Our friends over at Office Nomads published this blog post and it was too good not to share.
A Love Letter to Indie Coworking Community Cultivators:
Dear indie coworking community cultivators,
I see you. I know what your days look like:
8:00 Arrive. Pour a warm drink into your favorite mug. Show newest member James how to make coffee. Hello. Hello. Oh, it’s Simone’s birthday! Make a note – go get cookies later. How is Darrell? He’s been going through a divorce and you’ve been making sure to check in with him each day to be sure he’s ok. Help Dylan connect to the printer. Catch up on billing for a little bit in between conversations. See a group of members looking at Amy’s new product demo. Snap a photo for the Instagram account. When was the last time you sent out a newsletter? Add it to your list for the day. It’s 11:00 already? Walk around and remind people that member lunch is at Noon. Respond to emails. Give a visitor a tour. Run Jamie through her new member orientation. OMG we need more forks again.
12:00 Lunch. Catching up on all the things. Kids have colds. In-laws in town for a long weekend. Holiday travel plans. Has Jim met Carolyn yet? They’re both science writers. Marketing struggles. New job offers. Sean got engaged! We should really get together for happy hour again soon. Plans begin.
1:00 That blog post you’ve been trying to write for three weeks. Mail delivery arrives. Sign for the packages. Bring that envelope that definitely looks like a check back to Amanda – you know she’s been waiting for it for weeks. High-fives. That was it! While you’re walking around, push in chairs. Pick up a stray cup. Pull non-recyclables out of the recycling can and make a mental note that you need to keep reminding the members that those things should go in the garbage.
3:00 Grocery store for cookies. Remember we’re low on half and half and could use a fresh set of whiteboard markers. Back to the space. Cookies and singing. Hugs. Blog post again, slow progress. Get lost on Facebook for a while – great discussion on the Coworking Content Alliance today. While you’re at it, when was the last time you checked to be sure you were following all the members on Twitter? Update list and get lost more when you start seeing all the cool things your members are sharing.
4:30 Critical conversation with members about Grape Nuts. It is a fine cereal. It is a terrible cereal. Is it cereal if you only eat it on yogurt? How has it been around for so long? Who still eats it? You still eat it?! Doesn’t it break your teeth?
5:00 Time to close up for the day. Say goodbye as members leave. Tidy up the space for the next day. Lock the front door. Bid those who are staying later than you a good evening. Remind them to turn off the lights if they’re the last to leave.
As you ride the bus home, you think “Did I actually do anything today?” It feels like the list of things to do only got longer. It’s like everything happened and nothing happened all at once. But there was coffee. And cookies. Laughs. Learning. Printer troubles. And we’ll do it all again – or something altogether different – tomorrow.
Here’s the thing, indie coworking friends from near and far. I know as coworking grows and gets commoditized in ways you couldn’t even fathom that you are worried about your future. You wonder if your one space with your very narrow budget can last. Let me let you in on a secret that you should hold close to your heart on the days that are hard:
The most important work you do is the work you do every day to foster a safe, comfortable, and supportive community. The members in front of you (not the potential ones “out there” waiting for you) and the community they help create are what makes your coworking community stand out from the rest. The connections you have with one another are your north star. Those days where you felt like you got nothing done because you were talking with members all day? Those are probably the days you are doing the most work to keep your business strong and healthy. And when new members come to your doors they’ll see the love and energy that is created in your space and they’ll want to stay.
P.S. Don’t worry what the big coworking giants are doing.
P.P.S. Don’t worry what the big coworking giants are doing.
P.P.P.S. One more time: don’t worry what the big coworking giants are doing. Because you know what they want more than anything else (other than $$$)? They want people to think they’re like you. That’s why they’re using the word coworking. But their size and business model keeps them from being able to do the community building work that coworking is known for. They simply have too many moving parts to stay focused on that secret I just told you. They’ll tell you that they do it, but I assure you they can’t do it. So you do it. You’re awesome at it. And don’t worry about them. I know who will still be standing 10 years from now. <3
Big thank you to Susan at Office Nomads for sharing this with the co-working community.