Running a coworking or flexible office space can be rewarding and exciting. By the very nature of the agility and flexibility that the coworking model offers to occupiers, operators find themselves struggling to simplify the multiple layers of complexity added to their operation. With demand for this office type on the rise and new market players throwing their hats into the ring, the pressure is on for operators to compete and scale their brand while safeguarding their business for the future. So how are operators mitigating the risks of running a future-proofed flexible workspace business? Below we look at some top tips for operators who want to run an efficient operation, scale their business, and keep happy customers in the fast growth coworking market.
Focus on the occupier experience
In a business model as dynamic and complex as a flexible workspace, it’s easy to get caught in the weeds of operational tasks and business forecasting. However, neglecting other critical elements such as hospitality and experience can be detrimental to brand and very often leads to missing the mark on meeting tenant expectations. With coworking space on the rise and expected to reach 30% of total office inventory by 2030, according to a study by JLL, operators are wise to make their tenants the focus of their business model. Happy customers are renewing customers.
Having staff with experience in hospitality and trained in customer service is critical in this industry. But what actually underpins an optimal member experience is technology. Operators need to constantly think about how to simplify the customer journey within their workspace – from when a prospect books a tour to when a customer pays their bill or requests new services. The unique contribution technology makes in delivering a smooth and frictionless experience is often overlooked. But technology and software applications can bring the physical and digital together within a workspace and simplify the process for operator and occupier alike.
Operators are leveraging technology to activate space and services on-demand by flex-space tenants and monetize them at the same time. For tenant’s agility and flexibility are critical – they want services at their fingertips and on-demand for an optimal member experience.
Impeccable Wi-Fi and connectivity
Your tenants are in your space because they have work to do. We all know that a business can’t run, and people can’t get to work without a reliable internet connection. According to a recent Deskmag Global Coworking Survey, poor internet was the top reason members abandoned their coworking space. So, getting it right is more than a technicality, it’s a matter of your bottom line. Knowing how wireless internet works, avoiding pitfalls, and understanding the security and management options for this mission-critical service is vital in the fast-growth coworking sector.
There is a myriad of factors that play into offering “ultra-fast” Wi-Fi, and it’s critical to understand them before implementing a network solution. As a general rule of thumb, Wi-Fi and technology services should be considered at the same time as the space fit-out to prevent obstruction and spots of no coverage by building structures such as glass walls and pillars. Access points, collision domains, SSID overhead also form part of the nitty-gritty tech details that can make or break internet speeds in your space. The best way to guarantee a fast and reliable internet connection is to offer an enterprise-grade technology solution that is purpose-built for multi-tenanted and shared workspace environments.
Premium brands are offering dedicated private cloud connectivity to tenants and members to avoid the risk of wild west Internet connectivity.
Take network security seriously
Security is a process, not a product. You can buy a lock for your door, but if you don’t lock it when you leave the premises, it won’t stop intruders. Safeguarding your and your tenants’ businesses is a technical process that requires a degree of investment. But network security should be taken seriously. The very nature of security is to make things harder to do, which is why people often neglect or shortcut it. Unfortunately, it’s unavoidable. The best approach is to automate steps where possible and make the processes of setting up and maintaining access to locations and systems as frictionless as possible. Tying services such as telephony, Wi-Fi, and access control together in a single system makes security maintenance seamless and easy for operators of flexible workspaces.
Sadly, nothing is free, and making sure that a flexible workspace location is secure undoubtedly has a degree of investment associated with it. However, the cost of a security breach is often underestimated until someone experiences it. From putting data integrity at stake and risking your brand reputation, it is critical to safeguard your business by putting proper network security measures in place. From an operator’s perspective, the ROI will become tangible when larger, more sophisticated tenants require a higher degree of security when they move in. Without it, they simply won’t sign. Given the number of high-profile data breaches in recent years, this is only going to become more of a table-stakes requirement.
Simplify your workspace operation
The coworking business model is operationally complex because of the many dynamic and multiple facets it seeks to serve. From lead to cash collection, there are a plethora of processes that need to be managed day in and day out for each tenant. When you combine those tasks with maintaining high occupancy rates, making service moves, adds and changes, and reporting on key business metrics, it becomes easy for a coworking business to tailspin out of control. Managing multiple vendors, tools, contracts, and systems result in a time consuming, resource-heavy operation and remove the focus from your members and business growth.
Many providers – in particular landlords and asset managers dipping their toes in the coworking waters – aren’t in the slightest aware of the many moving parts that comprise an efficient and scalable operation. Ensuring that the right technology is in place to automate processes, onboard and manage prospects and customers, provision and bill for services, among other things, can simplify the operational activity associated with running a coworking space.
The easier it is for you and your staff to run your space portfolio, the easier it is for tenants to consume services seamlessly. Smart technology eliminates the many hurdles of running a multi-tenanted office environment so your staff can spend less time configuring phones or calculating credit notes and more time building customer relationships. The right tech platform enables operators to integrate with targeted tools that improve the member experience, such as cloud-based printing and visitor management. Having a single technology platform empowers operators to run smarter, simpler, and faster, and better positions them to scale in a fast-growth market.
Position your staff for success
In our 13+ years working with coworking operators, one of their biggest pain points is staff retention. Not only is it a challenge to find good talent with experience in hospitality and customer service skills, but to train them and retain them poses additional risks to brand reputation. Training staff on multiple disparate systems required to run a flexible workspace leads to frustrated employees and in turn, poor customer service.
Clunky systems management becomes a burden, an unnecessary cost, and an impediment to productivity. As we explained in the section above, simplifying operations into a single technology platform is critical to your operation, and in this case, improves staff morale. Empowering employees to do their job easier, simpler, and faster, leads to happier employees and in turn, a better experience for your members.
Make data-driven business decisions
With new competition entering the market, it’s more important than ever for coworking operators to keep track of business performance using data analytics. Having a 360-degree view of your operation and workspace portfolio helps operators to make intelligent business decisions that result in slick-running and profitable shared workspaces. Insight from advanced reporting not only aids smart-driven strategy decisions but can also give you an edge against competitors and deliver an excellent member experience across your workspace portfolio.
Multi-site reporting, space occupancy dynamics, and other metrics are vital to sustain, grow, and predict the future of a scaling coworking space business. It also allows you to get closer to your tenants and understand them better by identifying consumption trends with real-time and accurate insights. With smart technology from essensys, operators are leveraging advanced reporting that makes their workspace more efficient, informs business decisions, and helps to tailor value propositions to their customers.
Future-proofing a flexible workspace and meet demand in this fast-evolving office market comes down to optimizing your operation and making your customers happy. To learn more about how operators are leveraging the essensys platform to run a more efficient, differentiated and scalable operation, click here.