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05/14/2022

The Future is Autonomous: How to Create a 24/7 Automated Coworking Space

Welcome to the age of automation.

Everything from restaurants to grocery stores to coworking spaces, are benefiting from the introduction of automation.

An automated coworking space is an efficient coworking space. It frees up the time of operators and managers, so you can focus on the things that you really want to spend your time on, like building relationships with the members of your space.

At Optix, we know just how powerful an automated space can be for business owners. In this guide, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know to start growing your business with the help of automation.

What is an automated coworking space?

How to Create a 24/7 Automated Coworking Space

An autonomous or automated coworking space is a space that can run by itself with limited need for human intervention.

Everything that can be automated in the space, is, including:

  • Door access
  • WiFi access
  • Check-ins
  • Bookings
  • Invoicing
  • Payments
  • Printing

This is all made possible through a powerful integrated tech stack.

Autonomous spaces are not about removing human interaction from coworking spaces.

Rather it is about maximizing the time of you and your employees.

When the redundant, day-to-day tasks are automated, your and your employee’s time is freed up to do the things that really matter, like building community in your space, planning events, and connecting with members on a human level.

Who are automated coworking spaces for?

Any overworked community manager knows that their space can benefit from automation.

We find that autonomous coworking spaces make the most sense for:

  • 24/7 coworking spaces: staffing a space 24/7 is expensive. Automation supports members after hours without needing a receptionist
  • Spaces in small, rural communities: a smaller market often means lower profit margins. Automation makes running a small-scale coworking space possible by reducing the need for human intervention
  • Spaces looking to reduce or eliminate front-house permanent staff: replacing a receptionist with specialized team members like Entrepreneurs in Residence or Community Builders can be a smart way for spaces to differentiate themselves

Automation, in its many capacities, can serve a variety of needs across the spectrum of coworking spaces.

How can automation benefit your coworking business?

How to Create a 24/7 Automated Coworking Space

Introducing automation into your space is all about improving the overall efficiency of your coworking business.

You want to be able to get more done, faster.

An automated coworking space can help you:

  • Improve the security of your space
  • Expand hours of operation
  • Enhance the user experience
  • Save time and money

With the help of automation, your managers will be able to spend more of their time building community, connecting with your members, and cultivating a hospitable and inspiring coworking community.

What does an automated coworking space look like?

What does it mean to have your coworking space be truly automated? Here is a step-by-step walkthrough of what a member would experience in an automated space.

  1. Jane signs up for your coworking space on your website. She selects her plan and pays for her first month
  2. She gets emailed her membership agreement and signs digitally
  3. She receives an automated email welcoming her to the space, beginning her onboarding and giving her instructions on how to access the coworking workplace app
  4. Jane accesses the space using a door access control system like Kisi using the mobile app
  5. When she scans her phone, the coworking space operator is notified that she has checked in
  6. Once inside, she is able to do anything she needs from her phone
  7. She purchases a snack, books a podcast mike for this afternoon, and reserves a hot desk with her phone. All accrued charges are then automatically added to her monthly invoice
  8. She sits down at her desk for some focus heads down time and a few hours later is greeted by a community manager who is able to give her a personalized tour and introduce her to a few other members
  9. If she does have an issue, she is able to take a photo and automatically report it in-app and there is documentation on exactly what to do so she feels empowered and well supported
  10. At the end of the month, her invoice is sent to via email and automatically charged to her credit card

Jane is able to interact with the coworking space and complete everything she needs to do all from the comfort of her devices.

Because the community manager’s time is free from doing mundane tasks, they’re able to welcome Jane into the space and offer her one-on-one attention where it matters.

How do you create an autonomous coworking space?

How to Create a 24/7 Automated Coworking Space

Creating an automated coworking space is about having the right tools and the right mindset.

You need to understand what aspects of your business can benefit from autonomy, and which are better left to human intervention.

There are two sides to an automated coworking space: autonomous members and an autonomous space.

Creating autonomous members

An autonomous member is one who feels well-informed and well-supported. They feel empowered the minute they step into your space.

They know how to access all of the information they need in order to be successful in your coworking space.

You can begin to create autonomous members by:

  • Creating easy-to-access guides for everything they could have a question for
  • Investing in a great onboarding experience so they know what to expect of you and your space
  • Connecting them to the workplace resources, amenities, and services they need through the right tools
  • Making sure they feel comfortable and at-home in the coworking space

We highly recommend investing in a great onboarding experience. The more information you provide members with in the beginning, the more comfortable they’ll feel in the space. A great onboarding experience means:

  • Introducing yourself!
  • Providing a tour of the space
  • Getting them acquainted and set up with the technology they’ll be using
  • Having them populate their in-app profile and introduce themselves to the community
  • Pairing them with other members in your community (maybe 1 or 2 to start) that you think they have some common interests with
  • Giving them an opportunity to give feedback after their first month on their experience in your space so far

Onboarding is also a great time to insert that signature human touch into the coworking experience. Use it as an opportunity to develop meaningful connections with your members and really get to know them on a personal level.

Creating an autonomous space

Building autonomy into your space is made possible with the help of some powerful tools and technology systems.

Use this information as a guide to help you through how to begin automating your coworking space.

Step 1: Think about the tasks in your space that can be automated

The first step is to think about what processes you do that can be automated. You’re looking for tasks that require little higher-order thinking. Some questions to ask yourself are:

  • Is it taking away from what I really want to be doing?
  • Do I do it frequently?
  • Is it repetitive?
  • Is it inexpensive to automate?

If the answer to the above questions is yes, then chances are you can automate it.

The tasks that we see benefit the most from automation are:

  • Checking-in and booking spaces or products (i.e. podcast equipment)
  • Invoicing
  • Accessing the space or rooms within your space
  • Purchasing products
  • Ongoing communication with members

Think about what in your space can be automated, and then decide on which you will tackle now and which you will address later down the road as your space grows.

Step 2: Build a technology ecosystem

Once you decide on which tasks to automate, you can begin to look for technology that will enable you to do so.

In order to have a fully autonomous coworking space, you’ll want a full tech ecosystem. This includes:

  • Coworking management software
  • Door access control
  • Accounting software
  • Security system
  • WiFi access
  • Payment gateway
  • Electronic document signing
  • CRM system

It can be helpful to map out the entire journey that a member takes when members sign up for your space. Think about the tasks they complete as they go through the process.

Then, map these tasks on to the appropriate pieces of technology.

When choosing your tech stack, you’ll also want to make sure you’ve set up your space to be mobile-first. The world is moving towards a mobile-first world. You want to ensure your tech stack is well supported and able to be accessed across a wide variety of mobile devices.

Step 3: Integrate your tools with one another

After you have all of your tools in place, you’ll need to make sure they are integrated.

Integration is what brings the entire ecosystem together. It’s not about having a singular, all-in-one platform. Rather it is about having the best tools across all departments, and then bringing them together in a seamless way.

Spend some time integrating your tools and making sure they can all speak to each other properly before committing to a 100% automated coworking space.

Step 4: Consider what other areas of your space you can automate outside of the day-to-day operations

Perhaps there are other parts of running your business that can benefit from automation that don’t require dedicated tech and tools.

We often see people subscribing to recurring housekeeping purchases on Amazon (toilet paper, pens, etc.) so that they don’t have to worry about manually buying them on a regular basis.

There may be other aspects of your business you can automate over time. Talk to your community manager to get a sense of how they’re spending their time and what can benefit from the use of technology.

Step 5: Get your employees involved

Have employees support the automation processes (troubleshooting), while focusing their time and energy on building the community and enhancing the member experience with a personal touch.

This could mean:

  • Meeting with all new members one-on-one for a 90-day check-in
  • Providing personalized tours for prospective or new members
  • Planning member events that your community will enjoy
  • Making yourself available for any of your members needs virtually

Automation is an important aspect of running a profitable coworking space. However, it’s important to not forget about developing deep connections with your members.

Going above and beyond with the hospitality services you provide will help you truly elevate your coworking user experience. It’s what separates a space from a community.

Interested in transforming your space into an automated machine? Learn how to get started with automating your space with Optix.

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