OpenSpace Community is celebrating our one-year anniversary throughout October, and we’ve been reflecting on the year. We officially launched the OpenSpace Community at our 2021 Waypoint customer summit—our annual virtual event gathering OpenSpace customers, industry luminaries, and members of our team. Since then, the Community has grown into what it is today thanks to the foundation set by the OpenSpace Pathfinders and Community Founders group and the constant feedback we receive from Community members.
It All Started With the OpenSpace Pathfinders
Having come from construction before joining OpenSpace, I knew that the construction industry is a tight-knit network that thrives when like-minded individuals work toward common goals. At OpenSpace, we also recognized that our power users and champions were doing so much for us. They were using our product heavily and providing us with invaluable product insights, spreading the word about OpenSpace to other industry professionals, and spearheading OpenSpace training for their teams. We thought that by partnering with these top OpenSpace users, we could learn so much and collaborate to continue making OpenSpace a better product for their projects and their careers.
So we started our Pathfinder Program in 2020 (before launching the OpenSpace Community). I started building relationships with these power users and champions—our “OpenSpace Pathfinders.” Our OpenSpace team connected with them through emails, video calls, and virtual roundtable discussions. I learned that Pathfinders not only found value in being more easily connected to the OpenSpace team, but they were also seeking to connect with each other. So we gathered their ideas and began building the online OpenSpace Community as a space for our users to connect with and learn from each other, while also collaborating with the OpenSpace team to push for innovation in construction technology.
We invited the Pathfinders to be part of the Founders group during the Community’s soft launch. These individuals were the first members of the online OpenSpace Community, testing everything we built and providing feedback on what worked and what didn’t. With the Pathfinders and Founders group, we really set the foundation for the Community to be #BuiltForYouByYou.
Building the OpenSpace Community online
We launched the OpenSpace Community in 2021–right in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic–which meant we needed to build our Community online. The program is grounded on three pillars: helping construction professionals connect, learn, and innovate. Here’s how these objectives came to life:
We built discussion forums in the OpenSpace Community to facilitate the open conversations our Community members were looking for. They wanted a place to build relationships with industry professionals outside of their own projects and companies, and we were pleased to provide a space where those relationships could flourish.
While the Product & Usage forum is the most popular—filled with general discussions about the OpenSpace product, including use cases and handling of product support issues—the Community & Events and Industry Chat & For Fun forums also see a lot of activity, demonstrating that our Community members want to connect beyond their passionate discussions about OpenSpace.
Inspired by ideas thrown around in these discussions, we’ve hosted many online competitions in the Community as well, adding more fun to the Community relationship-building! One of my favorite examples of a Community-driven competition is our Easter Egg Hunt, which drew a lot of participation and was inspired by a discussion thread titled “Any OpenSpace ‘Easter eggs’ in your captures?” Dante DeFazio, Project Manager at Clark Nexsen Construction, asked the Community for any fun accidental items they may have found in their OpenSpace captures. Then Jeff Manders, Senior Virtual Construction Engineer at Kitchell, shared his story of purposefully using OpenSpace to hide shamrock “Easter eggs” as a Field Note training tool for his team.
Armed with such creative ideas from our Community members, the OpenSpace team pulled together the Easter Egg Hunt competition to train Community members on various sections of the OpenSpace Community, website, support center, and social media. One of the competition participants shared, “As I [was] hunting my eggs, it made me truly take the time to explore on the Community platform and [I] got sidetracked with some interesting reads more than a few times.”
The OpenSpace Community offers opportunities for OpenSpace users to connect with each other, and learn from each other. The Advocacy section of the Community showcases Project Highlights, Customer Features, and Pathfinder Spotlights.
While OpenSpace is a fairly easy tool to learn, our Community members always strive to learn ways they can use OpenSpace to have a greater impact on their jobsites. From the beginning, Community members asked for opportunities to learn from other projects and other companies so they could discover new ways to get the most out of OpenSpace. This is why our Project Highlights are so valuable. They highlight OpenSpace use cases for different types of projects and companies, making it easy to cross-learn in the industry. Project Highlights contain useful tips and tricks that can guide all OpenSpace users.
As power user Cameron Wahl, Senior Technology Specialist from Balfour Beatty, said at the Community launch, “I know that I’ve learned a thing or two, even on just simple things, where I read it and I thought ‘Wow, that was really simple but super helpful. I can’t believe that I didn’t think of that.’”
Beyond projects and use cases, we showcase individual Community members through Customer Features and Pathfinder Spotlights. Exceptional construction professionals get the recognition they deserve, and other Community members can learn from these individuals’ career journeys and achievements. You can check out all of our published Pathfinder Spotlights in the OpenSpace Community gallery. If you’d like to be a Pathfinder, we invite you to submit a Pathfinder application today!
Power users and champions formed the initial core of the OpenSpace Community, so it makes sense that one of their main objectives was to develop a closer partnership with the OpenSpace Product team and to help shape the product with their insights. So when launching OpenSpace Community, we held online product roundtables on specific topics that had the most traction in the discussion forums. While this was a great start, allowing for a deeper dive into themes that the Community cared most about, we needed an open platform to enable a continuous flow of product ideas between the Community and the Product team.
In response, the OpenSpace Community team partnered with our Product team to launch the Product Ideas beta in the Community. (Note: Ideation in the Community is only accessible to registered Community members who are OpenSpace users.) Members use this area to post their product ideas and feature requests, have discussions about them, and upvote each other’s best ideas. The Product team keeps a close eye on these submissions and takes the Community voice into consideration as they develop the product roadmap. While the Product Ideas beta only became available in July 2022, it has quickly become the most popular feature of the OpenSpace Community.
Taking the OpenSpace Community from Virtual to In-Person
In 2022, as the online OpenSpace Community grew and members got to know each other through activities and conversations in the online space, we noticed a growing desire for in-person gatherings. We were thrilled to make this happen!
So far we’ve hosted several regional happy hours, bridging the gap between the virtual and real worlds. We also hosted our first-ever Innovation Day, a partnership between OpenSpace Product/Engineering teams and the OpenSpace Community.
At this invitation-only event, Community members spent a full day collaborating with the OpenSpace Product and Engineering teams. Power users participated in brainstorming sessions to narrow down the most pressing industry challenges and propose creative solutions with OpenSpace. Users also discussed their product ideas and feature requests and shared them with the OpenSpace Product and Engineering teams. And there were plenty of opportunities to learn from one another as people shared unique ways their teams use OpenSpace. One Innovation Day attendee captured the spirit of the event this way: “OpenSpace really does care about delivering a product that has features that their customers want, not just giving them things that they think are helpful.”
What’s Ahead for the OpenSpace Community?
Our first year has been incredibly successful, thanks to our Community members. Every incremental improvement was due to ongoing engagement and feedback. In just one year, the space we created for online discussions and building connections has flourished. Now, it’s a thriving community of passionate construction industry leaders coming together to expand their networks and their careers, learn from each other’s experiences, and partner closely with the OpenSpace team to take construction to the next level.
And we’re not stopping there! You can expect a lot more evolution in the next year and beyond. We’re excited about what’s to come, including:
- Our inaugural OpenSpace Community Summit in early 2023.
- Hosting Innovation Days in different regions to enable more power users to collaborate in person with the OpenSpace Product and Engineering teams.
- Additional regional Community happy hours to bring members together and help them build their networks in person.
- New and varied opportunities for members to gain recognition in the Community as changemakers and leaders in the construction industry.
- Upcoming improvements to the online Community experience to make it even more valuable for our members.
Justin Haas, Project Controls from CEC Companies, perfectly summed up what you gain as an OpenSpace Community member: “As a newcomer to OpenSpace and to the construction industry in general, the OpenSpace Community has been a place where I’ve consistently leaned on to grow my own skill set through the inputs and experiences of others working in the same space. The value of the OpenSpace Community as a forward-thinking, steady, and reliable resource is tremendous, but beyond just the technical benefits, it’s been a great tool for me to network with people across the country who are tackling the same challenges day in and day out that I am—I love being an engaged member of the OpenSpace Community!”
If you’re not a member yet, we hope you’ll join us! Register here to start your OpenSpace Community journey.