Dallas-based coworking brand Common Desk has created a virtual membership offering that supports people missing a sense of professional community while practicing social distancing during the COVID-19 outbreak.
The company’s “Work from Home” (WFH) membership is a donation-based virtual coworking membership that lets anyone—no matter their location or financial situation—join the Common Desk network where they can find resources and a like-minded community. And people can choose their own monthly rate for that membership.
The pay-as-you-can virtual membership is meant to be a timely extension of the Common Desk mission to connect people and resources at time when they need it most.
“COVID-19 will forever change workplace solutions, corporate real estate strategy, and ultimately the way people work,” said Nick Clark, CEO and Founder of Common Desk in a statement.
“I believe additional digital offerings will be a pivot we continue to see from the entire coworking industry.”
Clark says Common Desk has always provided freelancers, entrepreneurs, and enterprise employees a place to connect, grow their business, and become more successful. But the COVID-19 outbreak prompted a new way of thinking.
Now, he says, bringing those efforts to people’s homes is something that Common Desk plans on doing from here out: “Even after we’re back to operating in our physical spaces.”
Clark, who has a real estate background and tends to be an industry frontrunner, added: “I believe additional digital offerings will be a pivot we continue to see from the entire coworking industry.”
Like others, Common Desk’s physical coworking spaces across Texas have been closed for all non-essential businesses since March 20, and “the brand as a whole has been practicing social distancing for nearly a month,” Clark said.
Knowing most professionals in the U.S. and its members are working in isolation at home, Common Desk wanted to create a solution to help the brand uphold its mission statement, which is to “enhance every workday, for all.”
Clark notes that Common Desk is seeing “an incredible response” from its digital efforts.
Clark founded Common Desk in 2012 to be a place for people to connect, converse, and—maybe most importantly—find community. He has no intention of backing away from that mission now.
“While we are currently distanced from others, we have never needed community more,” Clark said.
“We are more committed now than ever before to opening the virtual doors of our community and helping as many people experience the magic of Common Desk as possible.”
What is a WFH membership?
According to Common Desk, the WFH membership includes:
• access to up to 10 digital community events per week
• invites to its new “social (distancing) clubs,”
• 1 day pass a month that will roll over to be utilized when Common Desk spaces are back to “business as usual,”
• curated resources made for Common Desk members
• a physical mailbox at the Common Desk location closest to the prospective member.
For the next three months, Common Desk is suggesting a price of $75/month for their WFH membership, but people have the ability to pay whatever they can–whether that’s more or less than the suggested amount. Anyone interested in exploring or signing up for Common Desk’s new Work from Home membership can do so here.
Current Common Desk members were the first to gravitate to the new WFH membership and its related digital community offerings, the company said.
One member-led event staple at Common Desk, called Wine Down Wednesday, had some 50 attendees at its first digital event. It was an added—and maybe unexpected—bonus that the new digital event brought together many Common Desk members from the various spaces and cities who were meeting for the first time, it said.
“With such a drastic, overnight hit to our collective normal, it seems like what we need throughout the day changes by the hour,” said Katy Klefeker, Director of Hospitality at Common Desk, referring to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We feel a strong sense of responsibility to meet our community exactly where they are at on that roller coaster.”
Member benefits range from social to serious business
That can mean a Zoom happy hour or virtual trivia game, Klefkeker says. Other times, it means connecting with experts “to get timely resources in our members’ hands to ensure their businesses make it to the other side,” she explained.
“At this point, no idea is off the table if it could work to make this situation brighter or more manageable for even just one person.”
The WFH community has the ability to attend virtual events throughout the work week. That might include digital “Lunch & Learns” with industry leaders, virtual happy hours, “Mindfulness Moments” for de-stressing, Instagram live local concert series, or even at-home coffee, fitness, and kids entertainment tutorials.
Clearly there’s plenty to keep folks busy: Common Desk’s social (distancing) clubs also include a Netflix club, book club, fitness club, and a gaming club. Members also can check in with others over a community Slack channel, and get updates through Common Desk’s curated WFH member newsletter, (cleverly) called “The Daily Quarantea.”
One Common Desk member, Todd Sinelli, thanked the staff after attending Common Desk’s virtual Q&A on applying for SBA loans.“This alone was worth an entire year of membership at Common Desk to me,” he said.
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