Many of the folks that I consult with in the cowering world have been in the hospitality business in some respect. Some are working on their additional locations, some own apartments or office buildings or come from a developer’s mindset. Not many have had the chance to both be a coworking operator and a coworking member and this month I will give you some insight from a member’s experience.
Companies within coworking spaces want the following things.
Community. People join these beautiful spaces for serendipitous moments. While we have lots of work to accomplish to continue building our empires we also appreciate the connections that can be made. If a team member of the community can make introductions or offer events with a purpose this will help create authentic networking that will grow our relationships, the coworking community and the value that I get from having a membership here.
Ease. I love that my team members get an orientation when they join a coworking space since I value the setting of expectations on both sides of having run spaces and as a member working at spaces, but make it easy. Appreciate folks time and make mandatory things quick and efficient. When you have news to share make sure it is accessible in many different formats like the back of bathroom stalls, in email and on messaging services. I want to be a good member, so make it easy for me to be one.
Affordability. People are running businesses and many of these are just starting out so cash flow is very important
Transparency. I understand that you need to make money, and want the prosperity for all involved. Be sure to convey costs upfront. There is nothing worse than paying for a membership and thinking I have my budget all aligned and then getting slammed with small charges here and there that I didn’t plan for.
Flexibility. Companies are growing and often don’t know how slowly or quickly. Not all spaces can do this, but whenever possible encourage discounts for growth, or incentives to stay in the space as they grow their business. If that is not an option just creative enough options of memberships and uses of the space can work as well.
To get shit done. At the end of the day I have a lot of work to get done to make sure that I am meeting deadlines and client’s needs. I love that our coworking space offers yoga, and happy hours and all the other fun activities in the space, but don’t make folks feel bad when they should turn down a fun event to meet a deadline. In Denver one of the biggest complaints I hear about the local WeWork locations is that they harass folks into joining a happy hour that people felt bad enough to actually go due to the peer pressure, that is not the word of mouth you want to be passed around.
With my clients one of the biggest questions is “which member management platform do I use?”. The hard part about this question is that each space is different, in not every platform is going to be the perfect solution for that operator. Some key differences include:
With technology changing every month I still do demos with companies that are targeting the coworking market to ensure that I am staying up to date with what is out there and ensuring that I am giving my clients the current information for their needs. Make a list of what is most important to you and bring those to the demo. Some areas to consider:
Here are a few companies to get you started in your research:
10 Reasons you should NOT get into coworking:
10. If you...have a scarcity mentality.
9. If you...can’t deal with autonomy.
8. If you...spell it co-working. It is coworking!
7. If you…think you are going to be the next WeWork, and can’t see past all that funny money.
6. If you...have some old real estate and you just need to fill it and believe that literally any tenant will do.
5. If you ...don’t care about the success and growth of others. Your members are going to grow to be your family and that better matter to you.
4. If you…don’t know how to think creatively. Situations will arise that you have never encountered and never wanted to, you must be ready to think outside the box.
3. If you…think that your Community Manager is a receptionist and NOT a rockstar.
2. If you…don’t understand the term “community” and how powerful it can be to build your business and all your members as well.
1. If you…don’t know how to act as the janitor, CEO, events planner and website designer all at the same time, and all while smiling.
After the last few years of meeting various developers, entrepreneurs and opportunists that think of coworking and only see the dollar signs I have realized that this is not an industry for everyone. It is an amazing industry, one that as a consultant I get to see the ins and the outs, the good and the bad. If your heart is not in it for the right reasons, if you are not passionate about connecting people and making really, really big things happen while being very nimble then this is not for you!
BUT, if you are ready to suck up a rough start, like any business beginning, and want to create something really powerful while helping everyone succeed then go forth and work for a coworking space, run a coworking space and get into this industry. This industry is for the doers, the folks that don’t accept the status quo and for those that understand that it is really, really hard, but oh so worth it.
.Hiring is one of the most time consuming things a company will do, but clearly the most important. Companies need to put their time and effort in equally to interviewing and training. Today we will highlight interviews.
When Interviewing there are many things that you should be doing, but here are a few to get you started when you are short on time and want a high return of your time an energy investment of getting a new team member:
When people walk through Enterprise coworking space, the most recent space I designed, for the first time, whether it is a client, a guest, or a prospective member we constantly are hearing great feedback and even better questions on the design of the space. The conversation typically goes into where we got certain pieces of furniture, why we chose a fabric color or how it is all organized. Most won’t realize the infinite amount of attention that went into every detail, but isn’t that the point. The small touches that go so very far. Some not so common questions, with real design intent:
Why don’t the stools have backs? At our standing height communal tables there is a small lip, but not a back on the stools. This allows people to have the chance to sit and rest for a moment, but discourages sitting too long so their body naturally tells them when it is time to stand again.
Why did you make a library. We create a quiet space, called the library, and unlike our other common areas it actually has a door to close. People are often confused as to why there would be such a space. When you think that we have 66,000 square feet you soon realize that the kitchen, lounges, rooftop, video game room, and other common areas offer the collaboration that people so desire when coming to a shared workspace, but what about when you have to 100% focus and be fully present in your work? The library creates an environment that allows for full quiet and for others to shsshh as needed in true library fashion.
Why are all the kitchen tables on wheels? This is a no brainer. Our massive kitchen can quickly convert to an event space and we want that transition to be easy. By having all the high top and café tables with locking casters we can quickly unlock and roll away to setup for a pitch competition, holiday reception party, or an epic game of duck-duck-goose. While not every day is going to be an event day, the versatile tables also enable members to move them about as their lunch group grows.
While there are countless ways that you can think about how to design the right workplace, I hope this sneak peak inspires you to look at your spaces and furniture as an opportunity for creating the best work environment possible for you, your team and your community.
I have had the pleasure to talk with many owners and operators of both coworking spaces and cutting edge offices and so often they want to know what is going to create a more collaborative, efficient and productive work environment for all of their employees. You always have to remember while millennials are the main focus on most peoples minds, you have to realize that there are still Gen Xers and Baby Boomers in the workplace and you have to ensure that you are making it a great place for everyone.
1) Believe in the individual. Employees want to know that you are invested in them. For people later in their lives they want to know that you are creating the opportunity for flexibility to take the day off for their child's soccer game or to take care of an aging relative, while a younger person may want the benefits of an on-site gym, or a yoga instructor coming into the office. Making sure you are listening to what they really want is ensuring your saving tie and money on what people really believe are perks.
2) Help the collective. When people are empowered to enhance the place around them, they will. Everyone can benefit from growing both choice and autonomy. I agree that design of a space and furniture is important, but you want people to do is move around the items you place, evolve the environment and take ownership. From operations to furniture make sure you are curating this collective evolution.
3) Offer many work zones. The thing that drives me crazy is when space decision makers think that adding a "keg and ping pong table" will make their office fun, they couldn't be more wrong. Each office has the introvert, the extrovert, the loud talker, the need for quiet, etc. By ensuring that you create a space that enables all of these people to be their most productive is ideal and easy.
Click to set custom HTML
I love to talk and equally love to write. Here I will share tips and tricks that I have learned along the way.