Coworking was never about desks and wifi.
I didn’t foresee a global pandemic being the catalyst to prove this to the world, but here we are.
As cities around the world have shut down to slow the spread of COVID-19, some coworking space operators face existential challenges.
They’ve been forced to get real about what it means to run—and be part of—a coworking community.
True to the scrappy, innovative, collaborative, never-say-die nature of the coworking movement, operators around the world are pivoting, creating, connecting and finding new ways to serve their members and extended communities.
Virtual coworking has emerged as a powerful way to keep communities connected, generate revenue, increase local impact, and attract new market segments to coworking.
From lunch and learns, happy hours and workshops, to book clubs, worksprints and everything in-between, virtual coworking is whatever space operators and their communities want it to be. Zoom is a popular tool, but people are using Crowdcast, Slack, Facebook and whatever else works to connect.
Here are 25 virtual coworking ideas for workspace communities:
Steal them, remix them, make them your own, and share them back into the community. We’re depending on you to keep the coworking movement moving.
1. Worksprints: Gather a few people in Zoom, set a time for 20-30 minutes and do worksprints together. Short pomodoro sprints are a surprisingly powerful way to stay focused and get a lot done in a short time.
2. Coffee Break: One of my favorite parts of coworking is chatting with people around the coffee machine. You can recreate some of that spontaneous, casual banter with virtual coffee breaks.
3. Accountability Check-ins: Having members share what they’re working on adds a nice bit of peer accountability. These can be standalone updates or be incorporated into a worksprint.
4. Lunch and Learns: Open up a Zoom room at noon and ask someone to share information or insights around a specific topic. Voila, you have a Lunch and Learn.
5. Expert Talks: Your local community is full of experts. Tap one of them (or a handful of them) to give virtual a talk to your members.
6. Panel Discussions: Round up some people, pick a topic they can all talk about with some expertise (or not), and you have the makings for a nice panel discussion.
7. Workshops: Help your members learn a new skill, or boost their understanding with a virtual workshop.
8. Happy Hour: Pick a time, invite your members to bring their favorite drink, and see where the conversations go.
9. Mastermind Sessions: The best coworking communities collaborate and help each other solve problems. Virtual mastermind sessions give members an opportunity to ask each other for input around one challenge or opportunity. Tip: Make time for everyone to share and receive input.
10. Celebrations: Birthday parties, anniversaries, award announcements, work wins—I’ve seen a lot of virtual celebrations in the last few months. Get creative and find fun ways to engage—and honor—your members.
11. Guided Meditation: Do you have someone in your community who could do a short guided meditation for your members? Invite them to connect with your community via Zoom. I’ve done a few of these and they’ve been surprisingly pleasant.
12. Book Club: Read a book, chat about a book with your community members, pick another book. Repeat.
13. Book Reports: Remember the book reports you had to do in grade school? Invite your members to give a report on one of their favorite entrepreneurial, business or productivity books.
14. Talent Show: Your members may have secret talents. Give them an opportunity to shine with a virtual talent show.
15. Music: Musicians, artists and DJs are putting out amazing streaming content right now, including concerts, dance parties and listening parties. Invite some of your musically-inclined members to share their skills with their community.
16. Stretch Breaks: Working from home means a lot less moving around. Schedule regular stretch breaks for your community. Short 10-15 minute stretch and check-in sessions can go a long way.
17. Work from Home Support: Working from home is challenging. Find ways to offer virtual work from home support for your members—whether recommended tools and resources, strategy sessions, fail wails, mental health breaks, whatever.
18. Public Coworking: Consider making some of your virtual events open to the public as a way to educate your neighbors about your space and invite people into your coworking community. If you do, add your events to the included.co list of public virtual coworking events.
19. Watch Parties: Gather the community for a virtual movie night, TED Talk session, tv show, or whatever works. You could use Netflix or screenshare via Zoom. (What other tools could be used for this? LMK in the comments.)
20. Day-long and Multi-day Events: We’re collectively stretching the limits of Zoom. I’ve been in gatherings with hundreds of participants (including the quickly growing Coworking Convos), have participated in the GCUC Virtual Unconference, watched a multi-day summit and more. Don’t be afraid to think big with your virtual offerings.
21. Game Night: Game nights are so fun and they can definitely translate to virtual, depending on the format. I’ve heard that House Party is good for games. LMK if you have other tips.
22. Kids Offerings: The biggest challenge my friends with kids seem to be facing is keeping the kids focused so they can get work done. To that end, I’ve seen a handful of virtual events designed for kids pop up. Favorites include virtual storytime and show & tell sessions.
23. Yoga and Wellness Classes: One of my friends is a yoga teacher and she’s been hosting virtual classes and streaming workout videos. If wellness is a focus in your space, who can you get to lead some classes for your members? Get creative and, if nothing else, you can screenshare a YouTube video.
24. Virtual Breakfast or Lunch: Invite your members to grab some food, jump into Zoom, and connect over a meal. Easy peasy.
25. Morning Check-in: I miss walking into my home coworking space and saying good morning with whoever is around. I’ve seen this morning check-in recreated virtually pretty nicely. I suggest keeping it short so people can get on to their work, but it’s a good way to keep the community close.
ProTip: Have you told your local press about your pivot to virtual coworking? This is a fantastic time to reach out to them and share your story. My press release mini-course will show you how to request media coverage like a pro.
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