BY DAVID KINNAIRD, PRESIDENT, ESSENSYS NORTH AMERICA
Simplify Complex Workspace Technology: Part 6 of the free eBook: The Complete Guide to Growing Your Flexible Workspace Business
We live in a constantly connected and online world in which Internet access is considered a commodity. Just about every aspect of our lives – especially conducting business – depends on the Internet. While we can all agree that shared workspaces provide more than just a workstation to customers, we must also admit that they simply cannot function without core IT services.
As a workspace operator, the most dreaded situation is the Internet going down. It is vital to provide reliable and secure Internet, Wi-Fi and even telephony services. Nowadays, however, granting shared workspace members control over their own ICT and communications services is an even greater value-adding feature.
Before the existence of customized flexible workspace platforms, operators contracted services from multiple vendors to deliver telephony services, Internet and Wi-Fi access. This approach typically required operators to hire a dedicated IT resource or a third-party consultant to manage the services and provide assistance to members. Not only is this a costly method but it is also complex: multiple vendors mean multiple contracts, disparate services that don’t speak to each other, and greater expenditure in terms of time, money and resources to manage them.
In our fast moving and growing industry, there is little time to deal with complexity. Implementing an integrated IT solution that can be managed via a simple interface gives operators a competitive advantage and enables them to deliver better, faster and more reliable services to their customers.
Get a Head Start
With the influx of new players in the market, from coworking hobbyists and business center franchises to commercial real estate companies, competition is high and you want to get it right from Day 1. It is essential to fit out and provision your core IT infrastructure and a workspace management platform between three and six months prior to opening your space.
First and foremost, the process of vetting out multiple providers on the market is taxing and time-consuming on its own (although it doesn’t have to be!). Second, for optimal Internet connectivity, design the cabling infrastructure and WAP layout during the construction phase to avoid potential signal obstruction. Despite living in a Wi-Fi world, traditional cabling and wired connectivity will provide the most reliable Internet delivery, and you should deliver wired connections to your users.
Implement a CRM platform that manages everything and integrates seamlessly with your billing, invoicing, inventory and all other workspace systems. Even better, implement a single platform that manages all aspects of the shared workspace.
Moving to a digital workspace management interface removes the traditional IT worries and server room hassles, while allowing operators to focus on running their business more efficiently. Digitizing the management of your processes and systems enables operators with self-service, automated provisioning and even network monitoring and support. You can free your time spent on mundane administrative tasks and unlock the chains of on-site management.
Going digital means operators can manage their space from wherever and whenever, while providing on-demand products and services to their members. Web and mobile access to the platform is a golden opportunity for operators to increase revenues by making their services and space available to members at any time.
Phone handsets are an essential service that customers seek in a business and executive center. Crisp high-definition voice quality is must have for any shared workspace, especially for video and group conferencing, which is a main revenue driver for many operators.
Coworking operators may choose not to offer phones at their sites since their tenants don’t tend to stay long and many of their members communicate primarily using their own mobile devices and new Wi-Fi based applications.
While offering telephony services is a no-brainer for traditional business centers and executive suites, coworking operators should consider the competitive advantage of extending the same services in their workspaces.
For starters, their members will be pleasantly surprised to make and receive calls over a crystal-clear connection with no drop-offs as they may experience on their cell phones. Using a handset will free the workspace Wi-Fi network from high traffic usage from calls made over Wi-Fi-based calling and messenger apps like Whatsapp, Skype and Viber.
Overall, operators in all sectors need to at least understand that they can leverage today’s digital technology and software applications to offer their members a softphone via a mobile app. Not only does this expand their service offering but also can help generate new revenue streams in their business.
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Underpinning Community, Revenue and Operations
When secure and high-performing IT underpins your entire workspace operation, the sky is the limit for delivering applications, processes, services, member experience and community-building. A robust infrastructure can support the online digital community of the workspace, enabling its members to interact, share business ideas and collaborate across different locations.
Creating a dynamic digital workspace community can often be the key to growth within today’s competitive market. Enabling members to build the community they want with easy-to-use tools is a direct factor in growing the workspace membership and ultimately revenue. Operators can leverage a strong member community interconnected by technology to demonstrate to landlords that there is a solid and flourishing customer-base, giving credibility to when they seek to expand their portfolio.
Workspace automation and self-service offers members on-demand services, while extending upselling opportunities to operators. Granting members access to control their own IT services brings the member experience to an entirely new level and gives operators up-selling opportunities that drive revenue. For example, when a video production company requires additional bandwidth, automation and self-service together will provision more data to the member and money to the operators’ pocket.
Looking to the Future
As more Millennials enter the workforce, their expectation around technology supporting their daily routines, both professional and personal, will become more demanding. This trend is only on the rise. The line between home and work is disappearing and employees require location flexibility and services that can adapt to their needs. Equipping your workspace with on-demand ICT and comms services puts you at a sharp competitive advantage when you’re against the competition.
Continue to Part VII: Offering More than Just a Workstation
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