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The 4 C's of Community Building

by Jon Hormaetxe

From Britain To Spain

Back in 2015, Jon was ready to leave Edinburgh.

A chance encounter at a conference in Javea introduced him to Edu who would become his co-founder at Sun & Co.

Jon was new to the coliving & remote work world but immediately understood the attraction even when people around him were not too convinced.

After 5 years of running one of the very first coliving spaces for digital nomads, with little to no guidelines but his gut to follow, Jon had gathered a lot of practical, hands-on knowledge, tricks, and tips. But when a guest asked him one day "What are the key aspects that make this place a space people come back to?" Jon found himself unable to give a straight answer. That is the question that triggered his quest to better understand Community Building and the starting point of his "4 C's of Community" pyramid he shared with us during our July webinar (2023).

Community Maslow's Style

What Jon knew for sure was that:

  • The soul of the owner/manager reflects in the space, it becomes its personality.

  • A community starts from who you attract to your space.

If you attract the right people, whatever you do later, things will work out. the magic will happen with less work for you.

The First C is for Curating

Starting with the base, how do you attract "your" people? Through the right branding and marketing. By relaying your vision, mission, and values in the right way through visuals and tone of voice but also by putting yourself out there. People will need to like what you convey because they are going to live with you. They need to understand relatively quickly if this is a place for them. If they will belong.

YOU start with YOU, who are you? You are the community.

You should also reflect on what your access barriers are. Do people book directly online, or do they fill out a form? Are there interviews and/or minimum stays?

Depending on where you are you can attract people through your ideal location first, or because you have built a strong and relatable brand.

The second C is for Convenience

When we think Community we often jump right into events and community manager roles. But what comes first is Convenience: making sure that the logistic works so that your guests can focus on what matters to them.

Cleaning, wifi... should not be their concern. Otherwise, that is how gossip starts and that is how the colivers start seeing the space as a provider instead of a place they belong to and are part of.

Making sure communication works perfectly is essential. Communication between colivers, from your team to the colivers but also within your team. Make things clear and easy on the "Practical onboarding".

The Third C is Connection

It is the manager's role to provide opportunities to connect. It starts with the way the space is designed, making sure people have the possibility to see if people are hanging out (see-through, glass walls, open spaces...)

The name you give to the spaces also has an impact. Events are of course essentials. They can be:

professional, social, in the workspace or at "home", large or intimate, outside or inside... It all depends on the value you want to provide.

The host plays a huge role in connecting people in real life while managing the tech platform that allows for more structure and new people to connect even before they arrive.

The "Personal onboarding" - how do we introduce them to people when they first arrive" is absolutely essential.

The last C is Care

When it is all in place, that is when you have space to bring the transformative experience. That is when you aim to create a space full of generosity where everyone cares about each other.

We have to care first through small things, through personalisation, and putting a lot of ourselves in the process.

But we also need to encourage them to take ownership of tasks and activities, of how the space is being used through feedback, delegation, and above all trust.

When your guests lead the activities or when you build an atmosphere of unconditional giving, that’s when the magic starts to happen.

It is important to trust enough to be able to remove yourself from the "service provider role" so they can reach a transformative experience. According to Jon, this happens only if you manage to make people feel at Home, safe enough to be vulnerable, which leads to meaningful conversation and eventually to meaningful relationships.

________________________________ Thank you so much Jon for such a clear and interesting presentation of your hands on learning!

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