Coworking Influencer

Why coworking spaces help build ‘belonging’ in a lonely world

Tony Bacigalupo moved to the lovely town of Norwalk, Connecticut, and had zero connections.

Fortunately, he knew he wasn’t the only one. And as a former coworking space operator, he called on trusted principles to address the problem. He befriended the owner of the cafe he liked to frequent and took matters from there.

Tony Bacigalupo headshot“I'm going to host an event that I'm calling a New To Town meetup,” he shared on his recent webinar about Belongfulness. “It’s an event for people who have just moved to the city of Norwalk and who want to meet other people. It's a super simple idea. But as you might know if you've ever moved to a new town, if you don't already have a really robust social network, it is very hard to break into most places.”

That idea of finding community was an overall theme of the webinar, in which Bacigalupo spoke with coworking operators and influencers about the idea of solving what has been classed by the US Surgeon General as ‘an epidemic of loneliness.’ The webinar had an incredible amount of resources, with some highlights including:

  • Building a sense of community and connection is core to the mission of coworking spaces. As operators, you are already doing amazing work every day to bring people together and combat loneliness and isolation. 

  • However, there is an increasingly prevalent "crisis of disconnection" that people of all ages are facing. This goes beyond just feeling lonely — it's about lacking a sense of true belonging.

  • Coworking spaces are uniquely positioned to be part of the solution to this crisis. By continuing to host community events, gatherings, and programs, you provide those vital "third places" for people to connect.

  • Here are some event ideas shared that resonated with the group:
  1. Conversation Corners with thought-provoking question prompts 
  2. Member-led lunch and learns to share expertise
  3. Fun themed events like Pretzel Day or Waffle Wednesdays  
  4. Networking brunches for specific groups like female founders
  5. New resident meetups for people who just moved to the area
  • The keys seem to be creating low-pressure, structured but casual ways for people to convene and connect authentically. Providing food helps too!

  • Raising awareness about your spaces and events is crucial. Use all channels - social media, local listings, community partners. You may uncover "randos" craving connection.

  • Consider pooling impact data to demonstrate the powerful role coworking plays in fostering community cohesion and human connection. This could attract sponsors and support.

  • Continued coordination and sharing of best practices between spaces will strengthen the whole coworking movement's ability to combat this disconnection crisis. 

In his follow up LinkedIn post, Bacigalupo offered more sources and opportunities to be involved for anyone connected with or ancillary to the world of coworking. Specifically, he shared the replay link and more details about the Belongfulness Project.

And here is what coworking spaces specifically can do.

Coworking spaces are in the business of providing community. It’s a unique blend of real estate, entrepreneurship, and human connection — the last of which is harder to quantify, but perhaps the most meaningful aspect of all.

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