Cultivating Your Coworking Community

Alex Hillman | How to nurture community, prevent burnout, and become a natural-born leader.
Ryan Chatterton
February 19, 2018
20 min watch

I caught up with Alex Hillman, founder of Indyhall, at CU Asia 2018 in Penang, Malaysia early this February. In this interview, Alex offers quality tips on community cultivation, fighting coworking operator burnout, and looking to lead their communities from within.

Alex is widely recognized as the on of the most prominent voices in the global coworking movement, and Indyhall, a Philidelphia coworking space, is considered the longest continuously operating coworking space in the world. This interview is filled with quality tips on community cultivation, fighting coworking operator burnout, and looking to lead their communities from within.


DON'T MISS OUT: We're hosting a live webinar with Alex Hillman on March 7th, 2018 at 15:00 GMT (10:00 EST). Learn more about it at the bottom of the page.

Below are some of the most important highlights from the interview.

Why teams are more work than individual members

Alex argues that teams take more effort to integrate into your coworking community because they tend to be more insular. Employees within these teams rightly focus much of their attention on their internal teammates as opposed to the broader coworking space community. After all, they have jobs to do and bosses to impress. Time spent mingling within the community may be viewed as frivolity.

Using a hilarious food analogy, Alex points out that it takes time and effort to pull those team members apart to "spread" some coworking community between them.

However, Alex isn't saying that teams are a bad thing. Not at all. Teams, he says, are a sign of success. If your coworkers' teams are growing, that means their businesses are likely growing, which is indeed something to be celebrated.

Burnout is real, but it's preventable.

The secret to preventing coworking manager burnout comes down to one simple mantra. "Work with your members, not for them."

When you work with your members to host events, improve the space, or create connections, you share the load and build consensus. It empowers your members and helps prevent entitlement from them, which ultimately makes your coworking life more comfortable and more manageable.

One simple example we can point to is the coffee machine. Who makes the coffee? If you do, then you work for your members. If you teach members how to make coffee when they join, then you are working with your members. The same can be said for dirty dishes and overflowing trash bins.

The trick is to do this as soon as possible because the longer you work for your members, the harder it will be to change their paradigm down the line.

What you're in it for is super important.

Why are you starting or managing a shared workspace? Is it for money? Is it because it's your job?

Alex points out that Indyhall exists as much for his personal growth and benefit as it is does for any other reason. Indyhall gives Alex the opportunity to learn new skills, start other exciting projects, travel and speak about things he's passionate about, and meet incredible people all over the world. To sum up his point, Alex says he can do almost anything he can dream up now, all because of Indyhall. And it wasn't by accident. It was by design.

What are you in it for?

Other unique insights include...
  • Profound and new advice Alex would give to himself if he were starting over in the coworking world.
  • More profound and unique advice for coworking employees at the outset of their careers.
  • And much more, but you'll have to watch to find out!

I hope you enjoy this conversation with Alex as much as I did.

DON'T FORGET: We're hosting a live webinar with Alex Hillman on March 7th, 2018 at 15:00 GMT (10:00 EST). It's all about the process Indyhall went through to survive relocating their space and entire member community last year. Come learn how to survive the space-finding and moving process yourself, but even more, learn how moving your location can actually be a positive experience for you and your members. Sign up at:

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Ryan Chatterton

Marketing Director, founder at Coworking Insights, coworking maven, digital nomad, lover of wine & tacos.

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