5 Tips to Manage Your Members in a Coworking Space Under the COVID-19 Pressure
The growth of the coworking spaces globally was looking promising in 2019, giving coworking space owners and managers the promise of even better growth in 2020.
According to the statistics by AllWork, the global market value of the coworking space industry in 2019 was estimated at around $26 million. This number was expected to increase by 6% in the U.S. and by 13% globally by the end of 2022.
Industry analytics claimed that flexible workspace will become a new normal, as its popularity grew so fast over 2018 and 2019.
Coworking spaces around the world introduced technology to make the workspace more flexible. Residents were presented with best coworking software and coworking space apps to help them manage the workflow better.
However, just as with many industries around the world, the novel coronavirus affected the flexible workspace industry as well.
The United States Commercial Real Estate Services Group (CBRE) explored the topic of how coworking spaces around the world are dealing with the crisis related to the novel coronavirus.
In an interview with Vox, Julie Whelan, the head of Occupier Research at CBRE, told that just before the crisis started, the organization already saw a slowdown reported by the coworking space managers across the U.S.
As of now, according to Whelan, many coworking brands had to lay off their staff and close down because of the crisis. She also presupposes that the concept of coworking spaces will also change under the pressure of the current crisis.
In particular, Whelan suggests that coworking spaces might have to let go of the idea of communal areas and shared amenities, and shift towards more secluded working areas for the sake of protecting the employees and their health.
Naturally, these changes will impact how coworking space managers organize the community to be productive.
How can coworking space managers prepare for this?
Here are some tips on how to manage your members in a coworking space in the wake of the changes brought by the coronavirus crisis.
The very idea of a coworking space is to create a sense of community. However, if coworking spaces shift from communal areas to more private amenities, it could be challenging for the coworking space managers to make sure that residents still can work as a team.
To achieve that, it is important to create the areas around the coworking space, where the residents can spend time as a team. And we’re not talking about conference rooms.
Wayfinder, a coworking space in Denver, besides having all the standard coworking space amenities, offers residents additional areas, where teams can spend time together.
In particular, Wayfinder offers areas, where teams can play soccer and enjoy other outdoor activities that help evoke the sense of community.
Apart from creating similar areas for teambuilding, coworking space managers can also organize:
- Networking events. It can be weekly morning breakfasts, lectures involving guest speakers, monthly classes, meet-ups, game nights – any event that can bring the coworking space residents to get together.
- Launch a coworking space blog. As a coworking space manager, you can create a blog, where you will cover the recent events at your coworking space, share tips on how to create a sense of community or your recommendations of online coworking resources to follow. You can also make your blog accessible through a coworking space app.
- Create a member wall. This is a great idea to create a sense of not just a community, but a family working together in the same coworking space. Coworking space managers can assign this task to the admins of every group of residents, and manage this task the coworking space management software.
It is important to remember that many residents are looking for not only a space to work, but to get networking opportunities as well. They expect these networking opportunities to help them not lose the sense of community in their teams.
Coworking space managers can help evoke the sense of community by creating networking areas and events to help residents get together and maintain team spirit.
A while back, Iris Kavanagh, a community manager at Next Space, a network of coworking spaces in San Francisco, said in an interview with Enterprise Global that her work was more about curating than managing.
View the video on YouTube
By curating, she meant that her responsibility was to know every resident coming to work in her coworking space, know the essence of their work, and even make them comfortable to share the details of their personal lives with her.
This interview brought us to the idea that it is crucial for a coworking space manager to have one-on-one talks with residents as often as possible.
Getting to know your coworking space residents better and trying to better understand their profession is the basics of managing a shared workspace. You, as a coworking space manager, need to establish relationships with every resident to not just retain them as loyal customers, but also to better understand their needs related to working at a shared workspace.
This will especially be necessary if the approach to coworking spaces changes after the COVID-19 crisis. Coworking space managers will have to optimize the workplace as they go, figuring out what works and what doesn’t along the way. And the best way to do it is by aligning the changes with the needs of the coworking space residents.
A coworking space is essentially a big hub that includes different businesses, which come to this space to work and network. What coworking space managers should understand is that a hub means a community, and in a community, it is important to share progress.
Creating opportunities to share progress in a coworking space does not only work in favor of evoking a sense of community. It is also a way to increase productivity among coworking space residents.
We tend to imitate the behavior of others. Have you ever noticed, how inspired you become to exercise after you watch videos of people working out?
This is a positive side of mob mentality, which means that we follow the example of our peers if we consider it to be right and beneficial for us, and if it helps us fit in. The issue might be in convincing the residents to share their progress with other members of the coworking space.
How can coworking space managers encourage sharing?
- Create interactive boards. Every business that resides in your coworking space can do monthly updates to the board by sharing their successes to inspire other coworking space residents.
- Launch monthly networking events. During these events, residents can share their success stories and achievements with others. Such communication opportunities can bring residents useful connections, as they share their journey and achievements with others.
If the coronavirus-related crisis brings the changes to the nature of a coworking space, it is the task of the coworking space manager to make sure that the sense of community is retained, and sharing progress is an important part of it.
In case coworking spaces let go of their communal amenities and shared facilities and shift towards more private working spaces, it is important to make sure that at least some areas remain open for common use.
We already talked about the necessity of having the areas, where teams can get together to play soccer or hang out to evoke the sense of community.
They, however, are more likely to do it after working hours. And your coworking space should also have areas, where residents can get together during their workday, while they are on a break.
Currently, coworking spaces around the world offer their residents lounge and break rooms (67%), kitchens (58%), and recreation facilities (39%).
However, coworking space managers need to work on making these spaces more resident-friendly and inviting to encourage them to spend their break time in these facilities, especially if coworking spaces have to re-format themselves into more secluded working areas.
In this case, it is also important to remember that with the increasing tendency to work alone rather than in groups, teams will be more likely to utilize these facilities more often.
To make sure that every team gets the space they need, coworking space managers and administrators have to engage the best coworking space management software that will allow them to schedule and book these facilities for teams in advance.
Finally, it is important to round up our tips by pointing out that every effort that coworking space managers make to organize the work of their residents should also help raise brand awareness of this space.
One of the ways to raise brand awareness of a coworking space is by sharing a video, in which you invite the residents to talk about the benefits of your coworking space. You can use the video by Wayfinder.
A video is a very good idea not just to help raise awareness for the coworking space, as it will show that this is not just a workspace, but also a community. A video can also help inspire people to return to the idea of a traditional coworking space after the COVID-19 crisis is over.
The current pandemic will undoubtedly bring serious changes to many industries, and coworking spaces are not an exception. Today we already see people self-isolating and avoiding close communication with others, and this might remain our reality for the future.
So, when the pandemic ends, it will be in the hands of coworking space managers to restore the popularity of coworking spaces. Hopefully, our tips will inspire you to prepare for this change and benefit from it for the sake of your clients and the existence of coworking spaces in general.
The article was written by Daniela McVicker. Daniela is a blogger with rich experience writing about UX design, content planning and digital marketing. Currently, she contributes to Topwritersreview and Essayguard where she helps individuals and organizations improve their web content writing, design, and planning skills. Her posts are always packed with examples and actionable content that readers can put straight into the action.