05 Apr Operations: What Do We Do??
The Operating Challenge
Coworking or flexible office spaces are opening up all over the world at a rapid rate. In a round table discussion at GCUC USA in Denver this month, Instant Offices shared data on what people are looking for in a coworking space [read HERE]. What people are looking for are great factors to consider in your brands operations. It comes back to the value proposition you are going to offer the community you are surrounded by.
As you may know, there are many choices to make when you begin to define how you will operate. Part of your operational choices may stem from your Space Management Software choice [you can read about that HERE]. This list is certainly not all encompassing in the least. As a consultant, I see challenges across different brands and these are often areas that are brought up.
- Benefits –Member benefits are a key aspect of coworking spaces. This is a part of the Value Proposition that your space brings to the members.
- Events — Activity within the membership and also out in the community brings life to the space. Having a consistent in and out flow is a key life sign.
- Conference Rooms — Opening the meeting rooms to members can be a challenge. Add in non-member bookings adds potential revenue, but also another challenge.
- Terms — Membership terms are a key foundation. Agreement lengths and what kind of flexibility will you allow for people wanting to leave.
Member Benefits draw people in, there is no doubt. As the coworking movement grows there are so many opportunities to partner with other companies that are hitting this area out of the park.
- Included.co – Join the buying power of over 461 business communities with a Member Benefits site. Already integrated with Nexudus, you just have to create an account for your space.
- Deskpass – An app that allows coworkers access to locations all over. Sign your space up to be a part of this movement.
- Local Benefits – partner with local restaurants/gyms/shops for discounts and referrals for your space.
- In House Benefits – included conference room time with memberships, phone line, excellent coffee, tea, water, comfortable and functional furniture.
Events is a full time job in of itself. As I worked and help operate a location, I personally know that time that is involved in creating, planning, and executing events can take. Owners, keep this in mind when you hire people. Running events is not something your Community manager and assistant can do long term if you want this to take off fully and have a life of its own so to speak. The demands of the space are enough daily, that time can be limited.
However, events are a key part of bringing the community in and also adding value to the members who are there and to potential members. Sponsoring a Venture Pitch, connect with your local Young Professional groups, have members host events for their business, and also be a place for wellness activities. Theses all add value to your existing community and the community that you are in. As an industry we want to be one that leaves more than we take.
I would say that the level of frustration that I experienced was high. Running a space and dedicating a lot of time to demos and then trials of the platforms definitely caused some stress.
Choosing a platform and then putting it into implementation, is also not for the faint of heart. If you don’t have someone who can dedicate their time to learn it all and work with the company to roll it out, this will be a process that you’ll need to set a good portion of time to as well. All in all, you have potentially spent 2-3 months on research, demos, and then trial to make a choice. Next, you have the migration and implementation time period, 4-6 weeks depending on what you are migrating from.
As an owner or space manager this is a big decision for your location as your members’ experience is also tied to the platform you choose. If you can, hire a consultant that can help you navigate the choices and bring your space into operation with the software you choose.
Your membership terms and conditions are a foundation of how you intend to operate. It sets the tone for what you expect of your members – the do’s and don’ts – and also protects your location. I would encourage any space owner/operator to get into forums and read about issues that other spaces have or have had. These situations often will help give you in sight in to what to include in an agreement. One area that is popular, is with your offices, if you have a 6 or 12 month term agreement (or longer), add a clause that they can leave sooner, but with a penalty, like keeping their last month and/or their set-up fee. This gives your space a market of true flexibility with no long term contract. Giving your members a way out with some kind of notification required helps companies be comfortable enough to join knowing that IF something did happen, they can leave. That assurance of funds also gives you a cushion so you have time to fill the office.
Over time your operations may change, but starting off with a solid foundation gives you something on which to build your band and membership base from. There is much more to operations for a coworking or flexible office space as these were only a few points to consider. If you are struggling to get off the ground or are looking at reorganizing, I’d be happy to consult with you on your needs and help you build on what you have established.