👋 Clubhouse and Coworking – what we’re hearing.

A few months ago, buzz began growing about an all-new type of social network app coming out of Silicon Valley.

Although only in very restricted (or kinda-VIP-only) beta with 5,000 users Clubhouse nabbed a $12M Series A in May 2020 to build-out a ‘voice-only social network’.

With massive Zoom-fatigue and a-few-too-many social media channels to deal with, I kinda ignored it. After all, we all had a slight office-usage crisis to deal with.

However, recently they opened up the app to even more users, and I got invited to check it out on January 5th this year.

Today (24 January) a new round of funding was announced too, with a promise to make the platform more accessible, stable, supported and the funding of a new Creator Grand Program.

What follows is my thoughts after almost 20 days on the platform. It includes some possible opportunities for coworking spaces on the platform, current challenges with the platform as it stands. 

I’m also joined by two coworking leaders, Shervonne Cherry and Iris Kavanagh, who share their insights from using the app in creative ways over the last few weeks.

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A primer, or 'What is Clubhouse'?

In the tech-world the app defines itself as a ‘voice-only social network’, but what does that mean to people who focus on community over tech every day?

I like to visualize the app as a long corridor of meeting rooms, with each room having a discussion on a particular topic that you can walk into and listen to (and participate in).

For me, Clubhouse is the antidote to my current social media weariness. With no “likes”, DMs, or comments, no video or other distractions, I can connect in real-time with like minded people, learn, share and grow. As a radio nerd, I especially appreciate the audio only format. I feel like I’m getting podcasts and thoughtful “talk radio” in real-time, with the ability to interact and connect.

Iris Kavanagh (@iriskavanagh)

I’ve been calling Clubhouse a “Conference in your Pocket” - With COVID we have not been able to attend any in-person conferences in months but I still vividly remember the energy felt while meeting new colleagues and hearing gems from the stage. CH has been the closest thing to that feeling since our lives changed in 2020.

Shervonne Cherry (@shervonne)

Rooms.

The app allows anyone to host a ‘room’ or call. These rooms can be open to any users on the app, just those you follow on the app, or closed just to those who you invite. (Rooms can also be started immediately, or scheduled for a future time).

Rooms are the whole app, and network. There’s no private messaging, likes, votes. (You can launch private Rooms with anyone who follows you though).

It’s also what makes the app ‘feel’ so different.

The “norms”, expectations and nuances of social media platforms are removed and you can create actual connections with people - Which is directly tied to our role in building community.

Shervonne Cherry (@shervonne)

And the wide-breadth of rooms allows for users of the app to dip into new conversations and communities.

I have explored many realms and connected with many folx I feel immediate kinship with. It’s almost like being at GCUC and being in a room full of coworking folx, feeling like I belong with all of these people who just get me.

Iris Kavanagh (@iriskavanagh)

There are a lot of recurring “intro to clubhouse” rooms constantly happening in the app, so it’s pretty fun to start learning.

👉 This intro guide could also useful.

Followers

You can follow other users to be notified about when they join or start rooms. 

You can also invite users who follow you into rooms that might be of interest to them. Going back to my corridor analogy, consider it going and bringing a friend into a room that could help them, or where they can be of assistance to another participant. 

Clubs

Clubs are most similar to ‘groups’ on other social media platforms. They’re usually interest-based, and can be used to group calls around related topics.

👉 Learn more about clubs here

Coworking opportunities in Clubhouse.

As with any new platform or medium, we always ask ourselves how it could be used to enrich, support or expand the values of coworking.

(Clubhouse creates opportunities in...) Educating people about the coworking industry, as well as connecting with prospect partners and clients.

Shervonne Cherry (@shervonne)

But it is still so new. With changing rules, processes and massively growing numbers. 

Many of us are still figuring out what works best, what needs to be created from scratch, and what can be brought in from traditional coworking programming.

I’m still figuring this out. I think programming is one. Being able to offer real time programming that can bring more experts than one might have in their space’s immediate community is valuable. It renews the “Lunch and Learn” types of events we often plan for our members.

Iris Kavanagh (@iriskavanagh)

Personally, I like to think the platform could be a great way to bring coworking operators into conversations with parallel industries like creators, freelancing and real-estate.

It could also be a great way to build local brand or thought leadership, by engaging in conversations about local business issues, challenges and discussions.

There’s already a growing number of ‘virtual coworking’ sessions happening every day. This could either be a challenge to virtual programming by traditional coworking spaces, or a huge opportunity. 

I don’t think there is anything that will replace the experience of a real life, in person, community based workspace. As we say in coworking, people come for the space and stay for the community. Clubhouse does bring me a feeling of connection and belonging. But I cannot find my people as easily within the current ux/ui as I’d like to, and I’m still working in my jammies’s from home, hanging with my chickens, and talking too much to the UPS delivery folx instead of taking a lunch break with friends and colleagues, heading out to patronize a local establishment together and creating multi-dimensional relationships. Physical coworking spaces are still highly relevant.

Iris Kavanagh (@iriskavanagh)

Absolutely does not replace the need or value of working within a business community. I see it as reinforcing, and not replacing because as humans, we will still need that personal connections to be effective.

Shervonne Cherry (@shervonne)

 

Further reading: Cat Johnson also shared an intro into Clubhouse for Coworking and flex spaces on AllWork.

How to get started.

I definitely would recommend grabbing your username, and participating in some calls as you formulate your plan to create value for your members or potential customers, partners or collaborators. 

Join the waitlist…..you never know who is already on the app who may move you to the front of the waitlist :)

Shervonne Cherry (@shervonne)

Jump on joinclubhouse.com to grab your personal username and wait for an invite for a friend. In the meantime, get your profile ready and practice listening. It’s a great skill we can all afford to strengthen.

Iris Kavanagh (@iriskavanagh)

And there’s definitely things I’d keep in mind regarding what NOT to do.

Don’t try to recreate the experience people have within the walls of our spaces. Clubhouse is a new way to build relationships and connections across the world and is opening the doors for new ways to connect. Do something different.

Iris Kavanagh (@iriskavanagh)

CH is such a wild west right now and the use case for it is still being shaped. I would say: Don’t be a jerk.

Shervonne Cherry (@shervonne)

Current challenges facing the app.

I leave this section to last, as I do believe in the power of audio-only conversations in the currently video-call-overloaded world of work we currently live in.

However there are a few challenges we see with the platform, that are probably all being addressed by the talented team at Clubhouse. They’re shared to help round the picture of the platform’s opportunity.

Join us every Friday on Clubhouse.

Looking for a good coworking Room to get started in? 

Each Friday we host a Room to discuss the contents and trends explored in the ThisWeekInCoworking newsletter.

You can use the thisweekincoworking.com/clubhouse link to get the Room link each week.

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