The cornerstone of what makes BizDojo great is its community, and the sense of place that our residents have in it. So when residents depart the Dojo for whatever reason - their business outgrows the space, they accept a job somewhere else, they relocate cities - the loss isn’t simply a financial one felt by our business, it’s a human one felt by everyone who works out of the BizDojo.
Maintaining those connections with departed residents is something we’ve worked really hard to address over the last year. Sometimes it’s easy, like when a business moves literally to the other side of the block and they have close relationships with existing residents… or it can be more difficult, when it’s an individual who used to commute a fair distance to the Dojo and perhaps doesn’t have specific imperatives to come visit anymore.
There are the obvious strategies: set up a segment of your mailing list dedicated to ‘Friends’ and populate it with all the people you deem to be part of your wider community, keep departed residents in your resident Facebook groups, and invite them to your community events. We run a Friday Favourites on the last Friday of every month, where old members are invited back into the BizDojo to hotdesk for the day (at no charge, of course) and are encouraged to hang around for Friday drinks. We’re also in the fortunate position of having a bar and live music venue across the road that’s connected to our business, so we have plenty of scope for the social side of things with our wider community.
All of those things focus on the ways we, as a coworking space, can continue to provide our services and other benefits to departed residents. But there’s another equally important perspective to take: how can we help those individuals to continue to contribute to the coworking community? How do we generate meaningful involvement in the BizDojo for those people? One of the key ways to do this is to keep making use of those peoples’ knowledge, experience, and skills - in other words, the things that made them a valuable addition to the community to begin with. Each One Teach One is a casual speaker / workshop series we run in Auckland that features community members sharing a particular knowledge base or experience over morning tea or afternoon beverages; keeping departed residents involved not just as participants but as presenters is key. I also find it extremely valuable to keep our departed residents and wider community in mind as part of the pool of resources we can draw from as connectors when other Dojo members are looking for help.
The key point here is that if we acknowledge that community is defined by peoples’ sense of belonging and of being valued by others, then we can understand that it’s actually less about the services we provide to those individuals and more about what they are able to contribute to the BizDojo. By opening up space for people to offer their knowledge, experience, skillset, social presence, or emotional support to the community, we allow people to feel valued and an intrinsic part of the fabric of the BizDojo… and while that’s often the slightly harder road to take for a Community Team, it’s also the more meaningful one.
Sarin Moddle is the BizDojo Community Manager for Auckland.Follow @sarinmods on Twitter