The Hive Paonia’s New Format (Part 1)

By March 7, 2016COWORKING
By:  Hive Founder – Chris Yates
When we opened the Hive 2 years ago, the idea was to create a space that was more than “just an office building.”  We wanted to create a culture of collaboration where people could come together and create things, share ideas, and make a difference.  We achieved that by gaining over 100 members, hosting countless meetings, events, workshops, gatherings of all kinds, and seeing ideas become reality.  It’s been a lot of hard work, and we’ve had a lot of fun along the way.
If you’ve visited the Hive recently and noticed that the front door is always locked, there’s a good reason.  Originally, we wanted the space to be open during all business hours to create maximum “buzz” and really get things happening.  It worked.  The Paonia Chamber of Commerce moved into the front suite which brought all sorts of visitors to the space all summer long.  Countless locals came to workshops, community events, art exhibitions, and perused our space.
So, what’s the problem?
Last summer, we started hearing the same feedback from many of our members.  “I can’t get any work done here.”   Why?  “It’s too busy.  I feel constantly distracted.”   Yep.  Buzz overkill.   To resolve this, we tried building a second co-working room that was for quiet work space.  Unfortunately, making a room quiet can be more expensive than one would think, and it still doesn’t change the volume level of a half-dozen community members who come to socialize rather than work.  What’s more, is that we noticed the members who couldn’t get work done were the people who invested in full-time co-working memberships and had serious projects to focus on.  The “distractions” were mostly coming from well-intended, highly social non-member visitors, or members of our least expensive plans that enjoyed attending workshops and events but didn’t really need to utilize the space to get work done.
Hmm….  So, how do we serve everyone at once?  How do we provide focused work space and the highest quality experience possible while being open to the whole community?   Answer:  We don’t.
After conducting a financial analysis and surveying many of our members, we realized something very important;  About 80% of our revenue was coming from 20% of our consistent members.  Of the members and non-member community that contributed the other 20% of our revenue, they created nearly 80% of our overhead expense (coffee, increased need for cleaning, internet bandwidth consumption, utility usage, the need for employees to manage everything, etc.)!   The 80/20 Rule is REAL!!!
Now that we know what the problem is, how do we make the change?  How do we make sure that our members receive the value that they deserve, give them the focused work space that they need, while building a collaborative culture that invites the community to participate and holds The Hive as a gem of the town and acts as a magnet for other like-minded freelancers, entrepreneurs, and digital nomads?   Sometimes the best answer is the most simple one:
Step 1:  Lock the door  (80/20 Rule)  Only full-time members/tenants and event hosts have front door access.
Step 2:  Only One Membership Option (Attract the people who will be most committed to the business and culture.)
Step 3:  Re-Engage the Community
We are at Step 3 of the plan now.   From Step 1 and Step 2, our membership numbers are way down, but so are expenses.  The members that we see using the space most often are happy, productive, and feel that the space brings them more value now than it did before.  Re-engaging the community will be an educated experiment.  We know what worked before, and what didn’t, so we will now re-open the valve carefully until we have just the right temperature.
Watch our announcements in the near future.  You’ll see things like “Free Coworking Fridays,” a new format for our Coffee and Cocktail Colliders that will allow guest participation, special member events (guests welcome), and more.
Stay tuned for Part 2 of this update!   There is more to announce, but not just yet.  Soon you’ll hear about faster internet, sunlight in our Nectar Meeting Room, background music, new perks for members, and a few surprises.  To be continued….

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