How can a coworking space build the size of its community, provide flexible membership options that suit people’s needs and ensure a diverse range of skills are always present? Why by providing Hot Desks of course! In this blog former Host at The Melting Pot Cleo talks about why you should make a special effort to look after your Hot Deskers today…
I started out working with The Melting Pot as an Engagement and Events Coordinator in 2016, responsible for hosting the space, building community and generally making sure everyone that crossed the threshold felt welcome and important - it’s nice to feel important. Over my time in that role I learnt a lot about the dynamics of a space and how many ways you can put people off. Now I’m working remotely for a coworking space in other coworking spaces while our lovely community adjust to not directing their, very important, questions at me.
Something I’ve found jarring at several other spaces I’ve visited recently is the almost impenetrable division between the Hot Desks and Fixed Desks. At The Melting Pot if you’re a Member, you’re a Member – even if you’re in the cheap seats. Sometimes people choose Hot Desking for budgetary reasons and sometimes it’s because they’re more convenient when juggling multiple jobs or travel between places. Choosing a Hot Desk over a Fixed Desk does not mean a Member is not (you’ve guessed it) important!
Hot Desking is coworking, and we’d be daft not to see Hot Deskers as the back bone of our community. Of course it’s simpler when you use the one full time person + one desk = space full formula, but with a happy cohort of Hot Deskers you can invite significantly more people into the fold. This is a massive benefit for your full time members as they have more lovely people to meet and more skills in their community to tap into. And for the folks running the space it’s more people advocating for you and more dosh for your business.
Hot Deskers are around less and this can make it harder for them to integrate into the community. Here are a few tips on giving them a helping hand and making them feel IMPORTANT:
My number one tip is give your members a proper induction. One thorough conversation with a captive (Member) audience allows you to explain all the rules and tools they needs to get the most out of the space. And it saves you thousands of slightly uncomfortable conversations a week where you have to explain how to book a room here, not to sit there and not to leave dirty mugs anywhere. From the other side of the desk it means your Members are clear on how to use their coworking space and how to make the most of perks like your events programme.
Remember their name and a few things about them and what they do. This’ll be easier than you think if you’re making authentic connections with your Members because you care about them and their work.
Introduce Members to each other and keep an eye out for the folks that are new to the space or who don’t seem to be chatting to anyone. I’m not suggesting you interrupt someone in “headphones on, head down mode” to encourage them to have a chat with an embarrassed looking new Member. But when you’re around the kettle make sure everyone is on first name terms.
Try to make the space self-explanatory so it’s clear what's for them and what's not. It’s comforting to know where you stand on the tea and coffee supply/access to rooms/participating in events etc without having to ask. I, as anyone at TMP will tell you, would advocate for putting signs everywhere. Everywhere. Laminated ones.
Another one on space, don’t do anything to unnecessarily separate the Hot Deskers from the Fixed Deskers, let them mingle! You can check in regularly to make sure there aren’t any unforeseen problems, but the benefits will outweigh the pitfalls. Of course, you can have private team offices and quiet areas, but arbitrary division based on level of membership should be avoided if possible - our Hot Deskers have been very vocal about this!
Invite your Hot Deskers to your community building and learning events personally. This can mean the world to someone, particularly when they’re new to the community - it makes the,m feel wanted and included. If you’re perpetually pushed for time (same) then just aim for having a chat with everyone in the space an hour before an event starts or send a mail merge to all your new members about an event happening in a couple of days. Don’t worry TMP Members all my emails are hand written and unique…
Include your Hot Deskers in all your online communications, add them to your Member mailing list, Slack channel, Nexudus community board – whatever you use include your whole community. This way it takes no more effort to engage everyone at once leading to more attendees at Member events, more input on problems shared by members and more conversation within the community.
Remember that the number one reason people leave a coworking space is because they don’t feel connected to their fellow Members. This list is by no means exhaustive but it does work! Our 2018 Social Impact Report showed that 84% of our Members were Hot Deskers and 94% of all our Members felt that they were part of TMP’s community. What are you waiting for? Go make a Hot Desker feel important!
If you want more specific insight into building community in your coworking space check out the Coworking Accelerator
Cleo Goodman is Communications and Social Impact Manager at our mother organisation The Melting Pot.
Cleo started off at TMP as a host, community building, managing the events venues and running the learning events programme. Now, she manages our communications and measures the social impact of coworking at TMP and our incubation programme for social entrepreneurs Good Ideas.