Being part of an authentic, stable, and engaging community is crucial to the human experience and high quality of life. It gives us a sense of belonging and purpose, battles the feeling of loneliness, and promotes mutual support and personal growth, contributing to our individual and collective health and wellbeing of our society. Participating in a community bonded by common attitudes, values, and goals is an essential ingredient to enjoying a fulfilling life, allowing us to explore hobbies, shared interests, and ideas with other peers while fostering our own sense of individuality.
In the post-pandemic landscape, this is especially evident. People are searching for meaning in every aspect of life now more than ever. Especially millennials and Gen Z seek greater sense of belonging while missing their friends, network, and increasingly frequently working from home. Due to the decline in connectedness, loneliness, and FOMO (fear of missing out), mental health issues are on the rise. Businesses are also facing the need to learn how to build and manage communities remotely, both among their staff and customers.
Community building has therefore become a new strongly sought after value in the modern world, at the same time constituting a serious challenge. It takes not only know-how, but also purpose and diligent nurturing, application, and intuition to build a real community. Below, B-Hive Living shares a few key lessons learned from their journey to create an award-winning community experience. We hope they become useful tools for developing and strengthen your own community.
Do it for the right reasons
At B-Hive Living, we have made building community a core component of our purpose and mission. It is essential to make community part of your culture and be intentional about creating it. Otherwise the community aspect will come across as fake and backfire, like criticism of greenwashing in the case of talking about environmental issues solely for publicity.
The purpose of driving change in society by responding to the two great challenges we currently face: affordable housing and loneliness, is very close to our hearts, personally and professionally. Both our founders were born in cultures rooted in vibrant family and social life, celebrating living well through music, food, fitness and culture. Those early experiences shaped their belief that a life well lived starts at home and the secret sauce is the people that surround you. It is by connecting with something larger than ourselves – a community – that we achieve our best life.
We believe coliving homes should not simply be a place to rest your head. It should be an experience that elevates human condition through community and wellbeing-led design and build. We endeavour to create an empowering space for residents to lead a healthier, more connected and fulfilling lifestyle, and everything we do is designed for that goal. Building a great community is top priority to achieve those goals. Meaningful relationships can only be built through genuineness.
Nurture connection every step of the way
We are a social species, hence one of our most basic human needs is to connect with other people. That’s why at B-Hive Living we never miss a chance to create opportunities and deliver strategies to bring people together.
On a daily basis, the shared spaces in the Hives invite togetherness through their design: comfortable kitchens for multiple users, fitness facilities for group activities, garden firepit for encouraging bonding and storytelling are just examples of such solutions.
Different Hives benefit from an even larger social network through our programme of monthly events that encourage residents to get to know one another in an informal way. The rich calendar of social experiences co-created with our Hive Ambassadors inspires fun, connection, and a healthier way of living. Such a co-creative approach allows for adapting our event calendar to the needs and mood of our community.
Find your niche and get to know your audience
Great communities don’t just develop overnight – they take time, concentrated effort, positivity, and planning. It’s important to have a clear view of who your members are and how to engage them so that you can put the right plan in place.
Over the years, we’ve developed a robust understanding of the resident profile that best fits our community, and developed relevant matching criteria implemented in our stringent vetting process. While diversity is key to stimulate learning and avoid apathy, bringing like-minded people together helps them to find commonalities more quickly. Our two-way curation process is designed to determine whether the prospective resident is the right fit for our community and vice-versa.
We’ve also designed a series of touch points to ensure we remain in close contact with our residents while allowing for quiet enjoyment of their homes and community. This helps us get to know our residents more closely. Newcomers are provided with a welcoming and smooth experience from the outset, from their introduction to the community before check-in, through a personal welcome by our community manager on site, including receiving information on their rights as a tenant in the UK alongside a welcome gift, to being introduced to their property Hive Ambassador who is another resident, and an invitation to a welcome dinner. The same personal touch and support is given to the offboarding process upon giving notice.
Be prepared to go beyond what’s normal
When nurturing community is your purpose, you are naturally prepared to go beyond the call of duty to support your community. Our team work during the pandemic was a testament of that. In those difficult times we implemented a number of solutions to make the lives of our residents easier and more comfortable, such as access and personal guidance from a wellness team composed of life, nutrition, and fitness coaches, as well as access to a dedicated series of “Wellness Hacks” content. They were simple and practical bite size strategies for our residents to enhance and optimise their health, wellbeing, and productivity during those difficult times.
These efforts were reflected in the attitudes of the residents. For example, we had a few NHS doctors working on the pandemic front line working long hours treating Covid patients. Over many weeks, their fellow residents took turns to cook meals for them to alleviate their burden. It is most rewarding when your passion for making others’ lives better is shared within the community you support.
Leverage technology to deliver a consistent and smooth experience
The community of B-Hive Living is also strung together by technology to make communication as smooth as possible. All residents are connected and made accessible to each other through our recently launched community engagement app.
Each resident has their profile with a mini-biography describing their skills, passions and activities they’d like to be contacted for. In the app, residents can communicate with each other, create sub-groups by property, interests, or hobbies, sign up for events, access discounts at local affiliated outlets, and much more.
Don’t do it alone
Our Hive Ambassadors among residents play a crucial role in building bridges and maintaining a positive vibe between our Hive communities. Ambassadors are there to engage, connect, educate and facilitate the commitment of residents to the shared values of our community. They among other things help the B-Hive team create relevant events, share information on upcoming events with fellow Hivers, and support the onboarding of new residents. They also share key messages and learnings from in-house dynamics and past events with the B-Hive team to suggest improvements on the overall experience. We do take that feedback seriously and do what we can to constantly adjust the experience to the current needs.
The needs of the community are organic and ever-changing. Hence it is important for our founders to seek to be present and engaged with its members. After 6 years of activity, we still personally get involved in the onboarding of residents, and often cook their first meal ourselves. Staying in close touch with the community in a variety of ways is the key to successful experimentation and trying out new solutions based on first-hand feedback. This allows for thinking out of the box, ease of innovation, and picking up trends as they arise to be on top of things at all times.
Nurturing positive and healthy communities is needed more than ever in the modern society. Community is essential for our potential as individuals and society to flourish. At B-Hive Living, we’re doing a part, and we hope you leverage some of those ideas to follow suit and create your own approach to building a thriving community and a better world to live in.
B-Hive Living is a wellness-focused coliving brand operating properties in Oxford and Bicester, UK, and now expanding internationally. We drive social change by exploring and promoting the concept of living well. We place it at the heart of our coliving design for a more connected, healthy and fulfilling lifestyle for our residents.