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Practical tips and tricks for building your coworking community and the things inside it.

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Coworking Owners: How to Take Vacation

It's easy to believe that only YOU can do the job of running your coworking space. It feels nice to be The One with the answer, the person in charge and the go-to gal for anything. 

This. Is. Not. True.

You believe you are the only capable person because you've never given anyone else the chance to contribute. Here are some easy-peasy ways to start delegating critical tasks to other people or the community at large so you can go recharge your batteries without feeling like you have to have your phone tucked in in the waistband of your swimsuit the whole time you're away.

Set up Subscriptions

You can make anything from toilet paper to coffee appear in your space on a schedule. I highly recommend this for basic sundries. Our coffee provider delivers a 5lb bag of coffee every 1st Friday and charges my credit card. I don't have to do anything to ensure that everyone is caffinated. Look into Amazon's subscription services. Pro-tip: track your use for a couple of months so you know how often to have the drones deliver your essentials.

Probably avoid having puppies delivered unless you have a long-term strategy for that.

Probably avoid having puppies delivered unless you have a long-term strategy for that.

Leave a Loaded Gift Card

Put $100 on a gift card to the closest grocery store or big box shop. Let your members know where it is and if something critical goes out of stock while you're away, they are empowered to grab the gift card and take care of the problem. Have them leave the receipts in the envelope for you. This works great for creamer, dish soap or light bulbs.

Put Billing on Auto-pilot

The strongest case I can make for using a coworking management software is that it can ensure that you're paid automatically every month, no matter what. I recently took away the option to pay by check or paypal and instead require all members to put a debit or credit card into their account in Cobot. When the 1st of the month rolls around, their cards get charged for their membership and my presence isn't required.

No one will ever know there's not a real person behind the check they just got in the mail.

No one will ever know there's not a real person behind the check they just got in the mail.

Put Expenses on Auto-pilot

If you are manually cutting checks for your recurring monthly bills, just stop. Login to your bank and learn how to use their bill pay services. I have my rent payments and other recurring services like janitorial and bloggers set up to get their checks cut and sent to them every month whether I remember or not.

Warn Your Members

Before every extended vacation or holiday break I send an email to all members that says something like this, "I will be out of town for 10 days. Here's who you contact for building disasters, internet outages or urgent supply issues. Please lower your expectations by 10% for the next week."

Use Your Email Vacation Responder

I leave very explicit details on who to contact for what in my vacation auto-responder. I tell them who to contact/how and for what reason. 

Don't Schedule Events During Your Vacations

This feels obvious to me but events are one of the most stressful parts of owning a coworking space. If I know I'll be out of town, I don't plan a single event to occur during those dates. It simplifies things and I know that only members will be occupying the space during my vacancy.

This image is probably too dramatic to indicate that the space is closed to the public during my vacations.

This image is probably too dramatic to indicate that the space is closed to the public during my vacations.

Invite Members to Contribute

Another common logic fallacy of coworking operators is that members expect to be given everything in return for their membership fee. If you are truly building a community and not just a commodity, you'll find that members are DELIGHTED to be given ways to help out. This makes them feel useful and often allows them to form deeper connections with one another, with you and with the space.

Here are some of the things Cohere members have happily contributed so I can take some time off:

  1. Watering the plants (you have at least one plant-crazy person in your space)
  2. Keeping an eye on the cream. We have a Chancellor of Cream, whose sole job is to monitor this
  3. Answering the door/signing for packages
  4. Giving tours to prospective members
  5. Being copied on the contact forms during my vacations and replying to inquiries
  6. Restocking toilet paper and paper towels
  7. Taking the laundry basket home to wash
  8. Wiping the desks down
  9. Replacing light bulbs
  10. Keeping the counters wiped
We don't require our Chancellor of Cream to wear a crown of shells but we feel certain they feel this fierce.

We don't require our Chancellor of Cream to wear a crown of shells but we feel certain they feel this fierce.

Writing this post has me wanting to head to the hills for a week off. Don't become your own bottleneck for your mental health. We all need time off and I'd argue that community managers need MORE time off than we think. We do hard emotional work every day and if we don't recharge ourselves, we don't stand a chance at helping everyone else.

Recap: Women Who Cowork Retreat 2018

AMAZEBOOBS. That's all I can really say about the first ever Women Who Cowork retreat held at Soma Vida in Austin, TX. I've been sworn to secrecy about the actual goings-ons at this event but I do have some tidbits and teasers I CAN share.

Women-Who-Cowork-Retreat-group.jpg

Getting to know one another and helping each other on the WWC Facebook group is ONE thing. Hugging, making eye contact and loving on one another IN PERSON is a whole other thing. Sound familiar? Much like the work we do with our IRL coworking communities, we practiced what we preach by coming together in person to connect. Thank you to Iris and Laura for catalyzing this opportunity for us all. 

23 women from the United States and Canada attended this inaugural event. Here are my SEVEN POINT ONE key takeaways from this incredible gathering of women.

ONE: Felena Hanson. I have secretly admired her from afar for almost a decade. She shared her story, how Herahub came to be and gave us a peak behind the curtain of her success. I found her incredibly relatable, warm, genuine and frankly, she has impeccable style.

TWO: Ashley Proctor. I have had the honor of being in closed audiences with Ashley for years and every time I hear her story I'm struck by how incredibly resilient and persistent AF she is. When Ashley wants something done, she works at it relentlessly until it is achieved even if it means getting told "no" 25 times.

THREE: Liz Elam. This retreat reminded me how much I love Liz. To the point, candid and refreshing AF Liz taught us how to negotiate. I can't reveal the secrets here but if you get a cocked-head-dead-shark-eyes-stare from me in the future--just know that I'm practicing on you and you WILL bend to my will.

FOUR: Cat Johnson. Goddammit Cat. Stop. Making. Me. Cry every time we're in the same time-zone. Cat is so incredibly authentic and shares so much of her heart. Cat taught us EVEN MORE about creating content that matters. Head over to the Coworking Content Alliance Facebook group and join.

Photo by Amy King of Good Work Dallas, TX

Photo by Amy King of Good Work Dallas, TX

FIVE: Daryn DeZengotita. Keep your eye on this one. Daryn is doing some of the most important work I can think of right now and that's bringing coworking into underutilized churches. Also, she makes me laugh and laugh and laugh and I value that over almost anything.

FIVE POINT ONE: We discussed what happens when you take god out of church and take desks out of coworking. Guess what?! It's the same damn thing. It's people, connection, support and community. Will coworking be the new church? I think it will--no matter your religious beliefs.

SIX: The way women show up TOGETHER is so, so, so, so different than we show up in mixed gender groups. How can we change or amplify this for our benefit?

SEVEN: Paging Deskmag! We have some revisions to the world coworking history timeline. Please see Laura Shook for corrections and addition of female names to that well-read albeit incomplete timeline.

All in all, I am so happy that I took a chance and reworked my schedule to attend this. Keep your eye on Women Who Cowork and be sure to sign up for their next event.

Photo by Melissa Saubers of Cowork Waldo Kansas City, MO

Photo by Melissa Saubers of Cowork Waldo Kansas City, MO