Last week essensys took to the road as sponsors of the QTLY Atlanta event. QTLY is a workspace industry event series intended specifically for owners and operators of shared workspaces and collaborative programs in local markets that will also take us to Chicago, San Diego, Los Angeles, Seattle and Portland.
Atlanta is a shared workspace market that boasts a gamut of Coworking flavors, from warehouse workspaces focused on e-commerce businesses to the traditional family-run serviced office. Hosted by JLL, QTLY Atlanta showed a strong turnout of ambitious and enthusiastic operators including Northpoint Executive Suites, Shared Space, Alkaloid Network and Roam Innovative Workplace. Because demand is clearly driving supply in the market, particularly in Atlanta, we found that there wasn’t a sense of competition among operators. That said, Atlanta operators are naturally creating niche workspaces and are inspired to build communities based on their members’ shared interests.
There was animated discussion around member engagement, creating community, helping companies to grow, value-added services, taxes, and human talent acquisition in the shared workspace, among others. Here are our key takeaways from Atlanta.
The Industry Is Still Very Young
Noah Wallach, partner at Communitas and co-organizer of the QTLY event series, revealed what market players don’t often realize. There is a very small percentage of the workspace market that is classified as shared workspace. This means that anyone currently operating is at an advantage and technically much ahead of the early adopters. Those of you who are thinking about starting up or even stimulating growth of your workspace are best to start soon before the market is too saturated.
Having systems in place is critical
From hiring to workspace management, operators truly benefit from having vital systems in place. Not deviating from processes keeps you and your staff safeguarded from exterior circumstances and better equipped to respond to unexpected issues that may arise on a day to day basis.
Don’t Force Community
Without a doubt community is a selling factor of any shared workspace or Coworking space but it can’t be forced. There’s a delicate balance between creating a sense of community and hounding your members to participate in the community and events. So, how do you stimulate the interactions? Try Lunch N Learns, Community potluck lunches, Member Spotlights, Happy Hours, Creating traditions. Go a step further and enable your members to own and drive certain events and be the champions of your workspace community. Don’t forget that underpinning the physical community with access to digital community where members can interact on their own time and at their own pace is a value-add to your services offering.
Billing, invoicing, online bookings and other services integral to space management are must-haves when evaluating service features. However, what other capabilities are the contenders able to extend to you and your customers? To stay competitive, operators are seeking to extend member services beyond the standard Internet or telephony access.
The likes of a community platform that connects members across locations; 24/7 access control, self-service bandwidth and event promotion are just a few revenue-driving services that can prevent churn and keep your space growing and your customers happy. Partner with a technology provider who thinks about the growth of your business just as much as their own.
Metrics are Key
Having run multiple locations for Avanta Serviced Office for over ten years, industry-expert David Kinnaird lent a word or two of advice to newer operator. He spoke to the necessity of automating every aspect of the workspace business, from sales and marketing to ecommerce and service provisioning. He highlighted the importance of giving both your staff and your members tools that add value to their daily lives, such as an online and on-demand access to services and integrated systems to manage services consumption, billing and invoicing.
David delved into the nitty-gritty of workspace management metrics and key reporting (link to Metrics article, when published) that operators must keep their eyes on to be profitable. Rather than gluing data together from multiple sources make it a painless experience to measure the performance of your business by tracking everything and reporting from within one platform. For more information on David’s presentation click here.
We had a great time meeting the movers and shakers of Atlanta’s shared workspace market. From niche communities to hospitality-focused models, they are undoubtedly bringing more people into the workspace industry. The market continues to grow and operators are still figuring out the best and most efficient methods to running their businesses, from workspace management and taxes to printing. Events like QTLY bring workspace masterminds together to guide each other, share and compare experiences.
Next on our US Road trip agenda: Chicago! Stay tuned for the recap.