Coworks will help present the Community Manager Awards at GWA FlexForward 2023, celebrating what community managers do for coworking spaces and...
Meet the Semi-finalists of 2023 GWA Community Manager Awards
In the intricate ballet of business, we often admire the lead dancers — the innovators, entrepreneurs, and business magnates. Yet, amidst the flurry of spotlighted roles, we cannot overlook the person behind the scenes, setting the stage for the spotlight. In this analogy, that person is the Community Manager. This unassuming figure, diligently working in the backdrop of coworking spaces, shapes an environment of inspiration and collaboration.
As we approach the Community Manager Awards that will be held at the Global Workspace Association FlexFoward event in DC, let's take a moment to think about the profound impact these folks have on their coworking communities.
Why do members gravitate towards these spaces?
Why do they feel a sense of camaraderie, shared purpose, and community?
In essence, why do coworking spaces, bustling with diverse individuals and organizations, function seamlessly as a unified entity?
The answer lies within the Community Manager. They cultivate the environment, laying the foundation for connection, inspiration, and progress.
“Community managers are the people we work for, at the end of the day,” said Coworks CEO DeShawn Brown. Coworks will sponsor the awards for the second year running. “That’s why it’s my honor to stand on stage and congratulate the nominees, as well as celebrate the winner each year.”
While the WHAT of their work involves multifaceted tasks and responsibilities, the HOW reveals their essential skills. Empathy, diplomacy, communication acumen, and adaptability become their arsenal in managing the delicate ecosystem of a coworking space. Moreover, their knack for fostering an environment that sparks innovation sets them apart.
This symbiosis of different skills and responsibilities makes the Community Manager's role indispensable. However, like any other work, the essence is not in the tasks performed but the belief driving them. These particular Community Managers believe in fostering a sense of community amidst diversity, believing in the power of shared purpose and mutual support. This belief, this WHY, propels them in their work. And that’s why they’ve been nominated by their communities.
As the event approaches, it is time to acknowledge these individuals who embody the golden circle of community management in coworking spaces. They start with WHY, defining the purpose that drives the community. They then proceed with HOW, using their unique skills to support this purpose. Finally, they focus on WHAT, performing necessary tasks that give life to the coworking space.
We asked this year’s semi-finalists to take precious time away from their duties to share a specific ‘aha’ moment in their role — a moment in which they felt their impact resonate. Here’s what they told us, in alphabetical order.
Christina Ciravegna, Venture X White City
My ‘aha’ moment while being a Community Manager is that being client focused means everything. Knowing that I am an important part of the product we provide gives me great satisfaction. Our best-in-class office space is the first thing that attracts our members, but the ongoing support I am proud to provide can help us retain our members in a competitive market where service and personality is vital. Adopting a personable, first-name approach with all members, an understanding of different customer needs, and ensuring I delegate my own team effectively helps us stay client focused. Seeing the impact this has had on retention and satisfaction for our members is great validation about the importance of my role.
Clint Grimes, Ensemble Coworking
As a Community Manager, my role is to include and invest in the community as a whole, caring for them for as long as I have the pleasure to serve. Welcoming new members to the community is always exciting. I love experiencing the new life, industries, energy, perspectives, and people that join Ensemble. It definitely keeps me on my toes. However, the true joy of what I do lies in sharing life with others.
The "AHA" moments come after months and even years of showing up, leaning in, listening, and sharing together. I get to witness their professional and personal growth, and it's a privilege to be a part of their journey. Sometimes, I'm even invited to experience the deep beauty of what a community affords, going beyond being just a curator of space and events to becoming a friend and confidant.
My personal "AHA" moment came when a long-time member asked if I would officiate her and her fiancé's wedding. It was an incredible honor, especially as I remembered all the dating stories she used to share with me, filled with frustration and humor, before she found the love of her life. Witnessing their relationship progress from "a" guy to "the" guy was heartwarming, and it culminated in standing together in a little chapel, pronouncing them husband and wife.
For me, community has never been just a buzzword, especially since I'm an ordained pastor. I see myself in the people business, and there's nothing greater than when the individuals who gather at Ensemble find something far more special than just vibes and swag. The secret sauce is in the connection, and that's precisely why I show up each day, ready to support and nurture our community, no matter how short or long their stay may be.
Tina Nguyen, Dreamplex
My "aha" moment as a Community Manager came when I discovered that the simple act of greeting customers in the early morning had a profound impact on their day and made my role special and satisfying. Every morning, as people walked into the building to start their working day, I made it a point to greet them warmly. What started as a routine quickly turned into one of my favorite moments of the job. As I greeted customers, some would stop by and share special news about themselves, such as families, trips, weddings, or updates about their company. Others would take a moment to engage in a lighthearted conversation, sharing jokes or inspiring stories. The first few hours of every day were always vibrant and filled with laughter, as different stories unfolded with each interaction. It was during these interactions that I realized the impact of my efforts to connect with them on a personal level, treating them as individuals rather than just employees and customers. Regardless of how their workday turned out, they would start their day with a positive experience, enjoying the moments we shared and setting a great tone for the rest of their day.
Mecca Shannon, 25N Coworking
On Friday, January 17th, 2020 I was finishing up my first week of training as the Regional Hospitality Coordinator for our Chicagoland locations. Mara and Meagan were hosting a training on the company structure and shared more of their "why" behind the company, their vision, and the impact that the industry as a whole has had on the way people are working. After this meeting, I knew I wanted to be a part of it for as long as they would let me. Coworking is so much more than a super cool workspace — it's a beautiful mix of community and creativity. Passion and entrepreneurship. And as community managers we have the opportunity to create a space every day where people feel seen, valued, and championed in the things they are most passionate about. It's beyond special and such an honor to be a part of.
Henriette Wallraf, Mindspace
What makes my role as Community Manager fulfilling to me is having a genuine, positive impact on the people I encounter. Even though having a versatile skill set in such a vibrant role is essential, I place a big focus on personal interactions on a daily basis that go beyond — active listening, showing genuine interest and deepening relationships are rarely seen in this fast-paced and online-based world, however, are extremely valuable and desired. "I cannot believe you actually remember xyz, Henni" or "Thank you so much for checking in about xyz" are sentences that warm my heart and I wouldn't want to miss them for the world. Seemingly little things go such a long way and members expressing their gratitude for the fact that you genuinely care for them is one of my main drivers.
Anishia Washington, Lucid Private Offices
My biggest "A-ha" moment has always been the joy I get when I make my clients' day. No matter how bad their day is going, just keeping a smile on my face and making sure I do everything to relate to them while helping their business grow always makes my day better. I can't know what they are dealing with (business declines, missed opportunities, bad leads etc.) but I know I'm here to be a source of professionalism, joy, hospitality, and confidence to them. Humbly, it comes very naturally from me. Recently, I had a client that is a psychiatrist follow up with me to let me know how grateful he was that we crossed paths. He decided to step out on faith and venture out on his own. He was nervous about this business venture and taking a risk to get his own office, but when he came and toured with me at Lucid it made him feel so at ease. I introduced him to many clients in his professional field. They now refer clients to his business which now has grown. He asked if there was something he could do for me since I helped him. I responded that my job is to make his workday as easy as possible and as long as he is happy I don't need anything in return. It's a pleasure to be a part of their business as it grows, and I get to be a small part of the growth of their business.
Tony Weatherington, The Yard
For me, the 'aha' moment was when I hosted my first event, an art reception, and saw members, prospective members, artists from the neighborhood, colleagues, and my friends all together in the same space. It was so fulfilling and solidified my passion for my role as a community manager. That moment motivated me to continue creating experiences that bring folks together to make genuine connections.
Karli Wies, Coco
I don’t know if it could be summed up into one moment. All the little moments where I’ve been able to connect with staff and members, been a person they confide in, and been able to celebrate their little wins and biggest accomplishments are constant reminders of why I love what I do.
Lisa Wiethe, Mindspace
It is very difficult to pinpoint one single "aha' moment. For me, the community manager position is extremely rewarding. We deliver five star service everyday and of course this can be difficult sometimes. But we receive so much back, from small gestures like members bringing back homemade olive oil after their Tuscany vacation, to receiving cards with kind words and really developing strong bonds with other members. To point out one time that really stood out for me, I will say my first Christmas time at Mindspace. We were still not over the pandemic, hence, couldn’t throw a big party. Instead we organized the “Week of Giving.” We had a small event everyday, a small market with mulled wine and traditional food, one night with live music, a Santa Claus going from office to office handing out small gifts. On the last day we teamed up with the whole community to pack boxes for kids in need with our donations. My thoughts that day: I built this community and here we are, spending a beautiful week in difficult times and giving back together. A job that matters.