The 7 Habits of Highly Successful Co-working Clubs
I love working with co-working spaces – it gives me the opportunity to combine my passion for entrepreneurship and start-ups with my day job of running a PropTech company.
Hanging around in this environment is addictive – and when you’ve worked in property for as long as I have, you know a game-changing trend when you see one.
At Welcome Gate we have been involved with co-working spaces for over five years, and it’s refreshing that even a boring old sector like property, can innovate in a way that focusses for the first time on the customer (aka tenants).
You may wonder what a company selling security systems knows about co-working. Well, if we were a normal security firm, we wouldn’t know very much.
But Welcome Gate isn’t normal, in the same way that the co-working operators we serve are equally not normal. Our experience providing security solutions to over 42 different spaces has given us a unique insight into how different co-working businesses operate.
What’s interesting is that each and every operator we serve is unique with a different target market, a different ethos, and a different culture.
However, the successful ones all share some things in common.
Absolute clarity: their core purpose defines everything they do.
- Where they are located
- Who they hire to join their team
- How much space to provide
- Design and layout
What’s probably most important is that everyone on their team is on the same page and understands this core purpose.
If you’re a co-working space, it’s easy to regard everyone as a potential tenant or member. However, the best operators have a very clearly defined niche, in line with their core purpose.
It’s also easy to make attempts to serve the wider needs of many different target markets, but what you end up with is a mess that doesn’t serve anyone well.
Whether it is FinTech, Fashion or PropTech, it’s useful to know who you are targeting so you can curate an offering around their needs
It allows those who wish to support and engage with your members to actively seek you out for mutual benefit. E.g. financiers and professional advisors
Curating the Community is the next most important thing – designing a strong community is critical to the success of each Club.
Great co-working operators are not only judged by who they accept as members, but also who they reject, and I have a lot of respect for those who are prepared to say “no” to potential tenants.
4. Community Managers
These are the people who make it all happen. In addition to keeping the premises running in tip top shape, these modern day “office managers” do so much more.
The best ones I have seen do a great job engaging their members on a business and personal level. The best know quite a lot about the members’ businesses and what they need.
CM’s are both socially aware and natural connectors, helping members help each other by acting as the link, the match-maker.
In all the successful co-working environments, the CM is the heart and head of the operation and all are “bought” into the vision, values and ethos of their organisation.
It is the CM’s responsibility to engage their whole community. The best ones realise that it’s a continual process. As nice as it is to provide personal attention to each and every member, the “black-belt” CMs have realised that leverage and scale is also important.
Time that is spent curating a programme of events that combine learning, socialising and networking is one of the biggest value-adds a co-working space offers.
Members don’t join for the space – you can sit anywhere. They don’t join for design, otherwise museums would be full of entrepreneurs – they join because they can tap into a relevant community that is perfectly suited to them – where everyone around them is in a similar space, speaking to similar people – possibility even looking to collaborate directly with other members.
So what a CM does to engage their Members is a real core part of their offering.
In the early stages of this sector it was quite common for operators to take short “fag-end” leases or use spaces that were harder to let. Both of these scenarios forced the operator’s design teams to be smart with how to best utilise the space whilst keeping in mind the time they had on the lease.
The attention to detail in the design of a co-working space is not just there for “curb appeal”. Yes, first impressions and a real “W-O-W” factor is really important – people want to be proud of where they work and they want to show off to their visitors, staff, investors and clients.
At the early stages, the designer is one of the most important members of the team; those that work closely with the leadership team and have bought into the core values, vision and purpose of the operator have always produced a far better result.
Sure, any old designer or architect can use bright colours, glass partitions and funky lamp shades, but the best ones go beyond that. They have a natural instinct for how spaces are used, how to bring people together, whilst also acknowledging the regulatory requirements of these spaces.
As co-working was originally built to serve the tech sector, it is no surprise that co-working technology has evolved at an equal pace.
Originally operators would have a range of separate systems, membership, billing, room booking, and access control (security).
Nowadays, the technology is seamless, allowing your customers to, for example, book a room or invite a visitor – and you can invoice them, or in the worst case, revoke their security – all with a single click.
And our security systems can take it even further, and be used to attract new customers. The way it works is that our system accesses the prospect list and invites potential customers to have temporary access. When they try out the space, the local community manager is automatically alerted so they can say hello and answer any questions.
Co-working is a game-changer. It’s exciting, dynamic and rapidly developing, with some of the most innovative entrepreneurs around, creating the inspiring spaces where business can start scale.
At Welcome Gate, we’re delighted to be part of the adventure.
The Welcome Gate team have unrivalled knowledge and experience in fitting co-working spaces with security that completely tailors to the individual needs of our clients. To contact us, phone 020 7620 6288 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.