Coworking has seen a huge boom in popularity, with the industry projected to grow by more than 40% this year. Many coworking spaces have found unique ways to bring in their members. However, just because coworking is on the rise, doesn’t mean that coworking spaces are immune to mistakes. Here are some common traps that many spaces fall into in an effort to hang on to the fast-paced industry and why coworking spaces fail:
One of the best problems for companies to have is to outgrow the space they are in. Shared spaces are a great stepping stone for companies who are just starting out and are still growing. Many companies hope to use a coworking for the first few months or years of existence and then outgrow the flexible office in favor of a more permanent space. As a coworking owner, this turnover is an implied risk you have to take, but since the job market is so flexible, more members should be ready to fill the space. The mistake that a lot of coworking spaces make is in not adjusting to the quick member turnover.
Sometimes it’s too easy to stay focused on strengthening the community and deepening relationships with your members. After all, that is the fun part of coworking! However, every manager should pay just as much attention to catching new leads for when those precious members leave for their own greener pastures. It’s essential to remember that a coworking space is still a business, and that to maintain healthy revenue the manager should always look ahead to the next sale.
Another common issue with coworking spaces is not seeking out customer feedback. Your members want to grow with your company. To do this they require basic needs like fast and reliable internet, phone/privacy booths that are soundproof, conference rooms, private offices, and a staff that can meet the needs of your members. If you don’t invest your money in the things that matter, and instead go for flashy things that you think will sell, it quickly becomes obvious to your members.
Ultimately, it comes down to listening to the wants and needs of your members. If something about the facility bothers them, and it is within your control to fix it, fix it! For example, if your members complain about dirty bathrooms and workspaces, consider hiring a janitor. If your printer or internet continually has problems, fix it or consider investing in different technology. Regardless of whether or not the issue is big or small, not fixing some of the problems that your members continually complain about will ensure they find a new place to do their business.
Among the top coworking space challenges is how easy it is to be distracted by popular industry trends. Many coworking spaces might make the mistake of trying to be trendy or cool to attract members, however this is usually at the expense of productivity. For example, spending money on a popcorn machine or artsy furniture that actually isn’t comfortable to sit on might be hurting your member’s productivity, prompting causing them to find a new workplace. While they might be interesting and make for a great social media post, too many unnecessary purchases that aren’t actually increasing productivity or adding value to the members’ businesses are probably hurting the space. Some more practical things you might want to market your coworking space with is a child-friendly space, a wellness center, or a 3-D printer.
A coworking space has a limited amount of desk and private offices that are able to be rented out. This means a limited amount of revenue per square foot. Because of this, it’s paramount to monitor and secure every inch of your space. Every inch of space that isn’t monetized, and every person who enters who’s not paying a membership is lost money. In a smaller or even mid-sized space, it might not be financially possible to have someone at the front desk monitoring who enters into space. One way to keep freeloaders out and ensure that your members are receiving an exclusive service is by investing in a cloud access control system. Many systems will give your members keyless access to the coworking space, helping to save you money by not having to employ someone at the front desk 24/7, but still giving your members access to the coworking space whenever they want.
With the popularity of coworking, there are tons of opportunities for new spaces. However, if, as a coworking owner or manager, you aren’t taking the time to listen to what the community wants or needs, or spend money or on things that don’t add value to your business, you might find that your membership rates will start to decrease. By listening, spending your money wisely in comfortable furniture, fast internet, and access control, your coworking space is more likely to be successful.