The most successful coworking spaces we see are those who have embraced automation and used it to relieve the burden of mundane everyday tasks, so they have more time to focus on the work that only a human can do – like building community and cultivating connection.
So how do you create an automated coworking space that is still people-first and approachable?
In this article, we’ll dive into the world of automated coworking spaces to show you exactly how to leverage automation to grow your business and increase the value you provide to your members.
At the end of this article, you’ll have a complete idea of how to start incorporating automation in your coworking space.
What is an automated coworking space?
An automated coworking space is a shared workspace where all major operations run with limited human intervention. This includes:
- Desk booking
- Room booking
- Monthly payments
- Accessing the space
- Making a purchase
The goal of an automated coworking space is for members to sign up, come into the space, and pay for the experience without there needing to be a full-time employee onsite.
In fact, the number one reason we hear for pursuing automation is so that operators are able to work remotely while trusting that their coworking space is taken care of.
How can automation benefit your coworking business?
When our clients embrace automation, we see incredible things happen in their business. Here are some of the greatest benefits we see to introducing automation in your coworking space.
Improve the security of your space
Access control systems like Kisi can help you automate check-ins and access to the space. They also serve as an added layer of security by restricting who can access your space and when, giving you peace of mind that only those who are permitted to can access your venue.
Expand hours of operation
Automation enables you to keep your space open for longer, thus increasing the opportunity of generating revenue outside of the traditional 9 to 5 working hours. You may find that having your space open after hours attracts an entire new audience of entrepreneurs or freelancers who otherwise wouldn’t have accessed your space.
Enhance the user experience
One common misconception is that automation detracts from the user experience by limiting human interaction. Our experience has been the complete opposite. Most members not only appreciate, but prefer to be able to book a desk, pay for an invoice, and check in to the space all from their phone without needing to interact with another person.
Save time and money
Ultimately, the greatest benefit of automation is the ability to save time and money. Streamlining tasks through automation will free up hours of your time each week not chasing down invoices or manually checking people in. These streamlined operations along with the reduction in headcount needed to run your space will help you do more with less and generate more revenue over time.
An example of an automated coworking space
So what exactly does an automated coworking space look like and how does it function? Here is a step-by-step walkthrough of the member journey in a coworking space.
- Steven finds out about your coworking space after searching online. He visits your website and signs up for a day-pass.
- He pays for the pass on your website using his credit card.
- He receives an email that outlines everything he needs to know about the coworking space, including how to access it and where to download the coworking space app.
- He signs his membership agreement digitally.
- Steven accesses the space using his phone to unlock the door.
- When he accesses the space, he is checked in automatically and the community manager or operator is notified.
- Once in the space, he books a desk through his phone.
- He uses the member directory to connect with other members and introduce himself.
- If an issue arises, Steven is able to find the information he needs to address it himself, or reach out to the correct person to solve it for him.
- When his day pass expires at the end of the day, he loses access to the space and is digitally prompted to sign up for a monthly membership at a discounted rate.
The example above outlines what a completely unmanned automated coworking space may look like. However, many operators choose to have a community manager onsite part-time to support members.
In this case, since all of the mundane, daily management tasks are already taken care of, the community manager can focus their time and energy on creating an authentic and engaged community.
Why are automated coworking spaces growing in popularity?
Automated coworking spaces are growing in popularity for two primary reasons: advancements in technology and a shift in how coworking spaces operate.
Advancements in technology
2023 has been affectionately dubbed the year of Artificial Intelligence (AI). Everyone, including your members, are more accustomed to interacting with technology now than ever before. This creates an opportunity to leverage technology to cultivate a more autonomous coworking experience.
There have been significant updates to coworking technology and the coworking technology tech stack that are making it possible to run a space remotely. This includes:
- Advanced integrations, such as those between access control systems and coworking management software
- Increased automation capabilities such as with invoicing or daily check-ins
- New and emerging applications of AI in coworking spaces
Technology has made it possible for automated coworking spaces to exist, creating a tremendous opportunity for operators to take advantage of.
Shift in coworking operations
Along with technological advancements, there has also been a shift in coworking operations and how operators want to interact with their space.
More owners and operators are opening coworking spaces without wanting to be physically present or manage the space full-time. There is an increasing desire to open a coworking space part-time as a proof of concept or to manage multiple spaces with a small staff.
Automation enables operators to work remotely without needing to be physically present in the space every day. It also helps them operate under a more sustainable business model with a reduced and more intentional head count.
Who are automated coworking spaces for?
Everyone can benefit from introducing more automation into their coworking space. However, there are a few coworking demographics that may find it most beneficial.
- Those who are new to coworking: opening your first coworking space comes with a lot of unknowns. Those who are new to the industry can benefit from automation as it minimizes the number of decisions you’re responsible for in a day.
- Rural spaces: generating revenue in rural areas can be challenging, as the total addressable market is much smaller than in more densely populated areas. Therefore, reducing headcount through automation can be key to operating sustainably.
- Operators with full-time roles: more often, we’re seeing operators with full-time roles who are looking to open a space as a proof of concept. Given their other responsibilities, introducing automation is great for these individuals.
- 24/7 spaces: unless you’re planning on having a coworking manager in the space 24 hours a day, you’ll need some level of automation in your space if you’re looking to operate a 24-hour coworking venue.
Regardless of where you’re located or what you’re trying to accomplish, automation can be helpful in getting more done with less in your coworking space
How do you create an automated coworking space?
Creating an automated coworking space can significantly enhance efficiency, user experience, and member satisfaction. To achieve this, we’ll focus on four key aspects: technology implementation, process development, identifying areas for automation, and member education.
1. Get the right technology stack in place
Choosing the appropriate technology stack is crucial for the success of an automated coworking space. Consider the following elements:
Coworking management software: Implement a robust coworking management platform that allows members to book workspaces, meeting rooms, and amenities seamlessly. It should also provide easy access to membership information, billing, check-ins, and more from a mobile device.
Access control and security: Integrate an automated access control system that grants members access to the coworking space through mobile apps. Ensure that the system is secure and easily manageable to maintain the safety of the space.
Payment gateways: Set up the appropriate payment gateway to automate everything from daily payments to monthly invoices. Reduce the amount of manual work needed in the billing process.
Account software: Integrating with the appropriate accounting software can help you automate your monthly invoicing and create more streamlined financial processes. Learn more about coworking accounting software.
Smart environment management: Use IoT (Internet of Things) devices to manage the coworking environment efficiently. This includes automated lighting, temperature control, and air quality monitoring to create a comfortable workspace while saving energy.
2. Determine what you want to automate
Identify areas in your coworking space that could benefit from automation. We always recommend starting by automating the time-intensive and repetitive tasks in your space, first. This includes:
Space availability and check-In: Automate the process of checking space availability and allow members to check-in effortlessly upon arrival.
Meeting room booking: Enable members to book meeting rooms from their phone, view availability in real-time, and automatically receive access codes.
Billing and payments: Given the repetitive nature of accepting payments, these are a great one to automate regularly. This could include one-off payments in the space or monthly membership invoices.
3. Develop the right processes
Streamline your coworking space’s operations by developing efficient processes. This will ensure that the space functions seamlessly and all automation is happening as it should.
Onboarding process: Create a straightforward onboarding process for new members, allowing them to register, sign contracts, and gain access to the space quickly. This is critical if you plan on having an unmanned space, as members need to feel confident that they have all the information they need in order to be successful.
Regular maintenance and support: Establish protocols for regular maintenance and technical support to address any issues in the space promptly. Maintaining high-quality support can help build trust with members and ensure the space operates as intended.
Feedback collecting: Set up a way to gather input from members regularly. Use this feedback to continuously improve the coworking space’s automation and processes, and gauge whether or not the current processes in place are working as intended.
4. Educate your members
One final aspect of running an automated space is developing autonomous and educated members. It doesn’t matter how well automated your space is, if your members don’t feel supported, they won’t have a positive experience in your space.
Introduce your members to the automated systems and provide them with the necessary information to make the most of the coworking space. This can be done via:
Orientation sessions: Conduct orientation sessions for new members to familiarize them with the space and processes. This can be done virtually in regular cohorts or one-on-one as new members join. This is also an opportunity to begin building a relationship with new members.
User guides: Create user guides and tutorials that explain how to use the booking system, access amenities, and utilize collaboration tools. Many operators incorporate this into their coworking house rules.
Support and assistance: Offer support and assistance for members who may have questions or encounter issues when using the automated systems via digital issue reporting or direct admin contact.
Regular updates: Keep members informed about any changes or updates to the automated processes and seek their feedback for further improvements. This can be done through regular announcements or posting in a centralized community feed via your coworking software.
By carefully implementing the right technology stack and developing streamlined, efficient processes, you can create an automated coworking space that maximizes efficiency and provides an exceptional user experience for all members.
Choosing the right software to enable automation
When it comes to automation, coworking management software is the heart of the operation.
With the right management software in place, you can seamlessly manage all aspects of automation, from payments to access control, in one centralized location.
At Optix, we’ve enabled hundreds of coworking leaders around the globe to create a fully autonomous coworking space. With robust booking and member management, we empower coworking operators to effortlessly handle bookings, memberships, billing, and more.
That’s how clients like Steve have been able to run their space completely remotely.
“When my members need something, I need to be able to address it or it needs to be self-serve. Now with Optix, everything is automated and works well.”Steve Krueger, CEO and Founder of ECOMSquare
With Optix, coworking space leaders can elevate their operations, embrace automation, and deliver a top-notch experience that keeps members productive, satisfied, and eager to return.
Ready to learn more about Optix? Book a demo with a member of our team today and start a 14-day free trial.