Figuring out what technology your workspace needs can be a painful process.
But my advice would be it’s well worth while navigating that pain and investing in fully automating your space.
There’s no one size fits all though, so before you dive in you’ll need to consider these three factors:
Your business model – How you plan to monetise the space and the members will have a direct impact on what technology you’ll need. Will you offer day passes? What amenities will you offer? Will you provide Virtual office services? Etc.
Your target audience – if for instance your target audience are techies then it will be important to choose member apps that give a great digital experience.
What plans you have to scale (if any) – if you’re a small to medium sized operation then the best strategy is to select a white label coworking management platform with a blend of additional tools tagged on. I’d argue this will be more than sufficient to grow a multi-venue coworking business. So we’ll focus on these sized operations in this article.
Here are the five major advantages to automating your workspace and investing in tech:
1.Give members a hassle free and easy experience
Members pay a premium so that the hassle of running an office is taken out of their hands. They want easy access to all of the benefits that come with a workspace – at the touch of a button.
With a good tour booking system they can book an open slot in a Community Manager’s diary without needing to wait for the manager to reply.
With the right meeting room booking system members can view available slots, book and get charged all within a few seconds.
Members might decide they need a day pass for a guest arriving in an hour, and with automated systems this is achievable.
People are busy and time is their most valuable asset so the ability to move quickly is imperative.
2.Reduce and streamline your operational workload
One of the major benefits to your workspace being fully automated is the reduction in operational workload for Community Managers. And the more you can reduce this, the more they will enjoy their lives. And the more they will be able to invest directly in the members.
A good coworking management platform will achieve most of the core operational activities.
These tools are one-stop shops for your core tech needs, as they tend to incorporate a broad range of functionality to support shared workspace operations (invoicing, billing, members directory, meeting room booking, basic CRM) and most allow plug-ins from the other tech you’ll need (cloud accounting software, door access control, printing etc).
Virtual Services are a good example of where Community Managers can get bogged down without the necessary tech support.
Having a proper mailroom management system (such as SphereMail) in place means a Manager is not spending all day handling post, communicating with members about deliveries or manually charging for additional virtual office services you may want to offer.
3.Understanding how members use the space
Customer feedback is important – but often what people say they do isn’t actually the same as what they actually do. So monitoring behaviour is as important as gathering feedback.
Door access control systems (such as Kisi) integrate with coworking management platforms to show you when, and how often, members use the workspace.
This information comes in particularly useful in establishing how many Hot Desking memberships you can sell relative to the capacity you have in the building.
4.Connect members to one another
I remember making an introduction at a ‘Lunch and Learn’ event we put on. I introduced two members (from the same building) and the conversation between them went something like this:
Mark: Nice to meet you
Claire: Hey, nice to meet you
Mark: What do you do?
Claire: I run a digital marketing agency, specialising in SEO
Mark: No way – I’ve been searching high and low for SEO help!
Claire: Great! I can’t believe we’ve not met, how long have you been a member here for??
Mark: Over a year.
Claire: Me too!!
You get the picture.
Not a moment I was entirely proud of. Largely since I’d been waxing lyrical about the collaborative and community benefits of coworking earlier that same day!
Of course you can’t take responsibility for connecting every member to another useful contact. But you can make the opportunities for cross pollination a lot more likely to happen – and digital connectivity plays a key role in this.
There are three categories of digital connectivity for members:
Forums/dashboards; Most coworking management software solutions provide a members directory feature. This provides an easy and intuitive way for members to start a conversation just by clicking on an icon located in their coworkers’ profile.
Real-time chats; creating a slack channel for your workspace gives members another easy way to contact the community throughout the day.
Social media; When it comes to social connectivity, Facebook and Linkedin both allow you to create groups – giving members an opportunity to digitally ‘meet’ one another and share their own content. They also score high in member visibility, messaging and notification options.
As far as real-time chat and social media goes, it’s wise to meet people where they are. In digital terms this means figuring out what established technology platforms your audience already use and hopping on the bandwagon.
5.Connecting members to Community Managers
Having a real time communication tool for members to communicate with Community Managers is extremely helpful.
Relying solely on email doesn’t really cut the mustard. Here’s why:
- Ticketed software systems prevent Managers getting overwhelmed, by allowing them to deal with issues one at a time.
- You want to make it as easy as possible for people to make a fuss! Often members won’t report a building issue. Either because they can’t be bothered (and understandably it’s not really their job) or because they’re too British to complain. Having a feature on the app that allows people to log issues like faulty coffee machines or broken lights reduces the friction and allows members to be your eyes and ears.
Investing in your tech stack and having a well thought through strategy is well worth it.
But the last thing I’d say is you don’t want to spend endless months deliberating which platforms to choose and getting bogged down.
No platform will be perfect. No platform will match your workflow 100%. So to try and avoid ‘analysis paralysis’ on the decision, Demo three options that fit most of your criteria – and then just choose one.
I hope that’s helpful. Please feel free to get in touch if you need advice or support.