9 Things We’ve Learned from COVID (and Why it Was Good for Coworking)

GCUC coworking community founder and boss lady, Liz Elam provides advice and inspiration for all

COVID was good for the GCUC world of coworking.

I know, it sounds weird but stick with me.

When the pandemic happened, I immediately put myself in my friends’ shoes. As a former space operator, I knew they were in crisis management.

Each day, the members of the GCUC team asked ourselves, “What can we do to serve our community today?” Here’s how we helped.

Going Virtual

This quickly led us down the path of supporting operators with virtual events.

Within days, we had an unconference with over 700 registrants. In April we hosted an online conference on the dates we would have been conferencing in-person in Seattle. We took the topics of the moment, including how to talk to your landlord and cleaning procedures, and made deliverables for our community. We’re growing our online community (join at gcuc.co)  since March on zoom we have hosted 207 meetings, 109,270 meeting minutes and reached over 3800 humans!

Engaging and Activating our Global Community

GCUC is a global company with connections all over the world. We had unique insights into how other regions were coming back so we shared that information out to our community. We also spent a great deal of time reassuring people that when this is all over, coworking will thrive and explaining our predictions. We also talked about the desire to not waste a crisis.

We read and read and read everything we could about our industry so our community could focus on their business and we could educate them on-demand via our membership Slack where we post and categorize all the articles we’re reading.

We gave anyone in the world interested in getting connected with the coworking community 24/7/365 three months free of GCUC membership.

We moved GCUC Manchester online and ran online events in Asia Pacific, Australia and North America.

Reconnecting with Sponsors

We also gave all our sponsors a year free of membership. Speaking of sponsors, COVID brought us closer.

We couldn’t host a physical event so we started asking our sponsors how we can help them and support our community together. We’ve done many hours of consulting, idea sharing and learning. Our sponsors have truly been so supportive and kind. After calling every single sponsor in one day to break the bad news about moving GCUC, I cried. People were so real and supportive. I choose this industry over and over for the exceptional people in it.

Hitting Pause

In June when things went backwards in the US, we saw burnout rise.

We felt it ourselves and decided the best way to support our community and ourselves was to take a break from events for a month.

If we’re going to promote self care we have to show our commitment.

The Takeaways

So there is a lot of activity, but what did we learn? Here are our top nine takeaways:

  1. Our job is to serve our community
  2. We now have a new line of business: online events
  3. We need to stay more connected to our sponsors
  4. Community matters now more than ever
  5. We have to eat our own dog food
  6. We’re good at spreading hope and inspiration
  7. We can pivot like a MF
  8. Question everything
  9. We did not waste a crisis

We know this isn’t over but we choose to remain optimistic.

We will continue to do everything we can to support the community we have helped grow. We promise to nurture and feed it so that when this is over we can all thrive, together.

Be well.

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