Staffing Your Coworking Space When You Scale
Businesses often struggle during transition periods like upsizing. There’s always more to worry about – operating costs, attracting new customers, keeping old ones and the list goes on. Mosre importantly, how can you ensure that the culture of your business is not compromised? Hiring the right staff is key to maintaining and cultivating culture as you scale. Beyond the physical structures of the workspace, your coworking space staff give the space its identity when they interact with clients of the space and ensure their needs are satisfied.
How to staff as you scale your business
How many new staff you need depends on the size of your venue and what you are offering or planning to offer. There is no single answer to this. Wilmott from IQ office suites tried to develop a staffing model that included a part-time Director of First Impressions, a Director of Operations, and a General Manager. Often, each new location requires a good community manager. This person should be the embodiment of the vibe of the place. They need not have experience working with coworking spaces.
However, they should be people-oriented, hospitable, possess a strong work ethic and willing and happy to fight tooth and nail to satisfy clients’ needs. Besides posting a job advert online, another good way to find good candidates is by asking current coworking space staff if they know any like-minded individuals who fit the job description. This also ensures that the community manager is someone the current staff can work with.
Once hired, you may consider allowing community managers to work like franchise owners and make semi-executive decisions about the space. This autonomy could allow each space to function more effectively and provide coworking space staff with an increased sense of ownership and commitment.
As coworking spaces have low economies of scale, scaling your coworking space would require spending twice on rent and twice on manpower. One way to cut down costs is to automate processes. There are many ways to automate, some include letting new clients register themselves, book meeting rooms and even check their monthly payments.
Your team should then be able to remotely lock and unlock rooms, for instance. Automation could cut down coworking space staff by half in the long run, increasing profit margins.
Key Considerations when Staffing
As mentioned, coworking spaces are not as scalable in terms of staff and operating costs. When revenue is doubled, cost is also doubled, making profits stagnant. One way to get around this is to automate some processes. However, building an application requires a high capital outlay as well. So be prepared when choosing between the alternatives.
While new locations may operate independently of each other, a single direction should be established to ensure that every new space is in line with the overarching philosophy. Regional managers and some shared corporate positions could be helpful for this. Regional managers could oversee a few spaces and understand the profiles of each one, to recommend the most suitable ones to new clients as they come along. Corporate level positions offer more bang for the buck when roles like marketing consultants and legal counsels are shared between coworking spaces.
Should your spaces operate like independent franchises, make sure to set up communication channels lest these spaces get too competitive. Community managers should be aware of what other spaces are doing and be committed to realising a common goal. Likewise, employees should also be kept in the loop lest they feel estranged. Regular meetings using Zoom or platforms like Slack can help ease the communication barrier. Employees who are aware of the company’s overall direction tend to make better decisions as they understand the underlying reasons for actions.
There is no hard and fast rule for hiring staff as you scale your coworking space. The bottom line is a fine balance between your bottom line and maintaining and nurturing the vibe and culture of your original business.