The glorious renaissance of community-led coworking

The glorious renaissance of community-led coworking

It was a crisp, chilly morning in 2005 when an idea wandered into Brad Neuberg’s mind, making him halt all his plans in favour of a radical pursuit.

Until that moment, Brad had never truly found fulfilment in his career, both as an employee and as his own boss. As an employee, he craved the independence of working for himself. As his own boss, he hungered for the structure and community of working alongside others.

On that momentous day, the sweet spot between these two ways of working held unimaginable potential for him, and he knew there was no looking back. Brad grew his idea into a movement and brought coworking into the American lexicon, alongside San Francisco’s first shared working space at Spiral Muse.

Nearly two decades later, Brad Neuberg’s balancing act has proven to be more than just the confluence of independence and community - it has sparked a renaissance for local communities in the Western working world.

The rebirth, analysed.

The power of local communities has enough potential to bring academic disciplines from across the globe together. Experts in psychology, sociology, economic planning, urban studies (and even engineering) have since explored the communal spirit from their unique perspectives.

The Harvard Business Review calls work communities a business’ competitive advantage, and Forbes mentions how setting up a local community around one’s passion is essential to collaboration, growth and accountability. But it’s more than just that.

A diverse coworking community creates a plethora of social and psychological benefits. Interactions between companies encourage referrals for new clients, employees and investors. Entrepreneurs are more likely to get the help they need from other members when navigating the complexities of setting up a business.

Similarly, a coworking community encourages a sense of motivation within its members, replacing the isolating experience of entrepreneurship with a social element that helps people overcome hardships in their journey.

However, a recent coworking survey found that nearly one-fourth (24%) of members experience challenges in interacting organically with others in a coworking space.

When a space promises a collaborative advantage, but cannot encourage members to engage, it is likely to see a higher turnover rate. Here’s where coworking owners and operators need to become better at facilitating a community-led approach within their spaces. How, you might ask?

It’s an art, not a science.

That adage of leading a horse to water, but not making it drink, is a good way of looking at software built for members in a coworking space.

You can give them all the bells and whistles of engaging with a workspace, using their phones to enter and exit, ordering their favourite coffee and booking meeting rooms. Still, you can’t force them to contribute to the sense of community you’re trying to cultivate.

The right member tools must have a communal ‘nudge’ built into them and naturally encourage members to seek each other out. When you’ve got some more time, explore ‘Nudge Theory’ and how tiny behavioural nudges can create lasting and often beneficial outcomes for societies. We’ll be sure to explore that in a future piece. For now, it’s worth pointing out that encouraging such natural motivations among members is easier said than done.

Each space is different and certain functionality within workspace software might be more relevant for one than another. So, what’s the best way to decide which features would nurture a community-driven space?

Start with a blank canvas.

Starting with a purpose-built approach is often the best way to determine the degree of autonomy you want to give members from the outset.

The right coworking software team can help you go beyond the technological architecture of your space, and create a unique member experience based on features that would be most useful to establishing a community.

For example, member apps that allow you to organise socials, alongside giving you the tools to communicate upcoming events to them in real time, can help foster a sense of togetherness. Creating a community feed, and allowing members to post updates to it, can encourage an organic social network to form within your space.

Our research has also shown that including a member directory within their apps, and allowing members to find each other, message, and video chat (all from the same place) is an excellent way to build meaningful connections. We’ve seen this approach transform coworking spaces from the ground up.


At Nexudus, we’re passionate about creating fully customisable software for both your space and its inhabitants. If you’d like to discover how best to start building a robust community around your members, get in touch with us today.


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