Community Manager at our New Plymouth City location
The importance of community in the workplace: introducing our new community manager, Maruata!
Photo credit: Dom Prestidge
A workspace can be a powerful tool to improve employee experience, build stronger teams, and drive long-term growth. To achieve that, creating a sense of community in the workplace is critical - it is the sense of identity, of belonging; the feeling that we matter and share a commitment to meeting each others' needs.
Many businesses today have discovered that providing their customers with a community space is invaluable. It creates opportunities for customers to connect and discuss their products and services. At our work and community space in New Plymouth City, we provide exactly that.
This is all made possible by our Community Managers who set the vibe and sense of community that shapes experiences and turns workspace into a powerful tool for businesses of all sizes.
Today, we are delighted to introduce a new addition to our community management team in our New Plymouth Location, Maruata is an exciting young talent who has a great passion for building communities.
Maruata, haere mai, welcome to the team.
Tell us all about you, and your background?
Ko Taranaki te Maunga
Ko Aotea te Waka
Ko Patea te Awa
Ko Ngāti Ruanui te iwi
Ko Pariroa te Marae
Ko Maruata Ngarewa-Cribb Toku Ingoa
This year I completed Year 13 at Spotswood College. As a part of my schooling program, I was delighted to be the first community intern at Johnson Corner. It was an authentic way of learning future-focused skills while being mentored by an experienced and innovative team.
As part of my journey, I was fortunate enough to be selected into the Ngāti Ruanui coding and innovation group, 2UNICODE with 18 other students from around Taranaki. During this time we networked, developed ideas and went to Silicon Valley in San Francisco to experience first-hand, design thinking and problem-solving. Visiting Stanford University, Google, IDEO, and Berry Farms and engaging in design workshops in advance manufacturing, lab-grown meat, and self-driving cars was just phenomenal.
In 2017, I was involved in a scientific reef life project where we conducted research 15km off the Patea reef to study life beneath the sea. At this time, Parliament had announced that seabed mining was going to happen 15km offshore, impacting the whole community including swimmers, divers, fishermen, surfers but most importantly, the sea life. A group of 5 students went to Wellington and presented our findings to select Parliament, with the objective to protect the sea life and our coast.
I have been involved in voluntary work in schools in Indonesia and Fiji working alongside amazing young people. I have a real passion for innovation, diving, surfing, and youth empowerment. I believe experiential learning is one of the biggest advantages for my generation. I believe that a piece of paper (qualification) does not define whether or not you have the ability to do something life-changing.
Fascinating achievements and passion! Thank you! Take us through the role of a Community Manager at Johnson Corner?
Community managers are the stewards of a community in the workplace. They are responsible for developing a strategy to bring the employee experience to life. We do this by bringing intention, experience design, event management, and facilities operation, all with a human-centred approach.
At Johnson Corner, we have been integrating Tikanga Māori principles when welcoming members, making connections, and caring for our members - in our community management strategy, something I feel grateful to help make happen.
As community managers, we listen to our members’ needs and ideas, then connect them to someone who can help. Although we greet our guests with passion; we are not a concierge, instead; facilitators, connectors, energy creators, and experience designers.
As we develop a great sense of what our members want and need, we share learnings with their senior leaders so they better understand their employees’ needs. These insights enhance the employee experience.
Curating a suite of well stitched-together hospitality services is something we do as well. Bonding over healthy dining forms the basis of connections and can build meaningful relationships. For instance, we work with a local chef to serve healthy food to our members and their guests.
Small-moments matter. Instead of just focusing on big milestones, little interactions create deeper and enduring relationships. As community managers, we constantly think about how we can design experience for the little moments as well?
What is it about space design that enables an engaging community?
The design of a space has to encourage vulnerability, transparency, and courage. It also needs to be welcoming, flexible and convenient. Our design process creates the perfect opportunity for community managers to activate and reinforce the community as part of the workplace experience.
For example, a good amount of glass windows and activity-based open spaces increase frequent encounters and reduces the psychological distance for businesses and employees. This is a key feature of our location in New Plymouth City - members' customers walk-past and stop by for a conversation and these are the small moments that build relationships.
Our design also dedicates more space than the average office to the community experience by offering lounges, kitchens, and other common areas. Our corridors are narrower to encourage eye contact amongst passersby.
What type of businesses currently engage at
Johnson Corner in New Plymouth City?
We see businesses of all size and type engage at our workspace. We have; established enterprises (small & large) using our shared workspace as an off-site workspace, and a community space to connect with startups to drive innovation; corporates that offer our workspace as a satellite office for their remote or mobile teams; scaling startups that are looking for support services and connections to grow their business; freelancers who are looking for a community to work alongside, and; not-for-profits and social enterprises that are driven to do good in our city and region.
Are there any new projects for 2020 to watch out for,
from the community and design team?
Yes! we are all about constantly improving the experience we offer to our members and guests. Our New Plymouth Location has been operating just over a year now so we are looking for ways to improve the design and community activities.
More Hospitality Services. Hospitality in the workspace is an increasing global trend and we strive to bring the best workspace experience. Hence, we are working towards introducing a café that will offer coffee, breakfast and lunch. In New Plymouth, many businesses have meetings in cafes where there is a lack of privacy and unreliable wi-fi, but soon, they can access a cafe with premium coffee/food, and grab a meeting room for privacy - showcasing professionalism to their clients.
Semi-Private Spaces. Our current space has plenty of transparent glass windows as visibility creates more frequent interactions and reduces psychological distance. We want to balance this energy with a couple of semi-private spaces to enable more phone conversations and virtual meetings.
Summer 2020 Catering Menu. We believe dining over healthy food help forge relationships. This year, we began working with a local chef to curate a catering menu that suited our community members and the type of meetings that take place at Johnson Corner. We are continuing this in the next year with the launch of our Summer menu. The big introduction will be our plant-based menu which introduces high nutrition-based food directly from plants.
Member Exclusive networking. Curating regular get-togethers for our members is something we are working on improving for 2020. We see plenty of opportunities to further connect our members and activate our powerful community for the benefit of our members.
What are the main services Johnson Corner offer at its location in New Plymouth City?
We provide a set of solutions that work well for enterprises of all sizes in Taranaki.
Shared workspace. Enterprises can use our shared workspace as an off-site workspace or their permanent office space. The value of flexible lease terms saves businesses significant cashflow and fully-serviced spaces mean enterprises get to focus on their employees and clients, not office management.
Innovation space & services. We have a dedicated innovation manager who helps businesses to create new solutions for existing or new customers. We encourage enterprises to setup teams outside of their work environments and have them fully focused on creating new value. This offering also focuses on building new capabilities aligned with modern ways of working.
Satellite office. This solution is designed for travelling and remote workers who can use our professional shared workspace, instead of working out of their car and meeting in a cafe with unreliable wifi and no privacy. There are many businesses that travel to Taranaki regularly and businesses that are based outside of New Plymouth but have staff that live in New Plymouth. This solution works well for such enterprises.
Meeting Space. Over the last 12 months, we have hosted 500 meeting bookings. Our meeting rooms are great for off-site leadership sessions, client meetings, workshops, training sessions, design thinking, problem-solving, and more.
Event Space. This year, we have hosted 30 events, attracting a high number of attendees at every event. We offer our space bundled with event planning services for evening and weekend events. Our space can comfortably hold 100 attendees.
Private Office Suite. In the next year, we will aim to offer private office suites for small teams. This is an offering that caters for growing businesses who need a private workspace but also access our community space.
Custom Builds. We are now offering our expertise to large enterprises who are looking to renovate their office space or a floor, introducing new ways of working or a community space through human-centred space design, operation and activation.