- There are two key elements of managing a coworking space: people management and operations (or space) management
- When managing your operations, you’ll want to get set up with the right technology, develop solid systems and processes, and automate as many daily operations as possible
- When managing people, you’ll want to set clear rules and expectations, have a plan for dealing with disturbances, and collect member feedback often
Coworking space management is robust.
There is a lot to think about, from how you handle daily check-ins to what to do if a member is disturbing others in the space.
Successful management starts with lots of empathy, a positive attitude and the implementation of fool-proof systems and processes.
In this article, we’ll show you how to manage a coworking space including tips on managing your team, your members, and your day-to-day operations.
How to manage a coworking space
There are two key elements of managing a coworking space: people management and operations (or space) management.
- Operations management: how you manage the day-to-day business operations
- People management: how you manage your members and your employees
Each element of managing the space, from people management to the day-to-day operations, can be a job in and of itself.
You may not have the capital to afford to hire an entire team before opening your coworking space, and that’s okay. You can be strategic in your space management and get away with just a few key resources and a solid system in place.
At the very least, we do recommend hiring a great community manager if and when you can afford to. They can help take care of a lot of the repetitive operational tasks, as well as general member management on the day-to-day.
That way, you can focus more of your time on developing your overall business strategy to help you grow your coworking business.
Managing coworking space operations
When most people think of managing a coworking space, they think of managing the operations. This includes things like:
- Billing and invoicing
- Refilling coffee
- Buying supplies
Managing your operations efficiently is paramount to ensuring the business runs smoothly.
Tips for managing your coworking business operations
1. Get set up with the right technology
Technology is an essential part of efficient space management. If you want to save time and money on your day-to-day operations, you need a solid coworking technology ecosystem.
We talk a lot about how to create a great tech stack (you can find it in the article above). The most important thing to keep in mind when choosing your software is to choose technology that will fit your business.
It sounds simple, but here is where many people go wrong: they decide which software they want first and then modify their business model to fit the platform.
Rather, look for a platform and company that aligns with not only how your business is set up, but how you want to run your business. For more information on choosing software for your coworking space, check out our guide to choosing the best coworking management software.
2. Develop solid systems and processes
Technology will only get you so far. You need strong systems and processes in order to successfully manage your coworking business operations.
This could mean:
- Using a project management tool like Asana, Trello, or ClickUp to track tasks across team members
- Creating spreadsheets to help you keep track of what needs to get done and when
- Setting aside an hour every Sunday night to map out that week’s essentials
The best system is one that allows you to look at things both long-term and short-term.
Figure out what you want to accomplish on a yearly, monthly, weekly, and daily basis. Create a system that integrates them all together. It’s a cheat code for getting things done.
3. Automate as many daily operations as possible
The modern coworking space is autonomous. Introducing automation into your space will help you:
- Make your business operations more efficient
- Save time and money on staffing, mundane tasks, and more
- Improve the security of your space
- Expand your hours of operation
Start by looking for repetitive tasks in your space like billing, invoicing, and bookings, and see how you can make them more automatic – hint: this is where coworking technology can become hugely beneficial.
Automation really is the future of coworking spaces. It’s an amazing way to keep your business lean and cost effective as you expand. Learn how to make your space more autonomous with this guide to automated coworking spaces from Coworking Resources.
People management in coworking spaces
Looking after your physical space is a significant part of managing a coworking space. Not to be outdone however, is the importance of managing people.
People management in coworking spaces includes:
- Member management: are your members happy and taken care of? Do you know how to handle member disturbances when they occur?
- Employee (team) management: does your team feel supported? Are they set up to do their best work?
Taking care of your members is the building block for a healthy, happy coworking community. Supporting your team means enabling them to do their very best work. Both are essential to creating a healthy business.
Tips for managing members in your coworking space
4. Set clear rules and expectations
The best thing you can do for member management is set clear rules and expectations from the beginning and communicate them effectively. This is often referred to as your house rules.
Your house rules is a 1-3 page document that outlines:
- Your company values
- Basic need-to-knows (hours, parking, payments, etc.)
- How to access amenities in the space (using a printer, using an access control system, etc.)
- Rules and regulations (dog policy, guests, coming in after-hours, etc.)
When creating this document, make sure it is accessible in multiple places at any given time including on your website, emailed to your members directly during their onboarding, and in your space itself.
The more information you can include up front, the more you can avoid confusion and difficulties later on.
5. Have a plan for when there is a disturbance (and clear consequences)
Dealing with a disturbance is almost always going to be uncomfortable. Having a plan will help mitigate this discomfort.
Have some general guidelines on how to handle common disturbances internally as a team. Here are a few examples of things you’ll want to have an action plan for:
- A member is behaving in a way that repeatedly disturbs another member or makes another member feel uncomfortable
- A member behaves hostile towards you or a member of your team
- A member has not paid their bill for some time
Map out a few of the most common member situations that can happen in your space and have a specific plan of how to handle them. This will make both you and your team feel significantly more prepared.
Be sure to outline any consequences in your house rules as well, and enforce them when disturbances occur. The enforcement of clearly outlined rules will help ensure less issues in the future.
6. Collect member feedback often
Member feedback is invaluable to improving your space, and a great coworking member survey can help you get all of the information that you need.
Develop a habit of asking your members how they feel about their experience being a member of your space. This can help you be proactive in your member management strategy and become an effective leader.
You can schedule surveys to occur at the one, six, and twelve-month membership mark to receive feedback on the employee experience at a variety of stages. You can also create systems for regular feedback by including a quick link on your website or in your mobile app.
Tips for managing your coworking space employees
7. Be clear on your values
A cohesive team is built in part by a shared value system.
Before you even begin hiring for your space, think about what you stand for as a company and nail your mission statement.
This could be:
- We want to support working parents
- We want to build a community for women in tech
- We want to foster entrepreneurship, innovation, and forward-thinking initiatives
Once you align on your mission and values as a company, enforce them often in everything that you do. Not only will this bring your team together around a common goal, but it will also strengthen your coworking brand and ensure your team truly believes in your mission.
8. Have clarity on each other’s roles and responsibilities
Clarity is one of the best things you can provide as a team leader.
Humans love structure and expectations – without them, we struggle to see how what we do fits into the bigger picture.
How do you go about creating clear roles and responsibilities for your team?
- Have an org chart stating each person’s name and key responsibilities kept somewhere on file for people to refer to
- Consider using a RACI chart for bigger projects – these map out who is responsible, accountable, consulted and informed on what task for any given project
- Craft a clear job description that outlines the roles and responsibilities of each position so it’s clear before someone joins the team
It can be easy to ask a lot of your team and want them to step up to fill the different needs of the company. However, part of being a good leader is respecting their boundaries.
Once you set roles and responsibilities, be mindful not to request things of your employees that are outside of their job description. It’s one sure-fire way to build an unhappy and resentful team.
9. Set team and individual goals
Goals and objectives are a great way to keep your team unified and motivated.
They also provide focus, give a sense of personal satisfaction, and help ensure your business is staying on track in hitting its targets.
It’s important to set both individual goals (objectives that one single team member is responsible for) and team goals (objectives that the entire team contributes towards).
There are many different frameworks you can use to set goals in your space. Here are a few we see the most:
- SMART goals: this framework is one of the most popular and ensures your goals are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely
- OKRs: used by Google, this framework is made up of objectives (what we want to achieve) and measurable key results (how we will achieve it)
- BSQ: this framework stands for “thinking big, acting small, and moving quickly”, and is comprised of small actions done on a timeline to achieve big goals
If you’re interested in setting goals for your team, this guide to goal-setting will help you learn everything you need to know.
10. Lead with empathy
Perhaps the most important part of managing a team is being an empathetic leader.
Practicing empathy in business has been shown to:
- Increase productivity
- Improve sales and revenue
- Expand engagement and collaboration
Being empathetic is more than just listening to and rewarding your team members. It’s about making a concerted effort to understand who they are and where they’re coming from.
It’s about showing respect and recognizing them as an individual person…and not just your employee.
Start with a system
Effective management, whether it’s in a coworking space or in your personal life, is built upon having the right systems in place.
If you’re just getting started in coworking, then thinking about your coworking space management in terms of operations and people early on can do wonders in terms of your efficiency, your user experience, and ultimately, your bottom line.
Looking for a technology system that can support you in your journey and an experienced thought partner with coworking expertise? Learn how Optix can help you manage your coworking business.