- Coworking events enable you to provide value beyond just space access and amenities
- To create a great event, start by asking your members want they would like to see from you and your community
- Some ideas include lunch & learns, speaker series, social events, and a weekly sharing circle
Community is the heart and soul of your coworking space.
Putting on a great event can be challenging, especially if you’re new to the coworking industry, as so many of our clients are. That’s why we put together this extensive guide on creating a great event.
In this article, you’ll learn exactly how events can benefit your business, the art behind creating a great event, and 15 ideas for events that you can hold in your coworking space.
Let’s dive in!
Why are coworking space events important?
Coworking events enable you to provide value beyond just space access and amenities. In fact, holding member events has become a standard in the coworking industry.
A great coworking event can:
- Build community: events serve as catalysts for community-building. They provide opportunities for members to meet, interact, and form meaningful connections.
- Foster collaboration: collaborative events, such as hackathons, design sprints, or problem-solving challenges, can spark innovation and foster a sense of collective achievement among your members.
- Improve member retention: hosting events keeps members engaged and satisfied with their coworking experience. When members feel that they are part of a vibrant, active community, they are more likely to renew their memberships.
- Attract new members: well-organized events can serve as powerful marketing tools. When current members invite colleagues, friends, or clients to events, it introduces potential new members to your space.
- Improve brand visibility: by hosting events, you can elevate your coworking space’s brand visibility within your local business community.
- Generate more revenue: while many events may be free or included in memberships, you can also generate revenue by hosting paid events, workshops, or renting event spaces to external organizations.
Some coworking owners and operators have been so successful with events, that they’ve become a key part of their business strategy. For Mark Eaton, Founder at The Corner Coworking, events are integral to building community. Learn how Mark uses events to build community in our guide to building community, according to nine coworking leaders.
How do you create a great event in your coworking space?
The secret to creating a great coworking space event is to start with your members. Think about what they want and what would benefit them the most, and design an event around just that.
The best way to get these insights is to ask them directly via a coworking survey. Here are a few questions you can ask:
- What past events have you enjoyed the most? The least?
- What kind of events would you like to see more of?
- Do you prefer online or in-person events?
- What are you interested in learning about? (select from a few listed choices)
- What’s your preferred way of networking (i.e. speed networking, wine and cheese, etc)?
Use these insights to craft a coworking event that you know your members will love, whether it’s a virtual happy hour or an evening networking event.
Having a great event will also come down to creating engaging content and activities, hitting your clearly defined goals, and promoting it effectively.
How do you promote coworking space events?
Once you settle on an event (or series of events) for your coworking space, you’ll need a way of promoting them. A good promotion strategy will ensure your events are successful.
How you promote your event will depend on the size of the event and whether it is public or not. Some ideas for promoting your event include:
- Sending out a message, push notification or email to your members
- Posting a sign in your space
- Including a banner on your website
- Advertising it on social media – organic and paid
- Including it in your member community feed or in your in-app events calendar
Don’t be discouraged if these first couple of events have a low turn-out. Focus on creating an amazing experience for your members and word or mouth will help you do the rest.
We wrote a complete guide that covers everything you need to know about promoting events in your coworking space if you’d like to learn more.
15 coworking space event ideas to build community
There is no shortage of events you can host in your coworking space. Here are 15 of our favorites that we’ve seen implemented with great success!
1. Art exhibition
What it is: a dedicated day, night, or week to hosting art from a variety of local artists or your members in your space.
Transforming your coworking space into an art gallery for an exhibition is a creative and engaging way to infuse energy, stimulate creativity, and build a sense of community among your members.
Hosting an art exhibition can be mutually beneficial as well, showcasing local artists and providing a dynamic environment for your coworking community. You could also invite members in your community to create art to showcase in the space to cultivate a feeling of togetherness.
Pro tip: Interested in a larger event? Consider working with other small businesses in the neighborhood to host an art walk, a fun, interactive event where community members can wander from one building to the next exploring art from local artists.
2. Book club
What it is: a monthly meeting where members agree to read the same book and come together to discuss it.
A book club is a fun, old-school way of coming together over shared interests. Choose books that encourage personal and professional growth, as well as New York Times Bestsellers to drum up excitement and interest.
Encourage open discussion and a safe space for people to talk about how the book impacted them and what they thought of it. These are even more fun over coffee and refreshments!
Pro tip: Try holding an “anything book club” where members can come together once a month to discuss any book they are reading or recently enjoyed. It’s a fun way to learn about new books to check out, while still creating a communal experience.
3. Community potluck
What it is: a one-time event where everyone brings a tasty dish to share with all members.
Community potlucks are a beloved tradition that bring people together through shared food and conversation. They celebrate diversity, foster inclusivity, and create lasting bonds.
Before holding a potluck, be sure that you:
- Understand everyone’s dietary restrictions and allergies
- Coordinate serving sizes
- Label all dishes with important notes such as “vegan” or “contains nuts”
- Decide what the house will provide, be it drinks, serving utensils, etc.
Pro tip: To ensure a well-balanced and enjoyable potluck, plan and coordinate the dishes that attendees will bring via a sign-up sheet organized by type of food (appetizer, entree, dessert, drinks). This ensures a variety of dishes with limited repetition.
4. Demo days
What it is: an opportunity for members to demonstrate their products or services and obtain feedback through presentations and interactive displays.
Demo days are a popular event choice for incubators, accelerators, and other spaces that cater heavily towards budding entrepreneurs. Demo days can be great launching points for members to get ideas off the ground or conduct valuable market research to prove a concept.
Pro tip: Turn your demo day into a member showcase by inviting those outside of the community to come and participate. Not only can it grow your business, but it can also be highly valuable for your members to receive external feedback on their ideas.
5. Group fitness class
What it is: any organized physical activity for your members, from an indoor spin session to stand up paddleboard yoga.
One of the more popular recurring events that we see in coworking spaces are group fitness classes. Inviting an instructor to come in and guide your members in an organized physical activity is a great way to break up the work day and give your members that midday endorphin rush.
Plus, bringing fitness into the workplace is well-received by members who are often struggling to fit everything into their busy schedules. Some examples of group fitness classes that we often see include:
- A gentle yoga session
- A high energy bootcamp
- HIIT training with different stations
- An outdoor walk/run
Pro tip: In the outdoor months, take your group exercise classes outdoors to make the most of the summer season. You could organize a group hike, kayaking session, bodyweight bootcamp, or even just a simple neighborhood walk to get things moving.
What it is: A hackathon is a 24-48-hour competition that brings together teams of techies to work on a software project in response to a common problem. At the conclusion of the event, teams present their solutions to a panel of judges.
While a Hackathon might involve more planning than some of the other events mentioned, it’ll definitely draw a crowd and give potential new members a good introduction to your space. It’s an especially powerful tool if you’re looking to target freelance designers or a more technical crowd.
Pro tip: Not sure where to start with a hackathon? Collaborate with some of your more tech-forward members to support you with putting on this event. You can then offer a discount on their next month’s invoice as a small thank you for their help.
7. Lunch and learns
What it is: a 30-45 min learning session led by members, staff, or external parties during the lunch hour.
Lunch and learns are typically an open invitation where people are able to eat as they listen to a lecture and learn a new skill. Some of the benefits to this style of event include:
- Create a culture of collaboration and idea sharing
- Members get to learn new skills
- If led by a member, they can give them the opportunity to showcase their expertise and market their services
- Great opportunity for networking
Pro tip: Keep things active by kicking off your lunch and learn with an exercise or activity that gets the audience mingling and engaged. Even a quick five minute ice breaker can go a long way!
8. Networking mixers
What it is: an evening cocktail hour designed to bring together members with the purpose of developing relationships and potential business partnerships.
When most people think of a coworking space event, chances are they are thinking about something akin to a networking event.
Of course there are lots of other kinds of events, but bringing people together over some refreshments and good conversation is a timeless strategy that will never go out of style.
Plus, they are easy to put on. All you’ll need is some complimentary beverages and light refreshments and you’re good to go.
Pro tip: Consider organizing themed mixers, like “Tech Tuesdays” or “Creative Collaborations Thursdays” to organize the networking opportunities around specific industries. Encourage attendees to share their business goals or challenges to spark meaningful and fruitful conversations.
9. Open house
What it is: A coworking space open house is an organized event where coworking owners and operators invite the public, particularly individuals who they’re most hoping to join their space, to visit and explore their facility.
Open houses are powerful for:
- Marketing your space to the community
- Showing off the culture of the space to prospective members
- Demonstrating the perks of being a member
- Creating networking opportunities amongst current or prospective members
Pro tip: When hosting an open house, encourage your current members to invite their friends and colleagues. Incentivize this behavior by offering a referral discount for every new members that joins.
Want to learn more about open houses? This guide will show you everything you need to know to host a fantastic open house in your coworking space.
10. Open mic nights
What it is: an opportunity for members to showcase their talents, from singing to stand-up comedy.
Do you have a particularly extraverted or performance-oriented community? Perhaps you operate a recording studio and space for creatives? Provide a stage for members to showcase their talents!
Open mic nights can be an excellent opportunity for team bonding and expressing creativity. They also serve as a fun way to invite people to let loose in a safe space and show off some of their talents outside of their professional lives.
Pro tip: You can easily turn your open night into a talent show by opening it up to other talents and inviting volunteer judges to participate.
11. Panel discussion
What it is: a group of experts discussing an agreed upon topic, often taking questions from the audience and inviting a large-scale discussion.
Are there influential or interesting people in your network who have an opinion on a hot topic? If so, a panel discussion could be a great fit for your space.
Bringing insightful people together in one space for a lively discussion sparks conversation and creates connection to your space. It’s one of the reasons why Luke Jones, Chairman at 1880, says they host a variety of people in their space on a regular basis.
Learn more about Luke Jones in our Future of Work conversation.
Pro tip: Align your panel discussion with your niche. For example, if you are a tech-focused space for developers, you may choose to host a discussion on the impact of AI on the future of web development.
12. Pitch nights
What it is: an evening for people to pitch their best business ideas, set up in a “Shark Tank” style environment.
While Demo Days are for showing off a product, Pitch Nights are for showcasing a business idea. Create a supportive environment where members can present their projects or startups ideas and gather feedback from professionals with a dedicated Pitch Night.
Not only does it serve as great practice for aspiring entrepreneurs, it can also double as a form of entertainment for others in the community, depending on how public you decide to make the event.
Pro tip: Invite external, volunteer investors to offer constructive feedback and potential opportunities for collaboration.
13. Social events
What it is: any low-pressure event designed with the sole purpose of bringing people together to have fun.
Not everything has to be about business. Help your members relax and get to know each other by hosting a:
- Happy hour at a local restaurant
- Casual pizza party in your space
- Live music night at a local bar
Bringing members together in a low-pressure setting will help the conversation flow and will foster that all-important sense of community. It also takes the pressure off of you to plan something spectacular, and could be a great place to start with your events.
Pro tip: If you really want to make your social event stand out, get your community to work on something together, like painting a mural on one of the walls in your coworking space or planting a garden together. Creating in tandem is an ideal way to build connections between members.
14. Speaker series
What it is: a series of interesting keynote speakers talking about a variety of subject matters.
Speaker series are always an exciting opportunity for members to learn from subject matter experts, especially when it is highly relevant to them. Identify your members’ skill gaps and areas of interest and bring in local speakers to share their expertise.
It could be an accountant to discuss tax saving strategies for small businesses or an SEO expert to help members boost their digital presence. Either way, the key to a successful speaker series is to:
- Ensure topics are relevant to your members
- Select experts that are engaging and interesting to listen to
- Make the times accessible for all
- Consider live-streaming so people can watch at home
Pro tip: Attendees should leave the event feeling prepared to apply this new knowledge in their day-to-day work, so be sure to instruct guests to give tactical information as much as possible – and for attendees to take notes!
15. Weekly sharing circle
What it is: a safe space for a group of members to get together and discuss anything of interest to them in their lives.
Sounds like kindergarten all over again, but it’s not. Many coworking space members are solopreneurs or remote workers. Without team members on site, these members may feel isolated.
Sharing circles are a great way to allow members to bounce ideas off one another and collaborate on their challenges. Plus, it creates a mutually-supportive environment and might even lead to more collaboration on future initiatives.
Pro tip: Bring some light mediation and discussion questions to each session to ensure the discussion stays on track and everyone that wants to participate has the opportunity to do so.
What events work best in your space?
As you discover the events that work best for you, remember to always tailor them to your members needs, first.
What do they enjoy? How do they want to engage with their community? How often would they like these events to be held?
When you have the answers, it’ll be easier to create events that really bring your community together, enhance their member experience and, ultimately, grow your space.
Need help with promoting events in your coworking space? See how Optix Events app can support you.