Cool Coworking Space Spotlight

Why community managers matter IRL and online

Catherine Hover of Palette Community talks best practices for blending in personal and virtual culture.


There are two distinct categories of coworking spaces: physical and virtual. But Palette has blended the two — with significant impact. We wanted to know more, and thankfully founder Cathering Hover was willing to sit down and share her story. She recently launched a third location in upstate New York — her plate is full and her calendar is booked, but she didn’t hesitate to have a conversation.

“Maybe 10% of our members use the space like a traditional coworking space,” she shared. “They're not all here every day all the time. They're popping in for coffee and one-off meetings, or to facilitate a Zoom call.”

The virtual community is built around a platform called Circle, which enables digital events and messaging. And while the physical community gets to enjoy Hoven’s distinctively colorful and warm aesthetic, she’s the first to point out that how a space looks isn’t the most important factor.

CatherineHover_headshot“It's great that the space is nice and beautiful and stuff, but what’s more important is that there's always someone here facilitating the space and making sure that people are comfortable. People are attracted to Palette for the sense of authenticity, for the personal development opportunities, for the social engagement that they were really missing out on. 

“We just opened in June 2019. So, in my opinion, we hit the nail on the head as far as timing goes. We were able to respond to people really feeling isolated. Plus, we offered a real return on the investment for our members because we help create goals and milestones. We advance with them together using leveraging the community to connect each other. Relationships take time, but you can facilitate the process if you have someone really good.

“When you join Palette, you don’t just get a door code to get into the space. We want to figure out what you're about, what you're working on. And we don't assume everyone wants to be in the position that they're in! So we see a lot of people network with each other and end up switching careers, buying companies, and collaborating with other members.”

When the Coworks team was at the Global Workspace Association event, we sponsored the community manager awards. And people talked about what makes their community manager so special. Hover agreed the role is just as important in a virtual world.

“It’s having somebody in the community that knows you, and that logs in, says, “Hi!” They don't necessarily have to do anything other than see you when you come in and know who you are. But the platform can give us more data to help inform the relationship, identifying that it’s been, say 18 days since you checked in, We’re making sure that people are just being thought of and that they know it. People need people.

“You can't just sell ‘community.’ You have to love it, and you have to demonstrate it every day.”

Many spaces measure success by member number growth. At Palette, success is measured by member’s personal and professional growth. It’s a unique KPI, but they find it works.

“We measure our success by how well people grow within our community. We see collaborations and consultations. We keep it very in-house, but it’s one of our most important signals.”

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