Virtual Coworking Membership Plan: Why Would You Want to Add It to Subscriptions
We have already got used to living in both the physical and virtual worlds. Coronavirus crisis made the boundary between them even more subtle. Due to severe social distancing even hospitality businesses have to transfer their activities online.
Coworking spaces invent new business models to retain existing customers and attract new leads. They review current pricing plans and introduce flexible policies. Conventional offers are not sufficient anymore, so Virtual Membership is frequently added to regular packages, such as:
- Hot desks
- Dedicated desks
- Private offices
In this article I will tell you everything you need to know about Virtual Coworking Membership Plan. You will learn what is a virtual coworking, how can it benefit your members as well as your workspace, and how can you implement it in your hub.
Not all coworking spaces are profitable, especially now, in times of economic recession. However, if you are a smart businessman you won't miss a single opportunity to make money. For instance, if your coworking center is located in the luxury business area of the city, it is a great source of revenue.
— The physical address of the coworking center is almost as important as its community. Your tenants want prestigious locations for their offices, moreover that they can get it at minimal to no extra cost.
— If you offer a virtual office, it can represent one more additional stream of profit. On one hand, you will attract high quality leads to your location. Eventually they may want to upgrade a virtual plan to full-time membership and start to use more of your coworking services.
— On the other hand, entrepreneurs that use virtual offices bring their clients and colleagues to your space, they attend your events adding diversity to your community and bringing traffic to the workspace.
— Besides, such customers have different needs and requirements, knowing and catering to which you improve the flexibility of your services and enrich them with new products.
— What's more, the users of virtual office space are loyal, they may stay with you for years. So, you get a stable income at relatively low maintenance costs.
In this section, we are going to discuss virtual coworking and virtual office concept in detail.
The main difference between a virtual office and a coworking space is that the former exists only virtually and the latter has a physical location. However, the amenities offered by virtual offices are very close to those of actual spaces. For instance, they provide entrepreneurs with:
- the physical address,
- call answering, and more.
Who are virtual offices mainly for?
Virtual offices are advantageous solutions for businessmen working from home. They can use a professional address to look more credible to the customers. Entrepreneurs that travel or move all the time can also benefit from a virtual office as there is no need to change business address all the time.
Virtual office service helps small businesses look professional and trustworthy to their clients as they can choose from a wide variety of available addresses and register their enterprises in the most status places.
The concept of virtual coworking is not absolutely new. It appeared long before the COVID-19 pandemic but started to spread much faster during the outbreak when coworking operators were looking for ways to adjust their workspaces to isolation mode.
When organized right, a virtual coworking provides pretty much the same membership benefits as physical space but members don't have to be at the same place.
With virtual coworking you get the sense of community while working from wherever you are. You virtually sit at a specific desk marked in the virtual floorplan, interact with other residents throughout the day, go to virtual locations such as phone booths and meeting rooms.
In a word, you live a usual coworker's life but without physical contacts, and access to coffee or printing. All activities take place in virtual settings.
We have already said a lot about virtual coworking. Now let's make a brief list of possible perks a virtual coworking membership plan can include.
- Physical address,
- mail receipt and forwarding,
- lobby directory listings (if space is located in a building),
- access to meeting space, desks, and private offices,
- live receptionist services.
You can use different price models for your virtual services. Some of them can be offered for free when a member buys regular membership and some (such as VoIP services, live receptionist services, and access to the workspace) can be offered for an additional fee.
Main pros and cons of virtual coworking membership:
- No limitations. Virtual coworking spaces are free from any boundaries of physical space.
- Global audience. With virtual coworking membership you can provide most of your coworking services to a larger audience worldwide.
- You can sell virtual membership to an unlimited number of members. You are also not limited on the amount of space in the virtual domain.
- Low maintenance costs. Once you set up a virtual coworking membership plan, your bills won't raise even when new members join the workspace as no logistics are involved in running a virtual coworking.
- Harder to nurture a sense of community. It's a challenging task for community managers to build community in virtual coworking spaces. They need to be creative to involve members in social life, networking, and collaboration. Yet, there is no community event that can't be adapted for online members.
- Higher disengagement level. People join virtual coworking spaces easily but community managers should put much effort into keeping members engaged and encourage active participation. All weekly events should start with efficient ice breakers.
- When some of your virtual services are offered for free, members often forget about them. You should remind them about your perks regularly. Community feed inside your main coworking software is a perfect place for such publications and notifications.
I have already mentioned above that virtual coworking benefits are similar to those of physical spaces. Most freelancers come to coworking centers to have people around them and not to be lonely while they work during the day.
When a customer signs up for virtual membership, they get the same feeling working from home or any other place. Other community members are only a click away from you. Just click the button to start interacting with others or view the virtual map to see where your peers are at the moment.
For example, you can see a group of people discussing essential stuff in the virtual meeting room. Or you can see a person talking over the phone in the virtual phone booth.
Some coworking spaces have customizable rooms, so you can see what exactly a person is working on. This is a cool functionality for teams collaborating on the same project. It helps to ensure that all employees are on the same page.
Virtual coworking brings people together no matter their geographical location and enables them to join efforts with professionals that may reside on the other side of the world.
Speaking about teamwork and virtual coworking, I can't help mentioning Multihouse Entertainment company that used the service to grow its product line.
Using the technology they were able to build a creative team beyond the geography and give talents from all over the globe a unique opportunity to develop products in Hollywood while staying at home. Thanks to that, in a few months, they achieved progress that would take years otherwise.
By using virtual coworking spaces we’ve been able to build our team out considerably faster with branches now in New York, Orlando, soon Atlanta, and by mid-2020 the United Kingdom. Creating one seamless workflow that doesn’t consider geography when hiring talent.
~ Michael Tessler, film and television producer
At this point you probably want to see real-life examples of virtual coworking spaces. Here they go:
- WeCoffee is a coworking space in London. It provides a fusion of online coworking with an active Slack group / online workspace, and physical workspaces.
- Sococo is an online workspace for distributed teams to get together and collaborate on a daily basis. They have a virtual floor plan, however, individual entrepreneurs can't enjoy the perks as this virtual coworking space is aimed at teams only.
- MyWorkHive provides virtual coworking that members can enter through Slack. It is a place to share ideas, learn, and get work done. Their virtual service is more tailored to B2B consulting.
- Caveday is a virtual coworking space where entrepreneurs can work on big and small projects, get science-based tools, tips, and techniques, get motivated by peers, and get support from leadership coaches.
- LIFT99 nurtures a vibrant startup community in Slack. Here you can join weekly member-only events, a network of global founders & creatives, and get first-hand access to the best investors & advisors.
Now, when you know what is virtual coworking and how your brand and your members will benefit from it, it's time to get some tips on how to set up virtual membership at your coworking space.
— Basically, to start a workspace online, you need an online portal where members will work from virtual rooms. In other words, members of a particular space turn on their cameras and can communicate with other people sharing the same room as if they work together for real.
— To make your coworking look and feel like a physical location, you can create a virtual floorplan and supply each member with an avatar. This way, everyone will see where others are and know what they are doing or working on.
— Members can knock at virtual doors before coming in and close them if they do not want to be disturbed.
— The goals of virtual workspaces are to enable members to work remotely, interact with others, learn new things together, and share experiences. A virtual coworking must provide a sense of community and encourage the high productivity of members.
— Besides, virtual coworking should facilitate members to discover people with similar interests, network, and collaborate with them. You can run an online forum, weekly virtual events, personal introductions, and any other activities you can think of.
— To transfer your coworking space online, you need to have the best technologies at place. Currently, you can close great deals as lots of software providers offer tools for remote work at huge discounts to help businesses overcome the coronavirus crisis.
— Train your managers to work with online communities and use advanced tools and technologies.
Pro tip: Add virtual coworking membership to the catalog of services to sell the plans more efficiently through your coworking space app.
— Work out an error-free process for handling members' mail. You need to figure out how to recognize the names of the users of your virtual offices. The most common problem pointed out by virtual office users is that their mail gets returned to the sender because the staff doesn’t recognize their names.
— The best solution is to go through the CMRA (Commercial Mail Receiving Agency) notarization process in order to fine-tune a reliable mail handling and forwarding process.
Virtual coworking spaces are growing popularity because of their unprecedented flexibility, affordable costs, and multiple benefits recapped above. The future of coworking is likely to incorporate advanced technologies along with virtual elements. If you acknowledge the truth, your workspace has all chances to thrive in the coming years.
More and more companies are already offering virtual coworking spaces and this kind of membership enjoys increasing popularity. Virtual offices may turn the tables on your coworking space and switch it from unprofitable to profitable. If you agree that virtual membership has strong potential in terms of revenue, let me know in the comments!