Maintaining client community in a virtual world

Flexible Space Association members BE Offices, &Offices and Headspace Group have spent this year focussing on maintaining community engagement, an important part of pre-COVID life for their clients. Julie Tucker (PR & Corporate Social Responsibility Manager) details the lengths they have gone to in order to keep this going and the results that they've enjoyed as a consequence of doing so.

Life as we knew it took an unprecedented turn in March, resulting in unfamiliar challenges surrounding almost every aspect of our daily lives.

One of the most significant struggles was staying socially connected with face-to-face contact essentially cancelled for the last nine months.

Maintaining community engagement has been one of BE Offices’ principal objectives during this period, not the easiest of tasks at this stressful time, but something which we saw as a priority.

The BE Offices, &Offices and Headspace Group events schedule is dizzying in its vast array  and frequency of activities, but in March we switched everything online and created a virtual live events programme and numerous challenge events. With a timetable that offered something for everyone, be it Pilates or power yoga, barre fitness or boxing, live cookalong sessions or low impact circuit training. The programme proved to be extremely popular with clients, helping to structure their days and keeping them motivated.

Our inaugural challenge invited clients to send in a photo of their bake, themed in some way to thank the NHS. For every entry, we donated £10.00 to the amazing Corona Care Challenge, with a total of £300.00 raised for this incredible cause.

Keeping with the baking theme, we asked the community to send in their favourite lockdown recipes and created an E-Cookbook featuring a selection of easy and delicious dishes to share with everyone.

Competitions have also played a big part in maintaining engagement. From egg painting at Easter to our burger and pizza challenges, clients really got on board and won prizes which ranged from Amazon vouchers to Patty & Bun and Pizza Pilgrims DIY lockdown kits.

In July we were excited to enter a team in the Standard Chartered Virtual Great City Race. In preparation for the event, we assisted clients with a 5K in 6 weeks training programme and invited them to run 5K from home or wherever they were! This was a great opportunity for our clients to keep active and fit whilst training, greatly benefitting both their physical and mental health.

Our pets probably gained the most from lockdown and in turn they provided us with untold mental and physical health benefits with loyalty that knows no limits. We decided to celebrate our furry friends with a pet paw-trait competition which was fur-nominally popular, with the winning image of Delilah made in to a jigsaw puzzle for her owner.

National Teddy Bear Day in September saw another opportunity to engage clients with a fundraising element thrown in. We challenged clients to send us images of their favourite teddies and in return we donated £10 per teddy to Rays of Children’s Charity, raising £250 in the process.

We also supported Rays of Sunshine in October/November with our virtual fitness challenge which saw a team of client volunteers virtually journey from John O’Groats to Land’s End.

Other events have included the Macmillan Coffee Morning, a pumpkin carving challenge, the best loaded sarnie challenge and the great bake-off with Blondies Kitchen.

The COVID-19 situation clearly created many business challenges for everyone, but we’re looking forward to coming out the other side and being able to recommence in-person events at some point in 2021. In the meantime, we are receiving overwhelming daily responses to our 12 Days of Christmas Giveaways, with prizes ranging from a Hotel Chocolat Christmas hamper to a date night dinner for two.

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