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The Importance of Design and Implementation of Processes When Scaling Your Coworking Space

9 min read

Interview with Anna Jagric, 
Growth Specialist & Facilitator, and Director of Operations at BetterSpace

Regardless if you’re a coworking space with one successful location and you want to expand, or you want to implement the flexible concept into your serviced office space, you still have to go through changing your processes.

There’s always a challenge in knowing how to approach, design, and implement that change.

We sat down to interview Anna Jagric on the important steps and good practices that a workspace should have in mind when going through such transformation.

Anna has almost 10 years of consulting experience in terms of business processes improvement, change management, and implementation and use of technology. 

She has consulted numerous coworking spaces, starting with Impact Hub, and a lot of growth stage startups and SMEs. Her experience in finance and operations has helped many organizations adapt to growth, scale, and improve the way the work.

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Anna Jagric – Growth Specialist & Facilitator, and Director of Operations at BetterSpace

Balancing between the status quo and growth

Anna shares that investing in good processes takes time. Going back to the very beginning of your business – when you started your first location – you probably invested that time finding more renters or doing more conscious marketing and sales efforts instead.

Starting company, the steps that you take, are usually commonsensical. In most cases, you dive into the flow of day-to-day needs and that flow dictates your actions. Especially when your business is successful and grows rapidly and organically, often there’s no time to design processes.

You’re basically implementing straight away, responding to present-day demands, rather than thinking about how to design actual processes that will serve future growth.

That’s why, when an organization actually starts consciously thinking about growth and improvement, usually it already has a fully functioning business.

Scaling from this point requires almost imagining two businesses – the business that’s currently happening and the business that you want to achieve by improving.

Anna shares that there’s always a dance between looking after the day-to-day needs of a physical space, maintaining the status quo as it is, making improvements, and thinking about growth. This is real for any business that is scaling.

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How do you approach the improvement of processes

Improving old processes or establishing new ones requires a conscious approach of design and implementation which comes with a lot of difficulties.

“When you’re improving processes and ways of working, there’s always a challenge in knowing how to design that change, at what point do you move staff to the new processes, and knowing if the staff are ready to be involved in decision making or if you have to make executive decisions about the growth and the infrastructure without the frontline…“

To start the improvement process, it’s critical to understand how the organization is currently functioning and how the staff operates. The first step that you take should not be that strategic, but investigative.

Moreover, Anna feels that the frontline roles – usually receptionists, building or community managers – hold a lot of intelligence of the way an organization functions and engage with its customers.

“When I help companies improve their processes, I always spend time shadowing the staff. I try to understand how do they process their transactions; a new room renter, answering the phone, where that phone call goes afterward, where they keep information about all of the contracts.”

Having a holistic approach would help you to be more conscious and productive about the process of improvement.

“Instead of saying – there’s a nail over there and I’ll use a hammer. If you take a bigger picture view, from different perspectives, you understand there are more tools in the box. With different tools, maybe the nail looks different too. Your approach can be more considered.

Once you have enough insights on your current processes and what can be improved, it’s time to go strategic and align the change needed with the strategy and vision of your space.”

It’s from here that you start the design process.

Redefining team roles

When improving and scaling, not only should you change procedures, but you should think about how individual team roles align with that change.

“When you think about how coworking spaces have evolved – there’s so much more visitors need from a reception, for example.

A receptionist is no longer someone pointing them the direction or letting them through a locked door, or ringing someone to come and collect them.”

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In flexible workspaces, hospitality has become strongly incorporated. Anna supports the concept of hosting which expands the receptionist’ possibilities.

“By reframing the role, you change things like; “You will answer the phone and you’ll let people into the building” to “You’ll welcome everyone and you’ll make sure everyone has the right connections to everyone else”. Just the reshaping of the job description can open up so many more possibilities.”

Anna shares that being a host is more of a mentality than a list of responsibilities. When introducing this new concept, it might take 3 to 6 months before the staff really understand what hosting means to them.

Another role that might go through a change when improving processes is the building or facility manager role.

“The building is more than its physical bricks and pipes, to maintain the space requires thinking more broadly about the processes. You need to be able to understand how you maintain facilities, how you manage a booking system, how you communicate with people.”

Why contracts are in the middle of everything

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When asked about the important things to consider when scaling, and improving processes Anna shares that contracts play a remarkably important role.

“When you start making improvements, you have to consider your legal commitments. If you don’t get the contracts right from day one, and might not have considered the scope, and all different things this contract impacts, changing contracts once they are in effect, is very difficult.”

A perfect example of that is with room rental agreements when your members rent a room for an hour – do they have to exit it by the 55th minute or by the 59th, especially when there are two meetings in a row?

If that’s not written explicitly in the contract, it might cause a lot of friction in the meeting room booking and utilization process afterward.

And the people who experience difficulties, are most often the administrative staff. Friction often comes because the people who design the contracts and put things in place are not the people who have to administer them.

The impact of contracts on the day-to-day running of a business shouldn’t be underestimated. It’s important to think of contracts not only as legal documents but a way to understand the potential scope of improvements, this may limit and create challenges on change for the organization.

Engaging staff in the design and implementation process

When an organization goes through change, there’s always the question of whether you approach it top-down or bottom-up.

When asked which is the better approach, Anna says that both work and neither one is necessarily better than the other, a combination of both would be best.

“Everyone talks about inverting the classical top-down pyramid, but I think you need some kind of double-diamond approach. When you do good process improvement and process design, ideally, you should be sitting in the middle of those two triangles – top-down and bottom-up – and you should find a way to look upward and downwards.

Good process design and implementation involve all layers of the organization. You need to find a way to engage all stakeholders both in the design stage and the implementation stage.”

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Anna agrees that the ultimate decisions should be made at the top, with the decision makers going through a structured and thorough exploration of how the organization is currently functioning.

This includes how the staff are involved in the current processes, how the organization serves its customers, what should be improved, and why.

It’s also important considering how such change will integrate with the current systems, and how much of them should or can, in the first place, be automated.

People at the frontline, who’ll be directly affected by the change, should definitely have a say here. Asking questions and engaging anyone who wants to answer them is very important for the design and implementation process.

Coping with resistance to change

Anna finds that one of the challenges when establishing new processes is when people have resistance, with the mindset of “That’s how it’s always been. Why do we need to change?”.

“When you have a business that is a little bit more established, you’ll have staff that do things more classically, or are used to particular managing tool or a way of working, and won’t accept changes that easily.”

When asked where does resistance comes from, Anna shares it’s from fear and a lack of understanding.

“I wouldn’t want to associate what’s happening for them as simply an emotional process, but that’s often the first presentation of resistance. If it wasn’t an emotional one, it wouldn’t be resistance, but criticism, or ideas, or questions.”

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Anna suggests that the way to deal with it is by talking to your team and by asking them to explicitly and critically think about their concerns.

It’s about understanding the specifics of what it is that they think might not work about the potential change, what they enjoy about their current work and what they want to keep.

“A lot of companies underestimate the amount of relational work that needs to happen when teams go through change. You need to budget a lot of time in supporting people, asking them questions, and interviewing them and engaging them, including them in the process as much as feasibly possible.

Making sure they feel listened to, and understood, making sure that change is at the right pace for them.

You should know this will always take time from the immediate day-to-day operations, but it is essential for smooth and effective change in the longer term.”

Conclusion

Supporting the growth of your flexible workspace requires a conscious approach of design and implementation of a whole new system of processes.

It’s essential to examine how your organization is currently functioning, redefine procedures and roles, and engage staff in the change process.

Having a holistic and structured view of your business is what will help you to create meaningful, effective and profitable change, from which both you and your customers will benefit.


Did you enjoy reading through this post?

✅ 👉 You might also like our blog post Opening a Second Coworking Location: What to Consider and How to Deal with the Main Challenges where you can learn how to deal with the main operational, staffing and community challenges when expanding.

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P.S. Don’t miss to sign up for our newsletter (subscribe button at the bottom of this page), so you can stay up to date with such coworking insights!

officernd-roadmap-2019

OfficeRnD Roadmap 2019

4 min read

2018 was an incredible year for OfficeRnD. We grew 4x in pretty much every business KPI but what really excites us is how much ‘product’ we delivered in 2018.

Of course, we have bigger plans for 2019. Our team is heading north of 40 people in total (20 strong of them working on the product!) which will result in a lot of great improvements and new functionalities.

After lots of conversations, brainstorming sessions and customer discussions, we created the first version of our Roadmap for 2019.

We will be focusing on 4 main pillars:

  • Being the easiest to use, yet most advanced coworking management platform;
  • Providing the best possible member experience;
  • Expanding our serviced office management feature set;
  • Being the easiest to extend and onboard platform.

Being the easiest to use, yet most advanced coworking management platform motion is focused on maintaining and improving all the current functionalities, including multi-location support, customizations, performance and more alongside with developing new features, new reports, and integrations.

Bringing our member-facing tools (Member Portal, Mobile App, OfficeRnD Rooms, etc.) to a new higher level will be the focus in Q3 & Q4 of 2019. Complete redesign of the Members portal, new functionalities in the Mobile App and OfficeRnD Rooms will help you bring your community further than ever before.

Expanding our serviced office management feature set objective is related to expanding on our Contracts story, adding more billing capabilities, such as charge sheets, improving our provisional bookings story and adding more reports and dashboards.

And last but not least our efforts of making OfficeRnD the easiest to onboard and extend platform will cover data importing improvements, extending our API, adding better app-to-app authentication, and new hosted door access integration capabilities.

And because we know you will be excited to know when you can expect all of these goodies here is a visual timeline* which will help with that.

*We are doing our best to execute on our planned timeline but we live in an agile and flexible world and sometimes our plans change along the way.

OfficeRnD Roadmap 2019

You can connect with me at martin@officernd.com if you want to discuss our roadmap. I’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas.

Following is the list with more details:

Management Tools

We’ll continue to innovate and create better management capabilities, more automation, and better integrated and connected flexible workspace.

Management Platform

  • Contracts – break clauses and auto-renewals;
  • Bookings – improved provisional (tentative) booking flow;
  • Billing – advanced scheduled bill-runs, deposit return flow, member statements and more;
  • Issues – define custom types, reporting, and better UI/UX;
  • Analytics – more reports and customizable dashboards;
  • Experience – performance improvements, global search and new admin notification system;

Possible Third-party Integrations

  • WiFi – Cisco Meraki;
  • Sales CRM – MS Dynamics;
  • Payment Gateways – Moneris and more;
  • Events – Eventbrite and Facebook;
  • Printing – PaperCut;
  • Guests/Visitors – Greetly, Envoy;
  • Contract e-sign – HelloSign, and/or DocuSign;

Please, note that these are direct integrations we’re planning to work on over the next months but we can’t commit that they will all fit into 2019.

Member Tools

We are more committed than ever to providing the best and most complete digital user experience for your members. That’s why a big part of our Roadmap for 2019 is geared toward your Members.

Members Web Portal

  • New User Interface and Improved Experience.
  • Social Login – allow your members to login or signup with their connected social profiles, such as Google, Twitter, etc.
  • Member Self Service 2.0 – an iterative improvement on how members’ interact with the platform;
  • Forum style Community Boards – allow creating custom boards, such as Job postings, Tasks, etc based on categorized posts;

Mobile App

  • Bookings 2.0 – improved scheduler capabilities, new UI and improved experience;
  • Push Notifications & real-time collaboration for new posts, messages, events and what’s new;
  • Non-member screens – allow non-members to learn more about the space, book resources or signup;
  • Connected Door-Access – allow your members to access the space via one of our door-access integrations;
  • Localization Options – allow changing the language and localization options of the app;
  • Issues – ability to submit an issue from the app;

Add-ons & Extensions

In 2019, we’ll be aiming to connect more and more points of your shared workspace.

Meeting Room Tablet App

  • Direct bookings – allow members to book directly from the tablet;

Of course, a huge part of our planned work for 2019 is to continue improving all the existing functionality, integrations and better support you and your growing businesses.

Even more, we’re already working on big User Interface & Improved Experience face-lift that will span through all our products, from the Management platform to the Mobile app, Member portal, and all Extensions. It is going to be Great!

These are a lot of items, right? Sure, they are. But our growing team and drive to completely connect your flexible workspace motivate us even more to continue our amazing product journey.

Greenhouse Coworking Space: How to Scale Successfully with a Purpose in Mind

9 min read

Interview with Viktor Kyosev, 
General Manager at Greenhouse Indonesia

For only one year following its opening, Greenhouse managed to win Rice Bowl Awards’ recognition for ‘Best Coworking Space in Indonesia for 2018’’.

Not only is Greenhouse an excellent example of a successful coworking space, but is a client of ours, and we’re absolutely proud of that!

We sat down to interview Viktor Kyosev, General Manager at Greenhouse Indonesia, on the good practices adopted by the space in terms of business, operations, hospitality. Moreover, Greenhouse is currently growing with new locations, so we had the chance to chat about the expansion process and the main challenges that come along with it.

Viktor’s role in the space is to look after Indonesia as a market and to make sure the company is profitable and has enough and proper revenue streams. His role requires a deep understanding of the industry, and the operational processes in the company. Moreover, he’s also responsible for building and maintaining the team at Greenhouse.

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A coworking explosion in Southeast Asia

When Greenhouse started in 2018, there weren’t many flexible spaces in Jakarta and in just a period of one year the city observed an explosion of coworking spaces, Viktor says.

Several local brands managed to get fundraising and WeWork also entered the market. Both supply and demand are growing rapidly.

However, the market in Jakarta is very price-sensitive especially in comparison to Singapore, or European or American markets, which makes it challenging to operate. In this region, the price is a leading factor when choosing a coworking space.

“It was not easy to get where we are. But the more time we spent operating, the more we understood how to price ourselves, what kind of other revenue streams we could have, and eventually, it worked out pretty well for us.

Over time, of course, as we develop more partnerships, do more events, understand our community and attract better organizations, our value proposition increases as well.”

With care for the community and the environment

The two main pillars of Greenhouse’s philosophy are the market entry element and the sustainability focus.

The idea of Greenhouse emerged naturally. Each of the leadership team – Viktor and the three co-founders Vicknesh Pillay, Drew Calin, and Manish Nathani – has been running a startup or a business in emerging markets around the world and they all knew how hard it is to operate in such business environment.

It’s even more challenging in Southeast Asia, where the legislation is constantly changing, which leads to common disinformation on the topic. Many starting companies, especially foreign ones, struggle with making sure they meet the legislative requirements and it might take them thousands of dollars and up to 12 months to ensure it, Viktor shares.

“At the same time, there’s so much potential in this market. Indonesia is the region with the highest number of unicorn startups, each of which with a valuation of more than a billion dollars. Yet, it’s very difficult to start a business here.”

Drew, Vicknesh, and Manish wanted to solve this problem by helping young companies establish and develop their business. That’s how Greenhouse was born.

“We wanted to build a place that makes it easy for foreign companies to enter the market and operate.”

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The space’s focus is mainly on foreign companies and professionals. The coworking company helps its members develop their business by a lot of entry market services, building connections within the community and between members and investors, by hosting relevant professional events.

In addition, Greenhouse is a very purpose-driven organization, actively engaged with sustainability and providing a healthy and productive working environment for its members.

“We do a lot of research on how to increase the productivity of our members”, Viktor says.

The whole space is designed to minimize electricity consumption and bring in abundant natural light. Not only is the external set of the space from glass but also the offices inside.  

Greenhouse has more than 100 plants in-house and each plant has been chosen for its specific benefits – some help you fight stress, others anxiety, and others release a lot of oxygen in the air.

“The food in our pantries is vegetarian, locally sourced and healthy. In that way, we also support local businesses and educate our community to have a more healthy lifestyle.

Another thing we do is that we segregate and recycle about 100% of our waste, which is not an easy thing to do in Jakarta.”

The company also works in close partnership with numerous global sustainability non-profit organizations, supports social entrepreneurs and green startups, and hosts plenty of events on the topic.

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Supporting the coworking community

To support its community the team at Greenhouse runs a lot of initiatives.

“We have a program called ‘Greenhouse member benefits’. Each of our partners is giving something for free to our members.

For example, we have an Accounting partner who gives an entire month of free services. We also have companies like Amazon Web Services and IBM participating in the program.

The total value of the program is $70,000 SGD, which we invest in products and services that you receive access to at the moment you become a member of Greenhouse.”

The space also runs a lot of events, which most venture capital companies, as well as accelerators and incubators, attend.

Such events give members the opportunity to get in touch with potential investors, advisors, and any other professionals that might help them scale their business.

Often, Viktor and his team, make personal introductions between companies – a tested and verified approach that increases the chances of starting companies to get funded.

Running a business with an attitude for expansion

As of today, Greenhouse has one location in Jakarta, and is currently working on opening a second one in the city, one in the Philippines, and is considering to open in Singapore and Vietnam in the near future.

When asked about the biggest challenge of the expansion, Viktor shares it’s not a single one.

“We set the standards high with our first location so we have to keep that.”

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In terms of location, the team at Greenhouse is looking for landlords who understand the vision of the space and want to support the team on their mission.

Working with like-minded people is essential, especially when you are very purpose-driven and want to be consistent in the look and feel of your locations, Viktor shares.

In terms of processes, the space has nailed it how to make it smooth to expand. From day one they all knew that they were going to have more than one location in multiple countries, and they designed and implemented all processes with that in mind.

Everything we do, we build it so it’s scalable, transparent, and easy to replicate. Every software that we choose, every process we decide on, any position we decide to hire for, everything is being done so that it makes sense across locations.”

Hiring for a new coworking location

The most important role to hire first for a new coworking space is Sales, according to Viktor.

“We started selling Greenhouse long before Greenhouse was launched. So at the moment, we launched we had Greenhouse at 40% occupancy because we were selling when there was just a construction site, there was no electricity, and it was all under construction…

And I think that’s how we’ve built a sustainable business. Because if we don’t run a sustainable business, we cannot run all the positive things that we do want to run.”

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The second important role is the Community Manager, which is difficult to find a good fit for.

“Community people are hard to find because the role requires a diverse skill set – people who are very energetic, positive and friendly, and in the meantime very sharp and intelligent. Also, they should be able to do sales if the sales team is not there, and keep track of what’s going on in the space and solve problems.”

The role of hospitality in coworking

Viktor has spent half of his grown-up life studying and working within the hospitality business and half within startups.

His say on hospitality is that it’s absolutely important, but yet it’s very different from the hotel industry.

“A lot of people don’t understand but the difference between coworking and a hotel is that in a hotel you meet someone for one week, two weeks, and he’s gone. It’s a very shallow relationship that you have. It’s very easy to be positive most of the time. People just come and they have the mindset of “I’m on holiday”, they enjoy the time and they leave.

Versus, in a coworking space people stay for longer, hopefully for at least one year.

You really get to know these people, you really get to create a relationship.

Especially here in Asia, relationships are incredibly important. People would often choose to do business with someone they know versus something that’s a better product.”

Making internal training for the team in terms of how to effectively communicate with customers, how to solve their problems, how to prioritize these problems, is just one of Greenhouse’s initiatives fostering the top-notch customer experience.

Solving problems extremely fast and efficiently is truly essential for the team at Greenhouse.

“We’re really obsessed with that. We measure every single thing from the moment that the complaint comes to the moment it’s passed to the facility team. We try to optimize that time until it becomes as efficient as humanly possible.

Problems are always gonna be there. But it’s important how you approach the clients, how you actually solve the problem, and what you do in the meantime to make them happy.”

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Another good practice is the member first policy – one of Greenhouse’s core values. A given example is that when a member of the space and an external client want to host an event at the same time, the member always comes first.

Viktor shares that this applies even in cases when external clients are companies like Google, Apple or LinkedIn, that often host events at Greenhouse.

For Greenhouse, having communication with your community is absolutely essential. The team often sits outside in the open area so everyone can approach them. It might be distracting, but it’s what allows them to create meaningful connections and be helpful and of value to their coworking community.

Small gestures would add on top of all that.

“We have a calendar where we keep track on every member’s birthday and we make surprises for them on their special day. When a new member enters the space, they receive a handwritten welcoming note by our community. For the 14th of February, we’re giving chocolate and flowers to the ladies.

We consistently try to delight our members and make them happy.”

Scaling successfully and with purpose

Scaling a coworking business requires a lot of efforts. It’s a mixture of much industry, business, and operational knowledge, along with being committed to your values and your customers.

But one thing is certain – having the right attitude and being truly dedicated to what you do, is a prerequisite for success!

We see it proved by Greenhouse, a great example of a coworking space that adds true value to its coworking community on top of its excellent service.

 


Did you enjoy reading through this post?

✅ 👉 You might also like our blog post Providing Top-notch Coworking Member Experience: 3 Ways Technology Helps, where you can learn how to use tools like social media, online chats, and coworking management software to empower communication in your coworking space and keep your members delighted.

📧

P.S. Don’t miss to sign up for our newsletter (subscribe button at the bottom of this page), so you can stay up to date with such coworking insights!

Providing Top-notch Coworking Member Experience: 3 Ways Technology Helps

5 min read

After we outlined why hospitality matters for improving coworking member experience, it’s worth exploring how technology can support your efforts.

In a previous blog post, we highlighted 3 hospitality practices you shouldn’t miss to adopt in your coworking space if you want to delight your coworking members and visitors:

  • Having a welcoming attitude
  • Being easily approachable
  • Listening and being responsive

And while having a welcoming attitude is pretty much based on your communication skills, being easily approachable, quick to respond and listening proactively requires handling a ton of information on top of your kindness and attention towards your members.

On a daily basis, you basically have to collect, access and spread information in order to provide a delightful member experience.

In this blog post, we’ll cover how technology helps with each of these aspects.

Keep on reading to see how.

Collecting information from numerous sources

The more you know about your members and how they feel at your coworking space, the better service you can provide them with.

There’s no doubt that having real, face-to-face communication is the best case scenario.

But the reality is, regardless of how much efforts you put in, you cannot be everywhere and talk to everyone. And moreover, not everybody will be willing to talk directly to you.

Here are two aspects technology can help with:

 

  • Sourcing past discussions for relevant insights

Technology gives you precious access to discussions between members and allows you to catch up with these (or at least a huge part of them) which you’re not able to attend in real time.

Most chat platforms keep a history where you can find plenty of ideas on what your community is engaged with, how you can provide a better service and be helpful to them.

Moreover, reviewing chat discussions might be essential for predicting and even preventing problems from happening.

Here are a few examples:

You notice that members discuss the awesome IT event in town last week. Why not invite the speaker for a talk in your coworking space?

You see members often complain it’s hard to find a free phone booth. Think about expanding the meeting/call amenities.

 

  • Easily collecting feedback

You must embrace feedback if you want to be successful. Period.

Sometimes members will share their thoughts about your coworking space without being asked, which is great. However, relying solely on them being proactive is not enough.

Taking the initiative and asking them about their opinion is a genuine sign that you care about them, and results in improving the way your members feel about your service.

Online tools can help you be more productive in collecting and sorting all types of information – whether you want to know what music your members prefer to be played in the hallways, or if the idea of starting a series of marketing events thrills them.

Some useful options to collect feedback or conduct polls are GoogleForms, SurveyMonkey, Typeform, polls on Slack.

Accessing information fast and easy

One way to create a feeling of delight within your members is by responding to their requests fast and accurately.

People need answers and they need them as soon as possible.

Imagine the situation when a member comes to you and ask you when their membership plan ends and how many credits for meeting rooms they have left.

If you have a small community, you’ll probably recall most of these details with ease without even touching your computer. You answer their questions in less than a minute, you chat a little bit, wish them a good day and everyone’s happy.

How do you cope with that situation when you have 100+ members? How do you make sure you’ll respond quickly and provide them with all the information they’re looking for?

Relying on technology becomes crucial.

Storing the information in Excel sheets is one option. Have in mind that the more members you have, the harder it will become to find and link information between the different sheets.

Once your member base scales above a certain level, you might also think about introducing a community management platform that is tailored to the needs of your growing coworking space.

Having easy and fast access to information like memberships, contracts, invoices, credits, or any other membership management related data, will allow you to effortlessly respond to member requests.

If you’re curious about how OfficeRnD can help you with that, check out our coworking management software page.

Keeping your members informed

Does the following sound familiar:

You schedule an event and you start wondering where to post it to make sure as many coworking members as possible can learn about it. Should you include it in your weekly newsletter? Or post it on the #events channel on Slack? Or share it through your coworking software management platform?

Eventually, you share the information on all these channels, but it turns out that many people who would have been interested in the event missed the invitation because they were too busy to check Slack, or haven’t even signed up for your newsletter.

The truth is that you’ll have the capacity to manage just a couple of channels (aiming for all is too much overkill), and the answer to which ones depends on your members!

Ask them for an opinion. Create a poll. Talk to them. They will often be glad to give you valuable insights on which channels they prefer and use regularly.


📍Bonus tip:

To make the most out of the online channels your coworking community prefers, it’s helpful to know their specifications.

We’ve covered that in a separate blog post where you can learn how to use online tools like social media and chats to improve member visibility, encourage community interactions and keep your members informed.

Conclusion

When talking about improving member experience on scale, it’s important to know that on top of having a kind welcoming attitude, you need to be capable of easily collecting, accessing and spreading information so you can keep up with your growing number of members, and technology can help you achieve that.

It will allow you to be helpful to your community, respond to their requests fast and accurately, and keep them informed about what they care about.


P.S. Did you enjoy reading through this post? ✅ 👉Don’t miss to sign up for our newsletter (subscribe button at the bottom of this page), so you can stay up to date with such coworking tips and insights!

coworking member experience hospitality

Improving Member Experience in Your Coworking Space: Why Hospitality Matters

7 min read

Interview with Miryana Stancheva,
Community, Sales & Partnerships Manager at Ahoy Berlin

Remember the last time you felt delighted as a customer of a coworking space?

Probably it won’t take you long to recall the experience and tell exactly what made you feel happy.

And certainly, it wasn’t only about the great office space and amenities but also about the fact that you were treated amazingly well.

And would that be a reason to visit the space again? Most probably – yes!

As any business related to people, coworking and flexible spaces, embrace hospitality as an important building block for success. And even though hospitality is most often associated with the hotel industry, it has a lot to do with coworking as well.

Ahoy Berlin, a client of ours, has nailed the top-notch customer experience by adopting hospitality practices that add on top of their excellent workspace service.

We sat down to interview Miryana Stancheva, Community, Sales & Partnerships Manager at Ahoy Berlin, on the importance of hospitality. This role places her at the heart of the most essential processes in the company.

 


 

Ahoy Berlin

 

Ahoy Berlin is a space for coworking and innovation, where individuals and companies can rent fully equipped work stations, quiet offices and organize events under flexible terms in a playful and cozy environment. The company’s mission is to help budding startups and freelancers grow by connecting them to a wider community of possible collaborators and investors via its sister companies Openers and Tech Open Air.

The space was founded in 2012 by Nikita Roshkow and Nikolas Woischnik and currently has two locations: Berlin, Germany and Sao Paulo, Brazil. In June 2018, Ahoy was acquired by US agile office provider Knotel as part of its plan to launch further locations across Germany.

Hey, Miryana! Before we get into the hospitality topic, tell us a bit about yourself!

 

I became part of the coworking world in 2013 when I was about to start my PhD studies in Organisational Psychology and I was searching for an inspiring, unexplored topic that is really worth researching.

I accidentally came across betahaus|Sofia, which was the first and, at that time, the only coworking space in Bulgaria.

It was a sudden realization for me that coworking spaces have a very specific structure, organization, processes, and culture. I knew this is something unique which no one in Bulgaria had ever researched.

I eventually ended up with defending a PhD thesis on ‘Shared (co)working spaces and interaction models within the enterprise’ in 2017.

This is how my deep dive into the coworking world began. Over the years I had the chance to visit around 100 coworking spaces across Europe, to meet amazing inspiring people, to work in great spaces and since 2017 I’m part of the Ahoy Berlin Team.

What’s your role in the space and what are the skills needed to make it successful?

I’m responsible for the community, sales and partnerships processes at Ahoy Berlin.

Being a successful Community Manager requires a diverse mix of social skills, deep understanding of the group dynamics, ability to observe and analyze the community processes, and creativity to tackle every situation with a hands-on attitude.

On the other hand, it requires organizational skills and event management knowledge – at Ahoy Berlin we organize regularly different community events (networking and professionally oriented), we host numerous meetups and support our members in organizing their own events.

The other face of my role shows in Sales & Partnerships – I’m responsible for keeping the space fully booked – close sales deals, onboard new members, make sure they feel comfortable in their new “home”. I also do invoicing, track payments, etc.

Together with that, I’m also in charge of building a wide network of partners with diverse backgrounds who can offer interesting products and services to our community and coworking business.

What do you like most about coworking and about your job?

What I like most about coworking is the opportunity to belong to a diverse community; to be surrounded by like-minded, motivated, hardworking people in a healthy inspiring working environment which helps you to increase your productivity and effectiveness and gives you the freedom to be yourself and explore different creative ways to approach your daily tasks.

I really cherish the openness of the people, who have chosen to work in coworking spaces – they are always ready to share knowledge and experience, to give you free advice, feedback and help.

And what I like about my job is that I’m lucky to work with an amazing team with strong, transparent and supportive culture, and to have a complex and dynamic role, which combines and balances two, on a first glance, opposing concepts – the social and the financial wellbeing of the space.

What do you think is the role of hospitality in coworking?

Hospitality plays a huge role in the coworking movement and it’s not only about renting out desks – in coworking the concept of hospitality is not a compulsory service which community managers should deliver to the members, but a personal attitude and a personal relationship which evolves over time.

This is one of the reasons why all independent coworking spaces are so different from one another, and why the role of the Community Manager is an important one – he/she is the person who transforms this concept of hospitality into a unique community culture and is responsible to preserve, develop and enrich it constantly.

Only when you have this personal approach, you’ll be able to call your space a coworking space and not a shared office space.

Moreover, I do believe that exactly this culture, based on hospitality and personal approach, is the reason why a coworking space would attract and retain a specific type of members.

Also, this is how a space develops its own distinctive identity.

What are the good practices at Ahoy Berlin for improving member experience?

We like to make small gestures for our members and want to make sure they have a great experience being part of our community.

We bring them gifts on various occasions, make announcements on Slack for their success, organize regular community events. We support members and their business development by connecting them with other members and external partners.

But what I think is vital in order for your members to feel good, is to know well your community, to be able to identify their profile and based on that, to tailor the initiatives in your space and not just to organise events which might sound “cool” but are absolutely not relevant to them.

Some of the events we regularly organize and work very well for our community are breakfasts and lunches, meetups, skills exchange, ping-pong tournaments, karaokes, gatherings outside the space over a drink, etc.

It’s a very interesting and dynamic process of trying new things and constantly adapting to the community which is also changing very fast.

What’s important when meeting a new member? Do you have any special “rituals”?

We have a well-structured system when welcoming our new members. First of all, we make sure that we already know each other, that we have exchanged enough information before the on-boarding day, so we know what they do and what they are looking for, that they are informed what to expect and what the community is like.

When the day to move in comes, we give them a welcome package with some goodies, sometimes we grab a coffee together, we spend as much time as needed with them to explain everything important and to introduce them to the community.

Moreover, we always send a welcome email which contains the most important information about the space, the services, and the facilities, but also, information about the team who runs Ahoy Berlin.

And here is the crucial part in the community building process – you have to keep taking care of your members and talk to them after the on-boarding 🙂

How do you proceed when members have feedback or suggest ideas about the space?

We always encourage our members to give us regular feedback, to openly share suggestions and ideas with us and to contribute to the community’s well-being with activities and initiatives they want to organize.

We’re actually planning to conduct a satisfaction survey soon and give the freedom to every member out of these 400 people in our space, to share their opinion and suggestions – because only when you listen to your members you’ll be able to grow and do better in the future.

What advice would you give to fellow coworking operators and community managers who want to provide a top-notch customer experience?

In my opinion, coworking is as much about the service you provide, as it is about the way you approach your members. Listen to them, be open and accept their feedback. Act on it and improve.

 


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2018 Year in Review

4 min read

With 2018 almost coming to a close, we’d love to highlight some trends from the year and share all the amazing things that happened in the world of coworking & technology.

2018 was the best year for the global coworking and flexible workspace community. The term ‘coworking’ even made it to the official dictionaries! The coworking movement is real and is bigger than ever. More and more freelancers, startups, small and medium-size companies, and enterprise teams are joining the Office-as-a-Service movement. The demand for coworking is growing exponentially, and so is the supply. The competition is growing too which only makes the services and offerings better for all of us. From large scale coworking to small ones, from niche operators to major landlords, there’s a good space for everyone.

2018 was the best year for OfficeRnD too. We released  87+ major new versions (yep, that’s a new release every 4 days!) of the platform. We expanded our global footprint by adding more than 200 new customers. We are now serving more than 50 000 awesome members in 40+ countries. As a result, our team grew from 11 to 27 across London, Sofia, and New Zealand.

Team

In order to provide a great software solution, you have to start with a great team. And we’re proud of how great our team is as we approach the end of the year! We care about each other and we care about the industry. The OfficeRnD team is willing to sacrifice long hours of hard work in order to provide world-class service and great software. Something that is key and is the ethos of the Coworking hospitality.

In 2018, 14 amazing people joined our team to support our growing coworking community. Thank you, Stoyan, Ivan, Deyan, Beni, Vini, Peter, Isi, Vlad, Mihaela, Yuki, Blago, Monika, Martin, and Rado. You are the best!

In 2018, we also visited 10s of coworking spaces on 4 continents, supported 4 coworking conferences and met in person with hundreds of coworking managers.

Product

Having great team and vision plus an amazing industry were the key factors in driving OfficeRnD to become one of the best coworking management solutions on the market.

  • We released 87 new versions and updates to the platform;
  • We resolved more than 900 stories – new features, bug fixes, and improvements. That’s about 6000 code commits. There is not a single day without a ‘commit’ to make the platform better, faster and more feature rich.

But although we accomplished a lot, our best intentions to build the perfect solution for coworking spaces in a year and stretch ourselves to the maximum still couldn’t catch up with our ambition. Still, we built a bit more than half of everything we wanted to build, and we’re even more determined and ambitious about our plans next year.

Following is the updated roadmap – in dark green are items that we managed to nail, in lighter green are bits that we made progress on but still need more love:

Here’s a quick summary:

  • Coworking Management Platform – the biggest part of the effort we put was toward solidifying the backend and adding more capabilities to it:
    • Tentative Bookings, Cancelation policies and many other advanced booking policies were added
    • Monetary-value credits
    • Advanced Contract management – types, templates, and other advanced improvements
    • Admin Permission Customizations
    • Multilocation management – advanced billing setup, multi-currency
    • Processing Fees and Discounts
    • IronWifi integration
    • Several new Reports and Dashboards
    • Many UI/UX improvements across the board
  • Member Portal:
    • Localization
    • Improved Member self-service
    • First bits of user analytics
    • Many booking improvements
  • Meeting Room tablet displays
    • We made it a Native app
    • We made it more beautiful
    • Check-in feature and auto-cancelation (be on the lookout for those in our next release in early Jan)

We’re looking forward to 2019 more excited than ever. There’s so much more to do. We will revamp the members portal, the mobile app and of course, we’ll add many new features to the backend management.

With your help, we will make coworking a more social, more mobile, more user-friendly experience for the members, more automated and integrated for the managers and more data-driven for the stakeholders. Stay tuned for our official 2019 Roadmap!

Happy Holidays to all our friends in the flexible workspace community! May 2019 be our best year yet!

second coworking location

Opening a Second Coworking Location: What to Consider and How to Deal with the Main Challenges

9 min read

There’s something even more thrilling than running your first coworking space and this is the moment when you start thinking about opening your second location.

But besides the excitement, there are also lots of concerns when you come to this stage of your business. Are you ready to expand? Does it make sense? How will you split your efforts between the two locations and still keep up with both?

And most of all – is it worth it?

Why open a second location?

If you’re still wondering whether or not this is a good step, here are a few reasons on why it might make sense:

Demand is rising. More and more professionals and companies are switching from traditional offices to coworking spaces. To meet the rising demand, you’ll need to provide more space once your first location reaches its full (or almost full) capacity.

Competition is rising. The tremendous interest in coworking leads to a huge rise in the number of coworking spaces slowly but surely making coworking the new normal, hence more and more competitors will rise up and fight for the attention of your members. Expanding your capacity and building on top of your product will help you to stay competitive.

Your members scale and their needs change. Depending on how you’ve structured your product, your current space might be focused mainly on flex and dedicated desks, with a limited number of offices (or none whatsoever). If desks are suitable for most starting companies, when they grow they’ll start looking for a separate office. If you can’t offer them what they need, they’ll have to leave you.

Before you make the decision to expand

Opening a second location is not a piece of cake. It needs a lot of effort, time and resources. It’s good to be sure you’re ready and really willing to expand.

Answering the following question can help you figure out if you’re ready to scale:

How is your current coworking space performing?

Analyzing your current situation is key. Is your space full? Are your resources being used at their maximum (or close to maximum) capacity – e.g. desks, offices, meeting rooms? Are your revenue streams stable (e.g. having longer-term memberships)?

If the answer is yes, think about the successful practices that led to this success and if (and how) you can replicate them. Investigate the ones that need improvement or totally failed and try to find the reasons on why they didn’t perform well.

The ability to understand why certain things in your current space were successful and others were not is key to expanding.

second coworking location

Can your current coworking space operate without you?

Once you expand you’ll no longer be able to be “on-site” and as available as before if any issues arise. On top of that, your second location will require your time and attention much more than your first, especially in the beginning. It’ll be a full-time job added to your current duties.

Ask yourself:

  • Is there something in your current coworking space which constantly requires your presence? Can you somehow change that?
  • Are you willing and is it possible to delegate tasks? Here’s a good guide on how you can delegate task successfully.
  • Do you have a clear plan on who will handle the new tasks? Do you have the right people in your team? If not, can you hire them? We’ve listed some hiring tips below.

*You’re not limited to these questions alone, but answering them will give you a better understanding of your ability to expand at the current moment.

Do you want to focus on providing the same coworking space as a product?

If your current space is focused mainly on desks and open spaces, do you want to replicate that in your second location? Or do you want to change your model and target a different kind of audience? Do you want it to be in the same town or not?

Here are 3 success stories of coworking spaces opening their second location providing food for thought in terms of location and business model.

Besides exploring real-life examples, examine the market, do research on what the other spaces close to your next location provide and try to find information on what the coworking audience needs. Is there a demand for a coworking space with more offices? Or your town is a crossing point of coworking nomads who prefer quick access to a hot desk and meeting rooms?

This will give you valuable insights on what location you should search for, how to fit it out, how to plan and distribute the space between open space and offices, how to plan meeting rooms, what services to provide, etc.


📍Extra note: How do you assure your first location’s members won’t abandon it because of your second one?

That’s something you cannot fully control. The main factor for members in choosing a coworking space is the location and the amenities. So if your new coworking space fits your members’ needs better and reduces their commute time, they’ll most probably move. There’s not much you can do about this.

What you can do here to ensure your first space stays intact is to gradually improve and renovate where possible – from the fit-out to the amenities, the service management, etc.

second coworking location

Let’s consider you’ve already found the location, signed the lease, finished with the fit-out and you’re ready for the next step.

Here are some important aspects to consider, that should help you expand in the most efficient way possible.

Multilocation operations management

One of the main challenges is to replicate all the things you’re doing – the processes, the routines, etc.

Up until now, you’ve probably had all this in your head. Now you have to structure it somehow and make it accessible to the rest of your team. Sad but true – you can’t be in both locations at the same time so you’ll need someone to help you.

Getting all the operational procedures down on paper is a good first step. This will allow other people to take ownership of some of the countless responsibilities you have.

You’ll have your 2 locations operating separately, but having the same procedures and rules in both will allow you to operate more efficiently.


📍Bonus tip: Once you start writing down all the procedures, there’ll be a lot of information to be structured. It’ll be essential to stay organized and keep everything in order. Here’s a useful app: Notion, recommended by SharedSpace, a client of ours, who used it to manage tasks when they were opening up their second location.


Once you have all your processes written down, it’s important to have the right people to relay them to. Let’s look at the important things to consider when staffing your second location:

Staffing your second coworking location

Your team is incredibly important as it’s the core of a coworking space. It’s what enables you to offer the services you offer, to meet your members, to issue their invoices, to manage cash flows…in other words: to operate.

Your team is the voice of your coworking space, brand, and its reputation.

Here’s an inside look of HR best practices for hiring for coworking spaces.

staffing second coworking location

Hiring an Operations/General Manager (or giving this role to someone of your existing team) would be your best first step. You’ll need someone to help you with all day-to-day tasks, answer calls, meet suppliers 

and help you with managing subcontractors, visitors, etc.

Eventually, when you already have your first members, you might think of expanding your team with a Community Manager.

If you’re wondering if you should hire new people or relocate part of your team to the new location, there’s no rule of thumb. Still, consider the following 3 most used practices and evaluate which one will fit your situation:

1/ You relocate team members from your first location to your second

The main benefit here is that you’ll have someone who’s already familiar with your processes and will manage to deal with tasks quite easy and fast. Also, it will be someone trusted and experienced, knowing your space, operations, and community.

In addition, you can provide some of your employees from the first location with the opportunity to grow professionally by taking ownership of additional responsibilities.

second coworking location

2/ You hire new staff for your second location

This will bring people with new ideas and will give a fresh start of your second location. Of course, they’ll need time to get familiar with the processes in your coworking space, to adapt and learn, but if you and the rest of your team spend enough time and dedication in training them, things will fall in place eventually.

Of course, it’s good to find people who have experience in the coworking industry, but it’s not mandatory. Someone who simply has the passion for coworking and is highly motivated and eager to learn can be a great fit for your team!

Also, it’s good to consider not only the professional expertise of the people you hire but if they are a good cultural fit for your coworking space as well. Do they resonate with the company vision and mission? Do you share the same values?

Hiring people who correspond to your mindset will build a strong and well-performing team.

3/ You hire new staff and rotate your team members between the two locations

This well-established among coworking spaces practice applies mainly for operations/community staff.

New and old employees rotate on a regular basis between spaces, so they can learn from one another and be familiar with the processes, the members, and the challenges of both locations.

Rotation can be done on a weekly or even a daily basis – it depends on you.

Scaling your community when expanding

You know how to reinforce the consistency of your brand in both locations with the design, the concept, the customer service of your space – you replicate them and implement the same procedures and practices.

But when it comes to community, how do you replicate that?

The truth is community emerges naturally. It can be neither replicated or forced, but you can try and imbue each “new community” with your vision and the same values that are driving you as a business.

second coworking location

For example, if one of your core differentiators is to be helpful with the service you offer and encourage your community members to grow, support that in your second location as well.

Probably you’ll end up with 2 separate communities which will be slightly different, but what’s important here is that they’ll share the same values. And that’s what gives the consistency of your brand.

Of course, it’s good to follow some essential best practices when fostering your community but have in mind a lot of it comes from you as a founder and your team. If everybody is on the same page about your vision and values, things should start developing on their own.

In the beginning, with a single coworking space, it’s quite easy to maintain this – your team spends almost all their time together – you communicate constantly with each other, you share tasks and activities, you gather for a beer after work, and everyone is involved in almost everything.

To keep that when expanding, hire the people who resonate with your values. Try to encourage the connection between team members. Think about how to have them involved in the processes that run in both spaces. Meet regularly – for sharing company updates and discussing important stuff, but for informal team gatherings as well.

Conclusion

Opening a second coworking location is a huge step. It’s a full-time job requiring a lot of dedication. During this journey, you’ll need focus on evaluating your first location’s performance, defining procedures, hiring the right people and ensuring your community stays authentic.

As long as you and your team have the right focus and well-established processes, and you share and spread the same values, things will start developing smoothly and allow you to grow successfully.

P.S.If you’ve enjoyed reading through this post content, don’t miss to sign up for our newsletter (subscribe button at the bottom of this page), so you can stay up to date with our coworking tips and insights! 

OfficeRnD Implementation Partner Opstech Services won BCA Partner of the Year

2 min read

The BCA is a not-for-profit trade association representing the needs of operators, partners, and customers of business centres, coworking spaces, serviced offices and virtual offices. The BCA promotes the sector to Government, local authorities and the wider business community.

Every year The BCA Annual Awards Gala Dinner is held in London where awards are presented to individuals, operators, and partners. This year’s ceremony was an amazing experience and we’re happy we had the chance to attend. What’s more – we’re so proud of our implementation partner Opstech Services, who was among the winners!


London, Friday, November 30th, 2018: Opstech Services, the London-based OfficeRnD implementation partner, won the BCA Partner of the Year award, a major recognition for the exceptional work of Inga Taylor and her team.

 

Opstech Services provide strategic advice and support to business owners and operators within the Flexible Workspace sector.

Over the past 2 years, they’ve worked with new entrants to the market as they open new workspaces on all elements from space planning and fit out to the systems that manage clients and billing.

They’ve also implemented change projects with operators who needed a technology refresh and provided training in a number of areas including Operational Process and Compliance.

 

Over the last 2 years, the Opstech team implemented successfully the OfficeRnD platform in multiple flexible workspace operators with 10s of locations. The team provided enormous support, built many integrations and worked hard toward providing a complete, well-round, easy to use software package for the Flexible Workspace industry.

The BCA Partner of the Year award is a well-deserved recognition for the excellent work of the entire Opstech team.

Big Congratulations and Thank you from the entire OfficeRnD Team!
We are delighted to be on this journey together!

For those of you that need a better flexible workspace management platform, implemented with exceptional attention to detail, and a team that will train your staff on site, please reach out to sales@officernd.com or info@opstechservices.com.

improve-meeting-rooms-usage

How to Track and Improve Meeting Rooms Usage in Coworking Spaces

6 min read

Meeting rooms are a handy amenity that can help you attract prospects to your space or increase your alternative revenue stream while offering a valuable resource to people from within your community.

You’ve succeeded in the challenge of planning your meeting rooms and have already chosen the right ones for your coworking space.

Now the question is: Are you making the most out of your meeting rooms? How do you measure their usage? Can you increase bookings somehow?

Finding answers to these questions will give you valuable insights on how well your meeting rooms are performing, so you can use this information to evaluate and improve their usage.

There’s a number of key metrics you can monitor to measure meeting rooms usage including how often they’re booked, for how long, which meeting rooms are used the most, average bookings per day, week or month, peak or quiet hours, etc.

The steps you can take to improve the areas which underperform depends on your business model – do members pay additionally for using meeting rooms or they are included in the plans you offer?

Improving usage of paid meeting rooms

Paid meeting rooms are usually popular in Serviced Offices (Executive Suites) and in some Coworking spaces. Two main factors lead to this:

  1. This happens in places where a lot of business meetings happen. Usually, members meet clients, partners, future investors and making the right impression is really important.
  2. Business meetings happen sporadically. Paying for a meeting room when the necessity comes fits your member’s needs (and wallets!) better than adding to their plans meeting rooms credits which, sometimes, they might not need.

Here’s what you can do to improve the usage of paid meeting rooms:

Attract external audiences

improve-meeting-room-usage

A successful approach to improve usage is to market your meeting rooms to the public. There are plenty of reasons why meeting rooms in coworking spaces are better than in hotels so there’s a natural interest towards them. 

One idea is to take advantage of marketplaces where you can list your meeting rooms. Of course, you would also like to optimize your website for search engines and fill it up with enough information and great photos to present your service properly.

Providing an option for online booking that shows live availability is another way you can attract more customers.

Read more about how to market meeting rooms: 6 Tips on How To Market Your Coworking Space Meeting Rooms.

Identify underutilized time slots and offer promotions

Time slots in the range of 2-5 pm are in most cases fully booked. It’s the time when most meetings happen – both internally and with external partners/clients.

Of course, every flex space is different, so you should find out what the trend is in your space. An analysis of usage will again require a dedicated solution, but it will be invaluable to have this data so you can know where to focus your efforts:

track-meeting-rooms-usage

Once you identify the periods which are underutilized in your coworking space, you can think about offering discounts during those times.

Also, think about allowing bookings during non-business hours and setting lower price rates for them. After all, one of the coolest things about coworking is its flexibility, so giving your community members the opportunity the use your meeting rooms whenever they need, is an excellent thing to do.

Bundle free credits in recurring memberships

If your members have a membership plan, but they have to pay additionally for meeting rooms, there’s a real chance they’ll sometimes avoid it and go to the near cafe or use the open area in case they have an informal meetup.

However, if you bundle free credits for meeting rooms in their membership plan, they’ll be more willing to book and use a meeting room, as they won’t need to pay additionally for it.

At the end of the day, they do pay for it, but it’s the psychological aspect that’s important here.

Think about (discounted) prepaid credit bundles

Offer bundles of credits and give them at a lower price if people prepay for them.

It’s a win-win situation – your members receive a discount, you get a commitment for another 5 hours, for example.

improve-meeting-rooms-usage-bundles

Add discounts based on booking length

A great thing to do is to lower the price rate for longer bookings. An example structure would be to provide members with discounts for half-day bookings, full-day bookings, etc.

Of course, such flexibility will add some additional complexity to your everyday operations. You can eliminate such complexity with the help of Meeting Room Management solutions such as OfficeRnD.

improve-meeting-rooms-usage-discounts

Improving the usage of free meeting rooms

Free meeting rooms for coworking members are widely popular in coworking spaces for various reasons.

It might be that your space is located in the suburbs of bigger and smaller cities and is not exposed to huge business traffic, so your members would usually have regular internal meetings (and making them paid will just be an inconvenience for them).

Or you might be focusing on memberships and increasing the amount of time a team or a member stays with you, and bundling in a free meeting room is a key differentiator.

But when members do not pay additionally for using a meeting room, there’s often a difference between what’s been booked and what’s been actually used.

How’s “booked” different from “used”?

improve-meeting-room-usageSometimes people book a meeting room but eventually don’t show up. Such ghost bookings can be very expensive for your coworking space. Another scenario you would like to avoid is rooms that aren’t used at their full capacity or are used for a shorter period than was actually booked.

Once you build a certain customer base, monitoring that on your own will be too much overhead, so you might think about turning to technology for help.

Make sure that the solution you pick has an easy to handle process both for you and your members – for example, allowing them to self-service themselves and control their bookings. Here are some ideas you could consider:

Member check-in to confirm a booking

This can be achieved with a tablet or a dashboard located at the entrance of a meeting room. If no one checks in 15 minutes, the app will automatically remove the booking from the system, so other members can use the room.

Notifications and reminders

Use some kind of push notifications/reminder to the mobile app, which pings members before the meeting. Sometimes people forget to remove a booking when their meeting has been canceled. Sending them a push notification right before the booking with an easy way to cancel it is a possible approach.

Take advantage of IoT

Installing beacons in your meeting rooms which track movement, for example, is a good way to track what’s the actual usage of your meeting rooms (not only if people come, but how long they actually stay there).

Again the same logic can apply here if you connect such beacons with your booking software – it can automatically delete a booking if no one shows up in 15 minutes.

Conclusion

Meeting rooms are one of the most important assets of your coworking space, regardless if you require people to pay for them or you offer them for free. But to make the most of them, effort should be invested in maximizing their usage.

It’s important to have the right data. This will give you valuable insights into how well your meeting rooms are currently performing, which will help you understand where to focus efforts to improve their usage, member satisfaction and eventually – your revenue.

marketing coworking space meeting rooms

6 Tips on How To Market Your Coworking Space Meeting Rooms

7 min read

Meeting rooms in your coworking space are not only a necessity but also the second largest revenue stream after rent!

After you’ve planned how much and what types to have in your space, it’s important to know that, if well marketed, meeting rooms can increase your coworking space’s income.

marketing coworking space meeting rooms income streams

Credits: Cushman & Wakefield’s Coworking 2018 report

To successfully market your coworking space’s meeting rooms it’s crucial to invest efforts in several areas – from digital marketing to presentation, to maintenance, to promotion…the list goes on.

In this blog post, we’ll cover 6 points that will help you attract more customers to your meeting rooms.

But first, there’s an important distinction we want to make: your promotional efforts should be different if you’re focusing on people which are part of your community, or people outside of it.

Marketing meeting rooms to your coworking members require fewer efforts as you’ve basically succeeded in the main challenge – you’ve brought these people to your space and they are already using them.

Tracking and improving the usage of meeting rooms in your coworking space is a good way to encourage bookings and improve members satisfaction. You can add meeting room credits to membership plans, or offer discounts on conference rooms to virtual members. Also, it’s important to remove any friction from the process of booking, accessing and utilizing.

Marketing to the public is a challenge and it requires plenty of efforts. Here are our top 6 tips:

1/ Take advantage of marketplaces

Marketplaces like DaVinci, Liquid Space, and Meetingrooms allow you to reach more people than by relying solely on your own channels.

These websites generate tons of traffic on a daily basis so they can connect you with lots of potential customers.

They have filters like location, capacity, amenities, etc, so people can get results that match their needs.

The presentation here’s important. Make sure you’ve included enough information so people can understand what you offer, and photos, so you can stand out among all others on the list.

2/ Optimize your website for search engines AND people!

marketing coworking website

The majority of people will initially reach you via your website.

So, how do you make sure it’s easily discoverable?

In its core, this consists of optimizing your website so it appears when people search for specific keywords and phrases (e.g. “meeting rooms”). Here are a few tips:

Follow the general SEO practices

Working on your page content, page speed, URLs, meta descriptions, etc is the foundation. Here’s a good article giving a brief explanation (and a nice video included) on the SEO essentials it’s good to focus on.

📍 Bonus tip: Focusing on local SEO is an awesome idea, as web searches for meeting rooms in almost all cases include a specific location like “meeting rooms in London”.

We’re not diving into this specifically in this post, but here’s a good guide on what local SEO is and how to take advantage of it.

Use content to boost your SEO

There are several reasons to invest time in creating a content strategy like reaching your target groups and driving traffic to your website.

Blogs are just one of the tools that can do that job. Tips, how-tos and any other information that’s useful for the people you want to attract to your space have a great impact not only on optimizing for search engines but on your overall brand reputation.

Make your website mobile friendly

marketing coworking website

We spend a significant time on our mobile devices, so the chances people will visit your website from their smartphone are high. Mobile friendly websites are ranked higher by Google and provide visitors with a better experience while browsing.

Besides for search engines, optimize for people!

Include on your website all the information a potential customer would need to make a decision. After all, if they don’t know what you sell, they’ll won’t buy.

Make sure to include location, rates, meeting facilities, room capacity, even parking/public transport instructions! If you offer additional services or amenities, make sure to point that out.

3/ Make meeting rooms easily bookable through your website

Your potential customers will probably have the following digital journey:

Search in Google → Come to your website → Receive enough information → Make a decision to book a meeting room

Eliminating any friction in the booking process is key to increase chances people will eventually book. Make booking easy, intuitive and quick!

It’s a good idea to make bookings possible at any time. Sometimes people need to book a meeting room urgently or it’s late in the evening and they need a room for the next morning.

A good way to achieve this is to expose the live availability of your meeting rooms to the public and allow people to directly make a booking.

You can do that with a number of scheduling tools, including OfficRnD’s meeting rooms management component (example screenshot below).

coworking meeting rooms booking software

4/ Present your meeting rooms interactively

The famous quote “A picture is worth a thousand words” totally applies here!

The idea here is to give a detailed presentation of your meeting rooms, so people can get a better and more complete feeling of them while browsing your online images.

Make sure you have great, high-quality photos. Hiring a professional photographer is a good idea. He/she will know how to capture the space from the right angle, with the proper lighting.

The more interactive you go, the better. Think about making 360°photos, videos or virtual tours. They require more money and efforts, but they are totally worth it because they present your meeting rooms in necessary detail.

📍Bonus tip: Including people in the photos/videos will create a better, more human feeling when your website visitors browse your gallery.

5/ Treat meeting rooms as a separate service

marketing coworking space meeting rooms

Provide exceptional service

Everything from cleanliness, to amenities, to properly working multimedia/ventilation! You don’t want to ruin a business meeting because of a lost HDMI cable or broken AC during a heatwave.

Listen to people and respond to their needs.

Maybe a need for soft drinks has popped up in the last minute. Or they’ll need an additional flipchart. Let people know they can reach out to you if they need something.

Even if they need a service that you don’t usually provide, it’s still worth it to go the extra mile. Probably it’ll be much easier for you than for them to organize their catering (as you probably know good suppliers from different events you’ve hosted). People will appreciate that gesture.

Take it personally.

Make sure to welcome your external guests when they arrive or pre-arrange access if they’re using your space after hours.

They don’t know your space so make sure they know which areas they have access to, and how to find things like the kitchen or bathrooms.

It’s also handy to be clear they know if they do or don’t have access to the community tea/coffee/snacks.

📍Bonus tip: Get to know the people who are coming to your meeting rooms. A quick chat with them about who they are and what they do is always a good way to learn how you can help each other in the future.

6/ Public events, promotions and pro-bono

marketing coworking space meeting rooms

The more people come to your meeting rooms, the bigger the chance they’ll think of you when their next meeting/event is coming up. Hosting public events can help you a lot!

Think about what kind of event your target audience would be interested in and organize them.

Giving discounts to people/professional organizations or even offering a room for free sometimes is another good way to promote your meeting rooms or just a great way to help out a local organization.

Conclusion

Meeting rooms and event spaces are a great way to increase revenue and have new people coming into your space. Treat your conference rooms like the asset they are!

Have you tried any of the approaches mentioned above? Share with us in the comments!