How Virtual Town Halls can help coordinate and connect coworking communities.

Coworking spaces are designed, developed and run to support local individuals and  businesses. 

But in the current economic climate, where the only certainty is uncertainty, trying to coordinate messaging (let alone a community) seems near-impossible. Especially if attempted without member input or feedback.

Katharine from Alkaloid Networks decided to host a virtual Town Hall to let her community coordinate what happens next, when and who is responsible to whom. 

Below is a quick 5-question interview about the process, and what other coworking space operators can learn from hosting Town Halls during scary and stressful times.

Cover Photo taken by Garey Gomez, an Alkaloid community member.

What was the motivation for hosting a virtual Town Hall, and what differentiated it from other virtual coworking events?

As some members started to return, it was obvious that many were not ready to venture out. I knew it wasn’t about this community space but ANY space where there were others not within their immediate circle. 

This event was very different since it was really initiated by members; members that were coming in and wanted to honestly communicate with the community-at-large about how to keep this a safe place to work (as much as is realistically possible).

During the call, you checked in with your members and shared openly. What came out of this conversation?

Everyone on the call was frank about how they were feeling. It’s a mix for us all right now: fear, anxiety, optimism. I’m in the same headspace right now too. 

By starting the conversation in this way, we could move to more purposeful and meaningful action. The gentleman that led the call did an excellent job of gathering the desires of the community to create a consensus statement.

How can other operators find out more about this member-led letter?

You can read our full blog post here, which also includes a link to a recording from the call and to our member-to-member statement.

Putting yourself, and your business, in such a position must feel extremely vulnerable. What convinced you to take the plunge?

I’ve always been completely transparent with my members. In late March, I openly said that this community space depended on their dues and gave them a choice to continue to pay if they wanted to invest in the future of the community. 

I’ve been so very grateful for the continued tremendous support and love. I knew that a call like this would be no different. Even those members that were on the call and won’t be returning soon said that this made them feel so connected (something they had missed dearly).

What would you advise other operators to consider regarding hosting their own town halls in the coming weeks?

Ideally, you want the call to be facilitated by a member.

While you want to be present as part of the shared experience, let the members drive the discussion. 

The facilitator should have an idea of where you want to end up so they can guide that discussion. 

And finally, let your members decide how they want to communicate expectations to the rest of the community that wasn’t present for the call.

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