from home. Why? Because they can’t separate home from business. By traveling to a coworking space each day, you’ll get into the habit of mentally isolating home from work to enjoy a better work/life balance, and of course, better sleep. It’s best to switch off at the end of the day then focus on work again tomorrow. Coworking spaces help you establish and stick to a routine while still keeping to your own schedule. These spaces are designed to adapt to your needs!

  8. Better Health and Happiness

    Studies show that loneliness can literally wreak havoc on your well-being. By being in the company of others, you can recharge your physical and mental batteries. There’s something about seeing familiar friendly faces every day that make us feel good.

  9. Better Internet

    This one pretty much speaks for itself. Coworking spaces must have fast internet to cater to the needs of people across all sorts of industries – like video editors and graphic designers or animators who demand high speed and performance. Take advantage of it!

  10. Save money

    Not only will you not have to travel or sit in mind-numbing traffic, maximizing your income-producing hours, but you can also save on utility bills seeing as coworking spaces cover this expense themselves. You also never have to worry about dealing with service providers or repairs. If something goes wrong at the coworking space, they have to fix it – not you! Also, renting a coworking space is far cheaper than renting a traditional office.

Honestly, this is just the beginning – and the only way to experience the coworking difference is to try it out for yourself!

If you run a coworking space yourself or are planning to, get the complete Coworking Handbook to improve your business right away.