Community Cultivators: Cohere Coworking

I want to take a moment to recognize the FIVE Cohere members who make Cohere run smoothly. Adding several cultivators has really taken our community to the next level. While I still do much of the broader organization for Cohere (see also: Amazon Prime Orders), having this capable crew on tap has made all the difference in my sanity and has distributed responsibility across many people rather than everything landing squarely on my plate.

Alaina Massa: Team Tidy

For those of you who are really paying attention to details, my Cohere Bandwidth staff person is Tim Massa. These two are married and having both on the team is infinitely better than just having only one. Alaina recently took over the big task of keeping Cohere’s space in tip-top shape. She comes under the cover of darkness each week and when we arrive the next morning, everything is sparkling. If you are in need of some clean, contact Choice City Cleaning.

Carrie Lamanna: Copy Editing Magic

Carrie is a writer/editor/professor by trade and I’ve recently had her start copy editing all of my coworking consulting resources. I *know* I’m an average writer and having Carrie as my secret weapon helps me deliver more consistent content that makes more sense. She did NOT edit this post so don’t blame her for my flaws.

Andy Brown: Tours & More

Andy is an expert in e-media analytics and pretty much the nicest human ever. He cares for the basic maintenance around Cohere: finding rare light bulbs for old fixtures, minding the recycling and alerting me when supplies get low. He also does the bulk of our tours and orientations for prospective and new members. Book a date with Andy here. 

Jenny Benton-Fischer: Tours, Sarcasm and Therapy for Angel

Jenny and I have been running into each other for something like 15 years and she’s been a remote member of Cohere for YEARS. Her recent move back to graphic design freelance finally freed her up to be here in person. I knew she was “The One” when we both said a swear in her interview. Book a tour with Jenny.

Kim Kimball: Rocket Ships, Math and Jokes

Kim wanted a way to spend more time in the coworking area vs. his neat little office downstairs so he came on board to help out too. Kim works remotely for the NASA Jet Propulsion Lab in Pasadena under the guise of IT but usually just does hard math a lot. He’s also super good at scrubbing the kitchen sink (which, honestly, is why I had my eye on him to Cultivate anyway). He’ll be giving tours and delighting the members with his quick wit and Roomba jokes.

I do sincerely hope you’ll come visit us and meet our amazing team of Cohere Cultivators. They are equipped to help you meet other coworking members, find a fork or recommend a lunch spot in Downtown Fort Collins.

Honorable Mention: Harvey Wallbanger

Named by member Julie Sutter, Harvey is the unsung hero of Cohere. Between the tree seed pods, the cottonwood fluff and spilled coffee grounds, Harvey fires up at midnight each night and keeps our floor spotless. He also often gets trapped or stuck and we have to rescue him. It’s a labor of love though.

 

Unsolicited Advice for Displaced Galvanize Coworkers

So your coworking space is closing. That super sucks. You’re all entrepreneurs and self starters: problem solvers of the quickest kind. I’m hear to say to you STOP. Do not take action on a lease right now.

I’ve been working on coworking and community in Fort Collins and around the world since 2009. That’s three years before Galvanize incorporated for its first space. At the time of Galvanize’s closing, Cohere was/is on a wait list for membership. I think I’m worth listening to…at least when it comes to coworking in Fort Collins.

Please Hold

I was on hold with Comcast but I use this photo every time I want to indicate that I am exasperated.

Do not make decisions right now.

You’ve had a big crushing blow to your heads when it comes to office space. The great news is, you can office from literally anywhere these days. You could invite your employees into your living room and probably get in a solid day of work. A small gap in well-equipped office space is not a crisis. Spaceships won’t fall out of orbit. DO. NOT. MAKE. DECISIONS. RIGHT. NOW.

All the displaced coworkers need to take a collective deep breath and process what the fuck happened in your spaces and communities. Because you didn’t own the space, you might not understand why your space is closing. On paper, your space closed due to lack of money. In my mind, your space closed due to lack of community and an overzealous interpretation of the market research about how many people wanted to pay $26,000 to learn how to code. The fact that you didn’t know your space was closing until you got the announcement is proof that your space lacked one of the key values of coworking: transparency.

Do not sign a lease and especially don’t try to keep the Galvanize lease.

That Galvanize building will be one of THE most expensive buildings in Old Town. You don’t spend a few million on a renovation and thousand dollar desks to cut a great deal to the poor displaced members. That space has NOTHING to do with Galvanize’s success or failure. Okay, I’ll admit it was absurdly expensive but the space didn’t do much to foster community. At all. Don’t even get me started on the caste system of placing people on higher levels based on how much they could afford. Ugh.

If you love your current startup or business, you will hate being a Community Manager.

I bet you want to start your own coworking space. I bet that feels easy since you’ve been a member of one for a little while. Being a member of a space and running a space are really different. It took me TWO full time years to get Cohere off the ground. Even now, I have a small army of part time people to help me attend to all the details of our relatively small community. If you don’t want to abandon your other job, do NOT start a coworking space. Also, there is far less money in coworking than you might think.

Explore your existing coworking options first.

There are at least three shared spaces in Fort Collins that are not at capacity. Please give those a chance before trying to start your own. The Articulate, Digital Workshop Center, and Office Evolution. The fact that you were all in the same world (startup and tech) is actually a disservice to your companies. You’ll grow more when surrounded by people in different stages of growth including those people who have dialed in their businesses and are NOT in startup mode as well as the freelancers that are keeping everyone’s small businesses afloat.

cohere-member-wallHire me so you can have ^^ this many friends in your coworking space.

You don’t have to do this alone. I will encourage and teach you how to engage your budding community before you sign a lease so we don’t have to read about your closure in 18 months. Email me right away to get my $500 one-on-one consulting package. It even includes math worksheets and realistic member growth rates! There’s also another compelling reason to email me right now but it’s a secret until January 1.

 

 

Shit I Never Thought I’d Have to Buy This Coworking Space

A surprise county tax form afforded me the opportunity to review every purchase I’ve made for the Cohere coworking spaces in the past 5 years. Some stuck out amid my former business plan list of what a coworking space needed (wifi, coffee, desks, chairs, power strips) In no particular order I present to you a cautionary listicle of shit you might have to buy for your coworking space:

12 Forks

A dual plug digital power cycler for Unifi Pro wifi access points

12 Forks

Unicorn pinataFullSizeRender_1

Eleventy hundred packs of Command adhesives

The world’s secretly tiniest and least useful trash/recycling bin

Moon Gels

Chia Obama Handmade Decorative Planter, Determined Pose: Priceless

Preformed coin wrappers, 100 count, quarters (of which I have used exactly 8)

1 pack multi-color star stickers

3 Tripp Lite N201-020-GY Cat6 Gigabit Gray Snagless Molded Patch Cable RJ45M/M – 20 feet

4 Forks

TV Cart / Stand for LCD, LED, Plasma, Flat Panel TVs with 3″ Wheels, mobile fits 32″ to 50″: bomb proof

200 million Tripp Lite PS2408 Power Strip 120V 5-15R 8 Outlet 15ft Cord Vertical Metal 0URM

400 ForksFullSizeRender

Lite Brites: 2

12 More Forks

Recessed Door Reinforcer 1-3/4-Inch Thick by 2-3/8-Inch Backset 2-1/8-Inch Bore, Stainless Steel

Music Note Black Poly Resin Coated Tin Cookie Cutter 3.5″ for use in making Cohere Bandwiches obv.

IMG_3512

Polaroid High Capacity Replacement Battery For The Polaroid Instant Digital Camera

Portable Foldable Universal Mini Desk Table Stand Holder For iPad: code for world’s cheapest/most effective ipad standFullSizeRender_2

Congratulations (Gold) Award Seals Stickers – 4 stickers per sheet, 8 sheets: I wanted silver. Not gonna lie.

What weird things have you bought for your coworking space?

Stop Fucking Up This Type of Email

suggestion-boxIn a world of increasing remote work and ever expanding social networks people are desperate to connect in a more meaningful way (besides our lovely coworking space in Fort Collins). Often, that meaningful way is to get a cooperative 3rd party to introduce you to someone over email. If one more well-meaning 3rd party sends me a “connection” email like the following, I’m going to go CRAY all over the interwebs.

Angel,

I was in a meeting with these folks yesterday and thought you’d all like to connect. Find their email addresses above.

Tom

WHY?! Why would I want to email a bunch of strangers? It’s sort of like ringing my doorbell and slinging a couple of strangers into my living room then driving away, tires squealing. But because I’m a lovely person, I tried to email the strangers and ask what they needed from me but Tom, in his infinite wisdom, mistyped all of their email addresses so they all bounced back. Tom, you’re a peach. Never change.

Here is a formula for crafting connection emails that won’t make your friends and colleagues cringe:

Character Key:

Needer: person who you’re trying to help

Giver: person who you think can help

Me: I tell the Needer that I’ll send a connection email so they know it’s coming. OCCASIONALLY I will warn the Giver that a connection email is coming but since I’ve pretty much nailed the connection email process this isn’t usually necessary. I ALWAYS address the Giver first in the email and the NEEDER second.

Components of the Connection Email:

Address the email to both the NEEDER and the GIVER.

Title: Please e-meet each other!

Giver,

I’d like to introduce you to my friend NEEDER. She loves X, Y, Z (Z is always directly related to the need they have). Background info like relocation, education, jobs or another way they might know each other OR the context of why they should know one another (you were both at my birthday party). Needer asked for my help in meeting people who Z & A so naturally you jumped right out at me as an expert in those areas. NEEDER will be emailing you with more info about the project etc. Needer is also available to help volunteer for your upcoming event if that’s helpful for you.

Needer,

Please meet my dear friend, GIVER. She loves X, Y, Z and we’ve known each other for xx years. She has been instrumental in Z & A so she’ll be a wealth of information for your upcoming project. Giver is wicked busy right now due to an upcoming presentation so it may take her a few days to get back with you. Thanks for being patient.

I’ll let you two connect directly from here as everyone is copied on this email. I hope it’s fruitful for you both!

Angel

Summary:

There are a couple of key components that will make your connection email more useful to everyone.

First, in order to pull off a stellar connector email, you HAVE to know both parties fairly well. You won’t be able to address their likes, needs and personality if you’ve never had a good conversation. If you don’t know each party well enough to follow the script above YOU SHOULD NOT BE SENDING CONNECTOR EMAILS!

Second, always make it clear WHO is supposed to take action. 99% of the time, I ask the NEEDER to send the next email and a tip on what it should contain. This removes ALL the ambiguity of who is supposed to do what and it’s the key thing that is lacking in almost every connection email I RECEIVE. #awkward.

Here are some real world examples of connection emails that I have sent in the past month:

Amanda M,

Please meet Amanda W.  Amanda is relocating here in August. She mentioned that she’s certified in event planning, has an MBA and loves coordinating business events so it seemed natural to connect you two.

Amanda W, please meet Amanda M. Amanda and I have known each other for years and she’s a neighbor to our midtown Cohere location. Here is her website xxxxxxxx. Amanda is well-connected to many businesses, events and the arts scene here in town.

 I’d love for you two to meet sometime and see if an interesting connection pops for you. I’ll leave it to Amanda W to email Amanda M.

 Glad my name’s not Amanda,

Angel

C,
Please meet S, Founder of the xxxxxx. We used to be next door neighbors in Fort Collins (our businesses, not our homes) and S is expanding into Denver. He’s looking for connections with the coolest coworking spaces both for space to conduct the tech workshops AND as a business landing place.

S, Please meet C of xxx xxx. We’ve been circling each other in the coworking world for 4-ish years now?! xxx xxx is very similar to Cohere and if I may be biased, is my favorite Denver coworking hub. C is the founder and community manager for both locations.
S, please email C and explain in more detail what you’re needing.

Angel

***********************************

Go forth and connect.

Ridiculously Productive Meetings

FullSizeRender

I bet you never wonder how 3 people with full-time jobs manage to shoe-horn in the creation of a shared rehearsal space for Fort Collins in their “spare” time. If you’ve been following us, you might wonder why I would brag about our ridiculously productive meetings for Cohere Bandwidth when we’ve been at this for almost 2 years. If you must know, most of that 2 years was spent waiting on real estate with very few DONES getting checked off of our TO-DOS. Skip below to the COMPLETION step if you are skimming.

But now that the space is REAL and under construction we spend every Friday going from Oh Fuck! to Hell Yes! Here is our extremely effective meeting process:

  1. AGENDA: Anyone can create or add to the agenda. We do this in a shared google doc that everyone can edit. The doc contains ALL of the agendas with the most recent at the top. The agenda is usually created the night before or the morning of each meeting. We’re agile and quick so it wouldn’t make sense to create an agenda further in advance than that.
  2. SCHEDULE: Meetings are always at 10am on Fridays at Cohere and last 1.5 hours. The person who is late has to get coffee for everyone else.FullSizeRender (1)
  3. AIRING OF GRIEVANCES: At the start of each meeting we get our feelings out. Yep, you read that right. If anyone is frustrated or flabbergasted or just plain giddy, we talk it out BEFORE we task. This step is key. Due to the nature of our structure, we can’t be together or even talk every day so it’s important to make a real connection to one another before we start doling out chores.
  4. ORDER: We go through the agenda in order. Always. We rarely add anything to the agenda during the meeting.
  5. TIME: Never, ever, ever put an estimated time for discussion on an agenda item. This makes no sense.
  6. COMPLETION: We complete any tasks that come up IN THE MEETING. Example, if Julie needs to email someone about a radio interview then Shane and I talk about a graphic design task or similar. This allows everyone to be productive during the entire meeting, which is something I never got to experience in corporate life.
  7. DELEGATE: If any tasks remain, they are completed directly after the meeting ends or get shifted to me (Angel) if possible since I have the most spare time to complete things. Shane will often do heavy duty graphic design tasks outside of the meeting as it’s part of his creative process.

So there. Now you know how we make the most out of our 12 hours/month together.

Does your team have an unconventional meeting process? Tell us all about it so we can steal your tips for our next meeting.

Help Us Make This Coworking Blog Better!

Coherians, we need your help.

As you may (or may not) know, we publish a blog post here once a week, usually on Monday mornings. This is something we’ve done ever since Cohere opened its doors. In the beginning, blog posts were about what coworking is, the benefits it brings to your life and business, and how to be a successful member of a coworking community.

As the community has grown and matured, we’ve added in topics about challenges in the freelancer/entrepreneur lifestyle and how to tackle them, featured member profiles, and insight about how to nurture your creativity.

As we enter our third year, we want to know what you’d like to see on this blog in the coming months. Do you have any questions about coworking, freelancing, business, work/life balance that we can address? Would you like more member info (like the interviews we do) or something different? Likewise, if you’d like to share a tip, experience, or topic and feel like writing a guest post about it, we’d love that too!

If you’ve got a suggestion, question, or idea, please don’t hesitate to share it. You can do so by mentioning it to Angel or Kristin, commenting on this blog post, or leaving a comment on the Cohere Facebook page.

Thanks!

Image via hashir/Flickr

Social Media: The Productive Freelancer’s Arch Enemy

It’s Monday, the first day of a new week. Although we freelancers tend to work 24/7, most of us can (and SHOULD!) eke out a little time for fun and family over the weekend. So today’s the first day back to a full-plate of work. We start off the week with the best of intentions, we’ve all got an enemy out there who wants to kill our productivity. No, it’s not a competing firm or terrible client, it’s that oh-so-innocent-looking social media MONSTER. It lurks in our bookmarks, our browser history, and for some, our literal muscle memory: we open, check, and browse social media websites constantly.

Unfortunately, sometimes social media is part of our legitimate work, so the temptation to flush hours down the drain clicking through photo albums and sharing clever memes is almost too much to bear. If you’re trying to make the most of your eight hour day, the key is to work smarter, not get up earlier, and smart work begins with eliminating time sucks like Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram, and all the rest of ’em.

Scroll through the infographic below for shocking stats about how much your social media obsession could be costing your business, and then check out our list of tips for shoving this beast back in its cage.

Social Media Monster [Infographic]

Shocked by how much time (and money) you’re wasting? Here are some tips from Apartment Therapy about how to avoid the siren song of social media:

1. If you use Google Chrome, you can install StayFocusd , a simple browser extension which lets you set time limits on how long you spend on certain sites.

2. Clean house on your Friends/Followers list. Fewer unnecessary connections means less distracting junk showing up in your feeds and streams. Don’t want to delete loose connections? Consider using some of Facebook’s built in feed settings  to control how much you see.

3. Consolidate. Flipboard ( for Android , iOS ) lets you consolidate a digest of social media sources, prioritizing what it sees as big stories (based on your social graph). Bringing together content from Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and even Google+, Flipboard is a great way to get a quick dose of stories from all the social sites you frequent without hopping all over the web.

Got other tips for avoiding the social media time-suck? Share them in a comment!

Infographic Courtesy of Red e App

5 Easy Ways To Be More Productive Before Lunch

productivity-before-lunch

Did you know the hours between waking up and eating lunch represent your best chance for getting stuff done? You might claim to be a night owl, but studies have shown that we’re at our most creative early in the morning. Of course, we all burn the midnight oil every now and then, but it’s really the a.m. hours where we bring our best and brightest ideas to the table.

If you’re the type of person who needs 3 cups of coffee just to assemble complete sentences, this could be a problem. Getting up and motivated in the morning isn’t easy, especially if you’re out of practice. Recently time management expert Laura Vanderkam published a short list of tips for making the most of your mornings. If you’d like to turn the pre-noon hours into super productive work time, these tactics could help get you on your way to building morning habits that stick.

1. Track Your Time

Vanderkam says the key to using your time more wisely is knowing how you’re spending it now. Write down what you’re doing as often as you can throughout the entire day. You may notice that you’re pushing certain things to the end of the day that would be better accomplished at the top of the list.

2. Picture the Perfect Morning

“After you know how you’re spending your time, ask yourself what a great morning would look like,” advises Vanderkam. Kicking off the morning with a few activities that enrich both personal and professional growth will set the tone for a positive, energized day. Go for a run, read that article you’ve been meaning to get to. Strategize, dream. Allow yourself to have big ideas while your mind is still fresh.

3. Think Through the Logistics

If you fill the morning hours with important activities you’ll crowd out things that are more time intensive than they need to be, writes Vanderkam. Think about mapping out a morning schedule that will give you time for personal and professional development. As for the mornings themselves, what would make your ritual easier? Do you need to set your easel next to your bed? Can you find a more cheerful alarm clock or one you can’t turn off so easily?

4. Build The Habit

According to Vanderkam, this is the most important step. She advises choosing one new habit at a time to introduce and using external  treats and rewards to keep yourself motivated until the habits stick.

5. Tune Up as Necessary

Mornings are a gift. They come around once every 24 hours offering us a clean slate, a chance to do better than we did the day before. “The hopeful hours before most people eat breakfast are too precious to be blown on semiconscious activities,” writes Vanderkam. “You can do a lot with those hours. Whenever I’m tempted to say I don’t have time for something, I remind myself that if I wanted to get up early, I could. These hours are available to all of us if we choose to use them.”

What tactics help you get the most out of your mornings? Share them in a comment!

Image via orcmid/Flickr

The Cohere Quick-Start Guide For New Coworkers

New Cohere Pink Room

Cohere is preparing for it’s official launch at the new location, 418 Howes, in downtown Fort Collins. We soft launched last week, and since then, members new and old have stopped by to check out the hot pink desks, expanded kitchen and lunching area, and general good vibes that the new building has to offer.

The official grand re-opening of Cohere is February 1, so if you’ve been thinking about requesting a free day pass to check out the world of coworking for the first time, that would be a good day to do it!

To some the concept of a shared workspace might seem bizarre, and to others it comes naturally. It’s true that working in close proximity with other mobile professionals might take some getting used to in the beginning. It’s also important to note that what makes coworking at Cohere so special isn’t the location (or color) of the desks, but the talented freelancers and small business owners that will inhabit them on a daily basis.

In the spirit of welcoming you along on this coworking adventure, I’ve rounded up a few classic posts that examine the best ways to acclimate to and participate in our community. (It will also demonstrate in a nutshell why you should always read the weekly Cohere blog post). As always, please don’t hesitate to ask a Cohere staff member or veteran member if you’ve got questions about anything!

Be More Than A Seat Filler

There are some universal attributes that apply to coworking in any setting, whether it’s a massive space in New York City or a tiny community in rural Virginia. The importance of community engagement and participation is one of these universal truths. Basically, the more you put in to your coworking experience, the more you’re going to get out of it. Period. This post includes quotes from current Cohere members about “getting what you give.”

How To Avoid Fragmentation In The Presence Of Private Offices

Private offices are a new feature of the new Cohere. In the past, everyone always worked in the same room. Without conscious effort from both office-dwellers and flex desk-sitters, there’s a risk our community could become fragmented. Isolation is bad for both groups and defeats the purpose of coworking. This post contains a quick list of reminders that I hope will help us maintain the level of communication and collaboration we’ve enjoyed in the past.

How To Collaborate With Other Freelancers

With the proper preparation and foresight, collaborating with fellow coworking members can reduce stress, improve the quality of your product, and enrich your life as a community member. This post points out some things to keep in mind when looking for a collaborator.

Sharing Your Work And (Co)Working To Share

The coworking movement is becoming huge, but it’s only one part of something even bigger–something we’ve talked about before called “collaborative consumption.” Learn more in this post.

Why Failure Is The Best Part Of Coworking

A community where everyone keeps their failures to themselves is shallow and uninteresting. It’s way more fun to be real. Life as an independent is messy and complex, and all we’ve got is each other! Here at Cohere, we want to see the roughest draft, hear the first/worst idea, and feel the pain of the client you knew you shouldn’t take. This posts explains why you should always show’n’tell us about your hot mess.

Why A Coworking Space Is Important To The Local Economy

Most people can imagine what shared office space looks like. It’s harder to understand the larger economic benefits of participating in such a space until you experience it first hand. If you’re on the fence about joining a coworking space (or just recently joined!), this post lists some big picture positive impacts to think about.

Is there an ancient Cohere blog post that really made your day? Share the link or title in the comments below!

Tips From The Coworking Community: Welcoming New Members

Welcome New Coworkers to Your Coworking Space

In our casual culture, the art of welcoming someone into a new situation seems to have gone the way of the newspaper or the hand-written note: it’s nice, but who has the time?

What we must remember as a global community is that while coworking may be as familiar as sending a text message, the idea of shared workspaces is still odd and sometimes intimidating for new or potential members. Since we’re all interested in growing our coworking spaces into sustainable communities and businesses, it seems that retaining new members plays a big part in our collective success.

I started wondering how that “first impression” of coworking plays a part in new members feeling like they belong. Are we missing an opportunity to create a lasting relationship by assuming that people can figure it out themselves? I asked 10 coworking space owners around the country to share their onboarding process for new members, and thoughts about whether or not it played a roll in new members becoming permanent members. Here’s a summary of what they said–I hope it will help us all be become better hosts and communities!

First, all of the space owners or managers that replied acknowledged that they had an onboarding process, though some were more formal than others. Alex Hillman of Indy Hall said, “the only theme I can speak to concretely is the importance of having an “Indy Hall moment” (IHM). It varies from person to person, and usually involves making a personal (non-professional) connection with at least one other member. When somebody goes longer here without having an IHM, the possibility of them not sticking around long-term increases. Looking at our last 6 months of member exits, the only people we’ve really lost were people who never got a chance to “buy in”, which is the main result of the IHM.”

I think most of us can agree that there was a moment when something unexpectedly cool or helpful occurred while we were coworking. This “moment” helped us decide that coworking was something good, and that we wanted more of it in our life. Of course, you have to feel comfortable enough in the space to reach out or participate in that moment, which is why there needs to be a process for encouraging new members to “take off their coat and stay a while.”

Liz Elam from Link Coworking shared her process for getting new members settled in, which included everything from a welcome folder to help them get acquainted with the space and surrounding area to the creation of a member profile on their website.

“Once they have the folder in their hands we ring a bell and everyone claps, whoops etc.,” said Elam. “I do think it makes a difference.  They feel like they’re part of something and official.” Elam also takes the time to introduce new members around and when a few join at one time she hosts a happy hour/mixer so current members can connect with new members. “I also recommend that they introduce themselves on Mavenlink (we use their networking feature for members to communicate) and toss out a question for members to ask them,” she said.

Most of us have member profiles on our websites, but as Craig Baute of Creative Density pointed out, making a literal member wall is an easy to spark conversation and make the community aware of new members.

“The member wall [has] fun facts about people and what they do. I notice several people drift over to it once a week or so to see if any new people are part of Creative Density. I also announce new members on the white board and remind people to give them a high-five. Overall, members pay attention and notice when new members are listed and seek them out so that this helps introduce people into the community.”

Baute also had an interesting suggestion about assigned seating for the first few days of membership:

” I recommend that new members spend a day at our high-top table where conversations usually flow and people quickly build relationships. Most members do spend a day or two at the high-top before moving off to the larger coworking floor with low tables and they end up being part of the community quicker because of it. If they don’t, I join them for half a day in the room that they choose. I figure everyone is pretty comfortable with me since I’m here all day and I might spark a conversation or connection.”

Although the general consensus seems to be that yes, having a process–however quirky–for welcoming new members makes a big difference in how quickly they become comfortable in the community, it doesn’t guarantee that they will fall in love and stay forever.

“As I think about the real life examples of the people who have done well and not so well here, I’m increasingly of the belief that the work we do in the beginning is less relevant than the person and their needs and expectations,” said Tony Bacigalupo of New Work City. “I think the onboarding is critical as a way of informing and empowering the people who will thrive and contribute, while it is less valuable to those who are more or less destined to not get much out of the experience in the first place.”

So if you’re planning new member soiree’s but people still drop out after a month or two: like we’ve said before, coworking isn’t for everyone, and its important for your community to coalesce organically. Don’t force it, factilitate it.

One key to truly facilitating a welcoming atmosphere is getting the rest of the community involved. You can hold a new member mixer, but if no one attends, it won’t feel that welcoming. You can introduce new members out loud in the middle of the space, but if everyone immediately replaces their head phones or returns to their private conversations, it’ll make the new kid want to bail as quickly as possible.

Sit down with some of your permanent members, and get them talking about their “aha” moment in the coworking community. Ask them who or what made that impression on them, and then get them thinking about how they could help make that happen for a new member. Encourage people to leave their go-to desk for a seat next to a new member; find out what their favorite lunch spot is and organize a group lunch; or simply make a point to ask them (by name) for feed-back when bouncing ideas around the room.

Also, if you or a staff member isn’t always there to welcome new members personally, make sure your community feels empowered to explain the little things that make a big difference on the first day: i.e. the grand tour, how to get online, guidelines for conference room usage, hours, printing, online resources, phone calls, keys/how to lock up, etc.

And of course, we’re all still figuring this out. There is no perfect combination of actions that will guarantee a new member will stay forever. “There’s a natural barrier to joining a new group and it’s important to overcome that and welcome people in,” said Jacob Sayles of Office Nomads. “I also think it’s easy to get comfortable and not approach each new member as something new because ‘new members’ come in all the time. Consistency supposedly helps that out but we are still working out the best ways of doing all this.”

On that note, let’s hear some ideas!

What was your AHA moment when you joined your coworking community?

How can coworking space owners/managers create the best environment for new members to have their own “coworking moment”?

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The only spam we like is fried. We assume you feel the same.