A co-living community is a new way of living that redefines cultural norms. It lets you live as part of a community with shared living spaces, social events, and a professional host, and at the end of the day, you can retreat to the comfort of your own private room. Loneliness and depression is a growing global problem. Instead of technology bringing us closer together, it’s only made us drift further apart. This global living movement is offering a solution that works by connecting people in real life right in their homes.
There are a variety of companies like Roam, Outsite, and Common that offer this alternate way of living. You can experience it in urban jungles like London or New York, or live like a digital nomad in Bali. It offers convince, flexibility and most importantly, access to a like-minded community.
My time as a Co-living Community Manager
I’m Michelle Sims, Global Community Manager for Finimize, and CMX Connect Host in London UK. I was previously Community Manager for Roam Co-living, and I’ve worked with online and offline communities for over 7 years. During my time at Roam, I lived with over 800 community members we called “Roamies”, in properties from a Victorian mansion in London, to the oldest boarding house in Miami, Florida. These co-living communities are made up of an incredibly diverse group of entrepreneurs, travellers, and digital nomads.
I juggled daily disruptions 7 days a week. At any hour, I was expected to onboard new members, engage the existing community, and maintain the home. Some days I woke up to fix a boiler for a 34-roomed mansion. Others, I was to organize a string quartet concert in the living room, or prepare a Thanksgiving dinner for a kitchen full of CEOs, writers and lawyers.
Having your co-living community thrive in multiple locations requires consistency but above all, you must have ‘jack of all trades’ Community Managers. Here are eight learnings from my time as a Co-living Community Manager:
A vetting process allows you to find out more about your community members before they arrive. It’s important to not exclude anyone but make sure you have the right people in the right house.
These in-person experiences are why some members pick co-living over an apartment or an Airbnb. During the onboarding experience, find out their interests or hobbies. Pre-prepare an activity that they will love to join. Communicate these events at the start of each week or month so members can opt-in or add their own.
Organize regular and consistent town hall meetings so the house can meet, celebrate and discuss issues together in real life. Most importantly use these opportunities to get their buy-in and feedback.
Change management process
Your community will be directly impacted if there is a change to the house. Every project needs to be managed with the community at the heart of each stage. Find a strategy that works for your members and use it every time.
Lead by example and own your decision
As the Community Manager, you are the leader of the house. Implementing new process takes time, so by walking your talk, others will follow. You’ll earn the respect and trust of the rest of your community.
Throw out the rule book
You don’t want your members to feel like they’re back in school, or worse, back at their parent’s house. You can manage without house rules by having a consistent onboarding experience. Create training manuals and checklist to streamline this process.
Set your own personal boundaries
Your time should be valued and you need to show the community that. Put a sign in the a common space with your schedule. That way, people will know, even if you’re around when you are off duty.
Meet everyone in person
Your job as the Community Manager is to create these invaluable real-life experiences and make everyone feel welcomed. Even if members are there for a short stay, always make the effort to meet them face to face.
Managing an offline community is an exciting opportunity, whether you’re a co-living community manager, or building an offline strategy for your existing online community. Now more than ever, people are looking to connect in person.
What to read next
By democratizing your brand, and distributing power to your most loyal community members, you unlock incredible growth potential. You are no longer limited by the bandwidth of your core team. You can spark a movement and build in-person brand engagement at scale. Read The Power of Customer-to-Customer (C2C) Marketing by David Spinks