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How to Start a Coliving Business

How to set up the ultimate coliving space to host digital nomads and remote workers.

'OK, I want to set up a Coworksurf or make an equally rad coliving space. What do I have to do?'

Coliving Space Bali
Coliving Space Norway
Coliving Space Sri Lanka
Coliving Space Portugal
Let my people go surfing
Surf Norway
Well, we really value our 3 core pillars; community, work, and surf --> Coworksurf. ​
We divided our 30 tips below into those three categories. The first and possibly most important is the community.
Here's a few things we've learned along the way about creating a good community!


Group Surf
Coworking in Bali
Coworking Community Puerto Escondido, Mexico
1. Set out house rules in advance for your space
Here are our example house rules. Feel free to amend for your space.
🌊 Have fun - yyewwwpaaaaaaa
🌺 ​Be kind - Everything flows when you’re kind.
🤲 Help out - Help and listen to others. Share and include. Do your dishes and clean up after yourself. If we all add to creating the best experiences, everyone benefits.
Also, as a bonus, we’d love it if you can support the local community where needed, help nature and start / continue on your own social project(s). Most people in the group love giving back as well, so let us know and we'll probably jump in with you :)
📆 ​Respect privacy - It can be intense to live in a house full of people. Take your own space if you need it, and give others theirs. Don’t mind skipping some group plans. Everyone knows we all sometimes need our own space to rest and recharge.
🐙 Be human - If there are any issues you experience or love you want to share, please let us know, or fill out this short feedback form. Thanks for your time and energy!

2. Introduce people and make them feel welcome when they arrive.
Make sure you have someone (maybe you!) in a host role to greet people and introduce them to the other guests. As part of this intro, process let them know that it’s nice to greet the next guests when they arrive too. The quicker you can make your guests feel like a family and answer each other's questions about the best places to get breakfast, coffee, ATMs etc the less work you will have to do as a host and the more your community will self-manage.

3. Physically design your space to be as conducive to community as possible
Plan the coworking space somewhere fairly central to your set up and create some simple rules in the coworking spaces to help, eg quiet area or social area so people feel happy they are not distracting other people by talking.

4. Have a central common or social area
Perhaps near the kitchen? Or somewhere with a few comfy seats.

5. Put up a weekly schedule whiteboard with group activities
Allow/encourage people to sign up to certain events so they know something is happening as a group.

6. Play a small intro game or ice breaker
Any time a new community member arrives it can be fun to get everyone together that evening just for 5 minutes to say hey

7. Make a Whatsapp group
Create a Whatsapp group for your location that allows all guests to talk to each other and answer each others questions. As a Coworksurf location guests will automatically receive an email invite to join the relevant Whatsapp group upon booking and are told they can say hello before they arrive so they get a nice soft welcome.

8. Invite them to an alumni-type page
An invite to the coworksurf crew facebook page is also automatically sent for all of our locations.

9. Incorporate some group activities
Our Coworksurf locations try to incorporate some of these. They are naturally good community builders but you might want to think of different ones if you are not near a beach.

Set breakfast times (if included)
House meals
Drinks/social night
Music or jam night
Film nights
Interesting outside speakers
Group surf lessons
Group surf trips
Group yoga sessions
Mastermind sessions
Beach clean ups

This is so important. If there are not many guests to begin with or you are going through a slower phase try and bring in a volunteer or invite some friends with good vibes and introduce your guests to others from the local community or nearby accommodations. We have a facebook page of awesome talented volunteers our partner locations can tap into.

11. Open up to the wider community by setting up a localized facebook page for your area
If a super established one already exists then start contributing and holding events that encourage guests to mix with the local community and wider digital nomad community. If setting up your own page make sure it's inclusive and not just focused around your own brand. It's great to involve other coliving and coworking spaces because everyone usually enjoys meeting other people in a similar boat.

12. Set up a scheme or partner with a good cause locally
Encourage your guests to look into it so they feel a part of the local community.

Ok so that's Community. How about Work?
I asked one of our guests, Nick, what was most important to him about a coliving space, and he said the shared workspace. 'That's what separates it from hotels or hostels. Without one I don't think I would have booked.'

Coworking in Bali
1.Good table(s)
Nice fairly big group working tables are cool and so are little mini desks for more private work.

2. Natural daylight
This is a really nice feature which many places forget. But if you're working for 10-12 hours it's nice to have some daylight

3. Comfortable working temperature
Temperature is pretty vital for energy levels and focus. It gets hot in the tropics and cold in the Arctic. Can you keep your space at a nice working temperature?

4. Good office chairs
This is so important we've found. You don't need them in your space but it is a real reason people book.

5. Lots of plugs and extension chords
This is also important. Plugs, USB extensions etc. The more the merrier. House phone charging stations are always cool too as people lose cables all the time. Make people label their cables!

6. Whiteboards
For world start-up domination plans 😈

7. Secluded/silent/private work spot(s)
Some people want to do undistracted work.

8. Space for calls without waking other people up.
Some people need to Skype at 4am because of their job and timezones being a thing. A space where they can do this is a bonus.

9. Lightning fast, reliable Wifi ⚡
Should go without saying but in some parts of the world this can be more of a challenge than others. So be honest about your current wi-fi speeds.

10. Recording studio
Many guests who do creative work love having access to a good recording studio to record their podcasts, music, online courses, Youtube videos, etc.

Recommended bonus points:

- Inside / outside working spots.
- TV / projector to watch movies on or give presentations with.
- Different ways to work, e.g. sitting, standing up, lying down, lounging.
- Plants / close to nature.
- Universal plug adapters

And how about Surf?

Surf is absolutely vital to us at Coworksurf. It's at the very core of every decision we make and it's why we even chose to set up or pursue this remote work lifestyle in the first place.
Creating Coworksurf as a brand and now as a partnership model was to simply expand and accelerate the number of spots travelling surfers who had to work remotely could stay at with active and welcoming digital nomad communities. So home could be anywhere, depending on the swell.

Surf Mentawais
To be considered as a Coworksurf-friendly location you need to be no more than 15 minutes from a break.
Digital nomads can live anywhere in the world and whilst your location doensn't have to be directly on the beach/reef/boat/whatever (although this can help) why would people choose to be too far from a good surf spot?
Sometimes the beaches are a bit touristy and the accommodation is way too expensive in certain parts of the world and so a balanced decision needs to be made in terms of cost of living vs. access to the ocean, we get that but if you're an hour or two drive from the nearest surf you are not a Coworksurf.

1. Less than 15 minutes from the surf
Ideally on foot or with easy transport option available to all guests/bike/scooter etc. There are exceptions to this, if you're really well located in a central part of a peninsula and are surrounded in all directions by surf spots that work in all conditions but they might all be 20 minutes away then we'd make an exception.

2. Available surf equipment (where possible)
We know from experience it can be a hassle travelling with a board on local buses, multiple flights etc so we like Coworksurf locations to have a range of grab & go boards that people can just pick up or borrow whenever they like or failing this, easy access to longer term rental boards.

3. Access to local safety knowledge
We like our partner space owners/managers to be surfers themselves so they can advise and assist with safety. "If in doubt don't paddle out"

4. Available surf lessons (where possible)
We are NOT a surf school but many of our guests are just starting out and so easy access to surf lessons nearby or experienced local instructors is a bonus.

5. Group surf trips
We don't like to create insta-crowded line-ups but it's really nice if a space owner can help arrange or recommend transport options that allow a few people to head off on a little trip further afield together.

We also asked a few guests what Coworksurf means to them and they said:

Kelin: ‘Close to the beach, free surfboards I can use, good connection with local surfers and instructors.’
Lauren: ‘Sharing’
Olli: ‘Breaking the barriers of social.. Uhm what’s the word..?’
Me: ’Social uhm.. Inclusivity?
Olli: ’Inclusivity, yeah that sounds right!’

Alright, so lots of surf, sharing and inclusivity. Beautiful.

Why become a Coworksurf partner location?
We'll help market your space on our platform to get you longer staying awesome guests, and access to a ready made community. You get people to go surf with an amazing bunch of creatives, mentors and peers passing through your space. There is also no outlay or big investments required, we just take a flat 10% on all bookings. You set your own prices and specify what is or isn't available at your space.

We are flexible about working alongside other booking engines to begin with as long as the environment and community is conducive towards coworking friendliness. Ultimately this sector is growing massively and we'd love to be your top provider of clients.
Coworksurf can help with getting you clients so you can save time to focus on your own life and having fun with the guests.
For more info, check 'Become a host'.
Good luck!

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