The Essential Coworking Community Toolkit for Struggling Space Managers

 

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Are you struggling to bring together the community dynamics that you need for your coworking space? Are you full of good energy but lack the ideas and processes to improve your coworking space’s communityTony comes to the rescue with his Ultimate Coworking Community Toolkit. He has given me early access to review it and I have to say that it is great!

The materials proposed by Tony are very well structured and helpful. He’s done a great work of simplifying and structuring a lot of content, from operational guides to ready to print flyers. It is very easy to follow and to use. Some of the documents just need to add the name of your space, your logo and the number of members and they are ready to use. There are a lot of clear instructions to run events and execute tasks.

Tony’s toolkit will help a lot of people.

I’ve known Tony for a long time and like what he has done, the way he shares and the new things he’s doing for coworking. I asked him to write the preface for The Coworking Handbook, he hosted the world première at New Work City in New York, and he even helped me find the proofreader for the book. He’s one of those people that makes the whole coworking movement so great.

Structure

When you buy the community toolkit you get access to a Google Drive folder that contains all the documents:

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Clean and simple. Tony has made it very easy to navigate the documentation and to go straight to what matters to you based on your needs. If you want to go through all of it, you can do it quickly in a single morning. This is just to get an idea, to work on the different items you will spend hours (it is easy to read the questions in a form, not so easy to answer them) but you will save many times more that time.

Business Planning

When you open this section you find two documents, a long term planning sheet and a launch checklist. Don’t be fooled by the number of documents, you are going to spend a lot of time with these two. The planning sheet is full of questions that will make you thing hard about the future of your business and will help you understand and structure your long term engagement with the community, all the way up to a potential exit.

The pre-launch checklist goes over the must haves to ensure that you are ready.

Community

The community folder includes instructions to start a community from scratch, instructions to design the different levels of membership, a community audit, and a nifty tool to track the engagement of your members. You will have to answer a few questions here and in exchange you will have a great set of tools to keep your work in track.

Operations

This folder is the dream of many new space operators. It contains a simple and comprehensive operations manual where you just need to add your logo and name of the space to have it ready to use by your team.

It also comes with an interesting program to incentivize your coworkers to work for you in exchange of free coworking time. This is not just the bartering idea, it has a document explaining everything so that you can just post it and get applications. Tony has successfully used this program to staff NWC, but he warns that if you plan to have only this to work with you in your space it probably will only be suited for small spaces. When you get to larger spaces with more people coming and going you really do need someone who’s being paid to ensure everything is running smoothly.

Programming

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Here you will find the recipes for three different kind of events. The meetings to welcome aboard new members and introduce them to your community are a fundamental part of the onboarding process.

Then you have the show and tells, another great tool to have the members do something for the community and at the same time promoting themselves. It is all about value!

The Cotivation and Impact Coworkign Program are linked. In his own words:

The Impact Coworking Program takes the notion behind Cotivation and scales it up. While Cotivation tends to be a 5 week program just among a small group, Impact Coworking runs several months per cycle and can be integrated into the membership model. You can tack on a Cotivation program to any coworking space model. The Impact Coworking Program gives you a way to attract members with more than just a desk, and a way to continually engage and refresh the connections between members with big seasonal goal-setting events. It’s super powerful.

You will find more tested event ideas in The Coworking Handbook and the calendars of spaces like Betacowork Coworking Brussels.

Resources and Research

This folder includes Tony’s selection of research papers, including those from several coworking spaces. Head here to find coworking statistics.

Books

There are two books included here, Tony’s own No More Sink Full of Mugs and also How to Create Your Ultimate Mastermind Team Workbook.

If you want more books to help you run your coworking business I keep a list of my favorite and most useful books coworking books and business readings here.

Signage and Graphics

The signage folder contains flyers, posters and social media images that you can use for your events, for facility management, etc. The files are provided in both editable and printable formats, and there’s also a list of links to the original files in Canva to make it even easier to customize and play with them. It also includes the event rent card with the pricing for events at New Work City.

The Graphics folder contains an example of different files and formats used for the coworking brand.

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Who’s Tony Bacigalupo

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Tony is the founder of NWC, he’s run a coworking space for 6 years in New York and is currently leading Open Coworking, the global organization for the coworking movement. I’ve asked him a few questions about the coworking toolkit that may help you understand him and what he’s done better, and also help you run your coworking space:

What would you say are the most important things in your life that shaped you to be able to run NWC and to write this toolkit?

I grew up in the suburbs, where the 20th century western culture of everyone being cooped up in their homes with their things reigned supreme. So from very early on, I’ve been feeling a powerful need to find a community to belong to.

When I found coworking, I found a chance to give myself and others a way of connecting to people that I feel many of us desperately need.

The Toolkit is the result of 8 years of dedication to learning everything I could about how to build and sustain a great coworking community. Since there were so little answers out there when I got started, we had to come up with a lot of them ourselves.

Now, though, others who are starting spaces all over the world need not take more time and energy to solve the same problems that have been solved before. I’d love to see people build on the progress that I and others have made, so they can focus on going further.

How did you draft the Coworking Toolkit?

It’s the collective work of a lot of contributions over the years.

What are your tips for selecting the members to help you run your coworking space?

You want to find people who really want to be a part of your community. Odds are good you already know at least one of those people. These are people you wish could be members, but they just can’t afford it.

They have to be folks who are excited to meet everyone who walks in the door. That doesn’t mean they have to be extroverts; some of our best desk captains were the opposite. But they have to care about the people and have a desire to cultivate relationships.

Beyond that, they don’t need a heck of a lot in the way of skills. It’s more about the heart than the head.

And for hiring trainees and employees?

For employees, you want to get a sense of where they are in their journey. Working at a coworking space can be a life-changing opportunity for someone, if they’re in the right place to take advantage.

Think about the ideal scenario for their departure, and how far off that is. In my mind, the ideal scenarios are that they: 1) start a new business and become successful enough to become members themselves, 2) get hired by one or several of the members, or 3) end up developing a program or project that could augment your community in a new way.

It also helps to set time boundaries. Tell them when you’re hiring them that the role is one you expect to keep them at for about a year, and then at that point your hope is for them to “graduate” upward into one of the scenarios I just described.

That gives you and them a sense of continuity and a goal to check back in on as time progresses.

Which is the most important part of coworking space operations?

I think it’s just most important to have all your bases covered. When situations come up, whoever’s at the helm should be able to easily find an answer or generally know how to handle unpredictable situations.

Why did you include the mastermind book? What makes it important for coworking space managers?

Masterminds are so handy because they’re really easy to implement yet so powerful in fostering connections between people.

It’s also a really great book that the creators wanted to put out into the world and spread as widely as possible. I’m grateful to them for that.

Do you want more? Head to the Coworking Toolkit.

 

Author: Ramon Suarez

Tech startups, entrepreneurship, & coworking; @Betacowork founder; Coworking Handbook author; @startupsbe & @Betagroup board member; @hsbxl noob; blogger; chocolate ambassador; Brussels lover.Connect on Twitter and Google+.