November 21, 2019
4 Best Practices for Hiring Your Coworking Staff
This article is the third article in a sales and marketing series written by CoworkingResources, a publication dedicated to helping coworking space owners, operators, and professionals navigate the flexible workspace industry.
Hiring employees for any new business is full of blind spots. From creating job listings to screening candidates to building workflows and a company handbook, the hiring process usually takes more time and energy than managers count on in the beginning. Recruiting for a coworking space can have its own unique challenges on top of all of this.
Coworking positions need to be filled by people who are passionate about the space and the community, as well as focused on the bottom line. This means finding people who see coworking as not just a job, but a mission worth striving for. Unless you already have a group of driven, like-minded individuals with the same vision to manage the space, screening for this kind of motivation can often take time.
If you’re struggling to find the right people to help you operate the business as well as contribute to the community, here are some hiring tips that might improve your search.
1. Write detailed and accurate job descriptions
One of the most common reasons for high employee turnover is a lack of clarity on the role and vague or unstated expectations, which lead to confusion and conflict down the road.
The most important thing is to be clear on exactly what the role is and be as detailed as possible in terms of responsibilities and giving tangible benchmarks. For a coworking space, this should include your vision for the business and how you expect the role to develop in the near future.
When considering who to hire, there’s also the added factor that most small businesses simply don’t have the funding to hire a full support team. Coworking spaces are meant to be able to run with lean teams anyway, but one person simply can’t do it all! Here are a few of the most essential roles (and their general personas) that a small coworking startup needs:
Community Manager: The community manager is often the first person members go to for help and their purpose is to cultivate relationships within the space to build the desired environment. This role is filled by someone who loves people and making connections but is also detail-oriented and great at multitasking. The community manager might be in charge of all member signups, tours, sometimes serve as the front desk associate, and host networking events and happy hours. A good community manager keeps things running smoothly in the space while also curating the company culture. In terms of responsibilities, this role is a mix between HR Manager, Event Planner, and Office Administrator.
IT Administrator: Somewhere between a building manager and an IT associate, this person thinks strategically and has excellent technical problem-solving skills. Preferably someone who has experience in IT, facilities management, and perhaps computer engineering. They should be responsible for maintaining the software and hardware that keep the business afloat, including making sure the WiFi is lightning-fast, installing and updating security or monitoring systems, and troubleshooting any devices or software that is needed.
Brand Ambassador and/or Marketing Manager: There are a hundred different titles for this role, but essentially, this person is all about your coworking brand. Whether your space is small and growing steadily, or is headed for rapid expansion, someone on the management team needs to be developing and promoting the unique voice of the space. To be successful in this role, the person should have strong content marketing abilities, copywriting skills, and an eye for design. They are responsible for all print and online marketing, design, copywriting, and communicating with press. Until the space grows enough to have a full marketing team, this will be the person building the visibility of your brand through blog writing, newsletters, and building the website.
Sales/Account Manager: While this might be the founder or CEO’s job in the beginning, building membership sales is easily a full-time job in and of itself. Depending on the size of the space, there may be a need for someone on the team to pursue and manage corporate clients or small businesses to fill the space. This could also mean hunting sponsorships or business partnerships for the space. Someone with B2B sales or acquisition experience would be good for this role.
Wherever they are in the hiring journey, it’s important for small coworking spaces to match the size of their management team with the realistic growth benchmarks that are taking place. Starting with a team that is too big or too small could cripple the growth of the space.
2. Post jobs on prominent coworking platforms and promote them through your network
Since the industry is still developing its own networks and platforms, there aren’t many job boards solely dedicated to coworking spaces. One of the few is Coworkies, which has listings for more than 270 jobs in coworking spaces around the world, including jobs in Berlin, New York, London, Paris, and other cities. AngelList, a job site dedicated to startup companies, may also be a good place to attract the kind of employees you are looking for. Remember you are looking for people who are passionate about the coworking industry, or at least have a strong interest in business development, startup culture or the general sharing economy.
You can also post jobs on popular job boards like LinkedIn, Glassdoor, or Google Jobs; however, here it’s even more important to craft a detailed and clear advertisement to reach a maximum amount of qualified candidates.
Few people look specifically for ‘coworking jobs’ when conducting their job search because 1) job titles in this industry often vary, making the appropriate positions hard to pinpoint and 2) that search tactic filters out too many opportunities, especially in smaller metropolitan/suburban areas. So from your side, it’s more effective to include specific phrases in the “responsibilities” and “preferred experience” requirements so you can cast a wider net for the best candidates. Even if a candidate doesn’t have previous experience in a coworking operations role, they could be perfect for your space based on a number of other factors, including management skills, HR/administrative experience, volunteer work, etc.
And of course, there may be people in your network or community who are already familiar with the space and want to take a more active role. Post any open positions on your social media channels, your website, and any community feeds that exist for your community. put the word out on any coworking forums you can find. Sometimes finding the right person for the job could be as simple as getting your community to spread the word.
3. The interview: Build a great candidate experience
Interviewing can be just as stressful for the manager as for the candidate, no matter what the business is. And since coworking space jobs usually require unique skill sets from people with a variety of skills, it’s important to create a comprehensive interview experience to get the most information possible. The resume will tell you a lot about a person but it alone may not be enough.
Here are some unique questions to ask during the interview that can help you get to the heart of why your space caught the applicant’s eye and what they have to offer:
- What services do you think a coworking space should offer its members?
- Have you worked in a coworking space before (as a member or an administrator)? If so, what were the biggest obstacles you faced within the space (large or small)?
- What personal goals do you like to set in your professional roles and how would they help build our brand?
These questions may prompt your candidates to think twice about what they really want to get from the job and consider their long-term ambitions. By forcing them to think of themselves as team members already, the candidates may show how much research they’ve already done on the space and exactly how motivated they are by the company culture.
4. Balance technology and face-to-face interaction
As mentioned earlier, coworking spaces often don’t need large teams of operators in the beginning. The underlying value for managers is that coworking spaces lend themselves to lean teams and more technology automation to allow businesses the freedom of flexibility. Before starting the hiring process, consider which roles could be reduced or completely avoided through various software solutions.
While face-to-face interaction is a necessary factor in community building and nurturing member relationships, a number of operations costs could be streamlined through software and hardware that make coworking spaces what they are: hubs for innovation and personal connection.
The above tips should help you identify the right people to join your team. It’s important to evaluate their passion for community and unique ways in which they can help strengthen your business and strengthen your community’s trust and loyalty to your brand. To do this, it takes a healthy balance of coworking management technology and passionate employees who can drive member satisfaction and community engagement.
Author: Ashley Davis
Ashley is the Managing Editor of CoworkingResources, a publication dedicated to helping coworking space owners, operators, and professionals navigate the flexible workspace industry.