Everything you need to know about Expanding Coworking Space Industry

Expanding your coworking business? Choose your second location wisely, as it will strongly affect your working and personal routine. Everything you need to know about expanding your coworking space. Learn how to stay on top of multi-site management from some of the brightest minds in the coworking industry. Get the first-hand growth tips from industry experts in this article.

Everything you need to know about Expanding Coworking Space Industry
Everything you need to know about Expanding Coworking Space Industry

Content Summary

Introduction
Options for Expansion
Expanding within your current location
Relocating to a new building
Expanding with a second coworking space
Analyzing Your Business
Know your numbers
Analyze your processes
Get a clear definition of who you are as a brand
Analyzing Your Local Business Environment
Investigate locally
Reach out to third parties
Research your competitors
Define the role your coworking space plays in the community
Preparing for Opening
Designing conference rooms for your coworking space
Hiring and building teams
Promotional efforts
Setting up systems
Conclusion

Identify the challenges inherent in running a multi-site business and learn how to address them accordingly.

The idea of scaling your business with a second coworking space is very exciting, but it probably comes with plenty of questions, concerns, and doubts.

The following guide to scaling a coworking business is a product of our observations, additional research, and focused interviews with industry experts and clients of ours who have gone through such growth first-hand.

We’ve covered the expansion process from the initial evaluation of your current business, through the analysis of the local business environment, to the preparation for launch.

With this article, you’ll learn:

  • What are the most popular options for expansion
  • How to validate whether you have the physical, operational, financial, or other necessary capacities to expand
  • How to investigate the local market and business environment and validate if it’s feasible to open a new location
  • How to design your meeting rooms according to your audience’s needs
  • How to hire and build successful teams that will support your expansion
  • What promotional efforts might come in handy to fill up your new site/location
  • Which are the essential systems that you need to set up prior to launch

Introduction

The idea of scaling your business with an additional location is very exciting, but it probably comes with plenty of questions, concerns, and doubts.

You’ve probably learned a lot from running your coworking business. If you’ve succeeded in doing so, the rich and valuable experience you’ve acquired on this journey has already formed into your distinct competitive advantage, an advantage which will play a key role in helping you push through the next ceiling, if you choose to do so.

And if you’ve made that choice, then you’re in the right place—the purpose of this eBook is to identify the challenges inherent in running a multi-site business, focusing on some specific things you should have in mind when opening an additional location.

The content in this eBook focuses on expanding with a second coworking location, but most of the tips are applicable for any kind of expansion and will help you to deal with the challenges that come along with growth.

Those challenges touch upon many aspects of your business— marketing, sales, operations, hiring, management, you name it.

From working with hundreds of coworking and flexible spaces around the world, supporting them on their way to growth and expansion, we’ve had the opportunity to talk to a lot of successful operators about how their businesses can scale.

The following guide to scaling a coworking business is a product of our observations, additional research, and focused interviews with industry experts and clients of ours who have gone through such growth first-hand.

Of course, general advice wouldn’t cut it here. We know that every coworking space is different, and growth challenges would be specific to each space.

Our goal is not to tell you exactly what to do, nor to give you the universal recipe for success or cover the process in all its micro steps and details.

Our goal is to give you direction and highlight some of the essentials that you should consider.

With that in mind, we hope this guide will help you nail down a huge part of the expansion process and get a better and clearer idea on how to approach it.

We’ve covered the expansion process from the initial evaluation of your current business, through the analysis of the local business environment, to the preparation for launch.

We’ve intentionally excluded the process of negotiation with landlords, because it’s a huge and complex topic that deserves a separate eBook on its own.

With that said, this article is divided into four main chapters:

  • Options for Expansion: Poses the question of if opening a second space is the only way to expand or if you might have better options.
  • Analyzing Your Business: Stresses the importance of making an evaluation of your business and highlights the most important key metrics to look at.
  • Analyzing Your Local Business Environment: Helps you understand how favorable the local business environment is and analyze the demand.
  • Preparing for Opening: Highlights the most important operational, marketing and sales steps you should go through to prepare for a strong launch of your next location.

Options for Expansion

Before you start thinking about expanding with an additional physical site, it’s worth considering all your options and deciding which is the best in your case.

Two other popular alternatives are:

  1. Expanding within your current location
  2. Moving your entire space to another, bigger building

Those options come along with their own pros and cons, and they might not be possible in your case. But let’s take a look at each so you can decide for yourself.

Expanding within your current location

Can your landlord offer you another floor?

Expanding within your current location often comes out to be cheaper and easier. Of course, that option might not always be possible—it depends on the building, your contract, expansion plans, etc.

But if it is, you won’t have to go through the whole process of looking for a new building, negotiating with landlords, and starting the whole fit-out from scratch.

You won’t need to look after an additional building asset and constantly travel between locations.

You’ll probably have to expand your team with a person or two depending on the size of the area you’ll add to your current space and the workload that comes with it, but in most cases, this won’t lead to many more operational challenges.

Another benefit of this option is that you already know how your business functions in the area you’re located in and what the demand is there.

It would also be beneficial for your members whose companies grow and need more space— they won’t face the need to move to another location, because you’ll be able to provide them with a bigger office in the current building.

You’ll also continue working with the same suppliers, so you won’t need to spend time looking for new ones or signing new contracts.

One of the cons of this option compared to the others is that you won’t be able to tap into the demand of a new area/region. Unless you invest considerable efforts in improving your marketing approach or the space itself, you’ll have the same amount of inquiries.

Relocating to a new building

This might be an option if the current building doesn’t meet your needs anymore.

This might often be the case if you’ve grown so much that, on top of more space, you also need a better building to improve your offering.

“Usually, the design of the building is limiting, and that’s a reason why people want to leave – whether it’s size, or they cannot build on more offices, or it’s not conducive to scale.” – Sarah Fustine, Partner, Operations and Strategic Partnerships at Think Big Partners

Other reasons that might make you consider moving to another location include unfavorable lease terms, a bad relationship with your landlord, or insufficient demand in the area.

Whatever the reason might be, if your current building doesn’t suit your needs anymore, maybe it’s time to consider moving somewhere else.

A word of caution though: moving is a very dynamic process and requires huge effort, because you need to move not just your entire memberbase but also all of your processes and assets.

You’ll also need to coordinate the whole process with your community, because your members will need to plan for the move.

Everything is connected. For instance, if the construction is delayed, this will affect not only your plans but your members and their business as well.

You might lose some of them when you move— whether it is because the new location increases their commute time, because they just don’t like it, or because of the inconvenience that comes with moving.

That’s normal, and as long as such member churn remains within a reasonable range, you shouldn’t worry about it. Of course, it’s always good to talk to your members, understand their motives and learn from their feedback.

On the bright side, relocating to a new location offers plenty of benefits, including a chance to “start again” with any design or layout issues you had in your previous space. It will allow you to greatly improve your coworking product by choosing a location that better suits the needs of your coworking community and your business.

Expanding with a second coworking space

So what is the real reason why you would want to expand to a second space? After all, expanding to an additional physical site comes with plenty of multi-site management challenges and more risk.

WRITTEN BY SARAH FUSTINE
”A second location, and any additional locations beyond that, start to offer your members more benefits and your business good potential growth. If you have an appetite for scaling the business long-term, are willing to take more risk for more reward or desire to build a path to exit via acquisition, then opening multiple locations is going to be a good move.

First, probably the number one reason is the opportunity to tap into the demand of another neighborhood, city or region. More unfilled demand means more members which leads to more revenue and buying power. More buying power leads to better partnerships/sponsorships for your space and more benefits and amenities for your members. If you decide to offer a networktype membership where members can bounce around, that is a very attractive offering that a majority of boutique coworking spaces can’t offer.

Another consideration is if you have additional business functions that may require different types of space (white lab, messy maker space, commercial kitchen, industry-specific amenities, accelerator/incubator program, etc.) then that is also reason why you might decide to expand to additional locations.

You could also view your additional locations as test beds for new expansion of services to be later rolled out network wide, or to test a different design and feel of your space (which you should align with the hyperlocal market of the location).

After reading this far, if you’ve come to the conclusion that a second location sounds like the best choice for your business, it’s time to start taking the next steps. This eBook was created to help you do just that.

Analyzing Your Business

Before you say yes to growth, it’s worth analyzing if you’re actually ready to grow.

We know that might sound a bit unmotivating, but it’s essential to go through it because, at the end of the day, success doesn’t come just with the goodwill to scale. It comes when you actually have the physical, operational, financial, business, and other necessary capacity to do so.

That’s why going through an internal analysis is essential. Below, we’ve listed the main key performance indicators (KPIs) that are worth considering.

Additional Note: KPIs should be tracked for at least six months, ideally for a year. But if they haven’t been tracked for long enough yet and you can’t afford to wait, just try to get as much information as possible and make conclusions based on it.

Know your numbers

“Know your numbers. If you’re not already measuring important and relevant KPIs, you can’t even think about scaling.” – Sarah Fustine, Partner, Operations and Strategic Partnerships at Think Big Partners

The first step of the internal analysis is to examine how your business is currently performing. What are the important KPIs, and how do you measure them? What do they mean and what conclusions can you draw from them?

And with Coworking and Flexible Workspaces, you have to look at metrics across a few different aspects, including standard business metrics (Marketing, Sales, Finance), typical Real Estate KPIs, and the performance of your facilities.

Each of those categories has a ton of metrics that make sense and can be tracked. But for the sake of simplicity, we’ll try to list only the “most important” ones, which, if tracked and considered, can help you mitigate the risks associated with growth.

Marketing and Sales

New Prospects
You don’t need to have seen a dramatic increase in inquiries, but you should look for steady growth. Also, a decrease in inquiries would be a bad sign. Spend some time understanding the quality of inquiries from all possible sources—e.g. from the phone, the web, your lead generation tools, referrals, email, etc.

Tour to member conversion
You can get additional insights from tracking how many of those inquiries are converting to customers. A few questions to ask that might help you uncover more insight into this metric (and the one above) are: What is the typical type of member/company that comes in for a tour? Do different “types” of member convert better than others?

While there isn’t a specific rate that could be considered “the magic number,” because it really depends on your business, how much effort you’re putting into marketing, your sales process, etc., apply some common sense to your analysis (for example, a 25%+ conversion rate would be very high, while a 5% conversion rate is pretty low).

However, by taking a deeper look into both metrics above, you’ll still be able to notice the trends and see if that ratio is stable, or if it’s going up or down. A stable upwards trend will allow you to have more accurate forecasting of demand.

Finance

Monthly Recurring Revenue
Here it makes sense not only to measure the income your business is generating, but also to have in mind how much each of your products contribute to your MRR (i.e. Private Offices, Dedicated Desks, Flex Desks and club memberships), and what the average length of stay is for customers who have purchased each of those products.

Cash/Revenue Occupancy
You can look at occupancy in two ways— on the one hand, you have “inventory occupancy,” which is what part of your space is physically full (see paragraph below for more info on this), and on the other, you have “revenue occupancy,” which is what revenue actually comes from that occupancy. It’s important to track Revenue Occupancy to understand how much money you’re losing because of the discounts you’re offering.

”You might have your private offices full (100% office inventory occupancy), but if you compare that to your dollar occupancy, you might encounter that you might be capturing 80% occupancy revenue wise.” – Sarah Fustine, Partner, Operations and Strategic Partnerships at Think Big Partners

Profitability
Regardless of whether you’re bootstrapping your growth or relying on investment, you always need to know how much you are getting out of your business and when you expect to break even and start generating profits (which is often the case with investors).

Real Estate

Occupancy Rate
Occupancy is one of the most essential KPIs you should measure. Being consistently at 90% and above indicates strong demand. If you see strong demand with high occupancy of your inventory, or you see there are a lot of inquiries that are not able to be met because your inventory is not sufficient, those would be key indicators that say you’re ready to scale.

Income per SQ Meter/Foot
Your biggest cost is tied directly to how much “space” you’re leasing, so you should be tracking what you’re getting out of it as well. If you’re making too little money per sq foot, maybe you need to take out some meeting rooms (cut on the common areas).

Meeting Rooms Utilization
Meeting rooms are not only a necessity that solves a need of your members, but can also be a significant revenue stream and tool to attract fresh traffic to your space. To be able to make educated decisions toward improving those goals, you need to know how much your meeting rooms are being used, which ones perform the best, and what their peak hours are.

Analyze your processes

Besides your business performance, there’s a set of operational aspects you should look at.

What processes/procedures do you currently have and how many of those can be automated? Are they scalable? Would you need to establish new ones?

With a single location, you probably haven’t invested much in creating and documenting processes, because there’s not really a crucial need to do so.

But with a second location, the workload gets bigger and more diverse, and setting processes might save you a lot of time and effort in the long term.

It will also allow you to establish consistency in the way you deliver your service and easily pass that knowledge on to new team members.

However, you shouldn’t overcomplicate that step and create a process for every single thing in your coworking space. Back to Contents

“Everybody defines processes a little differently. Some people would only want to invest in minimum processes because as entrepreneurs, they know that as soon as you build one process, it gets torn out and you have to start over and create a new one.” – Sarah Fustine, Partner, Operations and Strategic Partnerships at Think Big Partners

Isolating the areas that really need established procedures and focusing your efforts on them is key. Here are our top picks:

Sales

Having clear procedures about how you approach inquiries and what steps you go through with a potential client might save you a lot of time and effort. Moreover, having that written down will allow you to easily train staff.

With more than one location, it’s key to have more than one person who knows how to respond to inquiries and sell.

This will also help analyze parts of the sales process that can be improved and dramatically increase your chances of converting inquiries to customers.

Onboarding

If you don’t have an established process, it might become a huge time suck.

Everything from how you welcome your new members, to how you communicate with them, to what documentation you share with them (and when) should be structured.

Make a check-list of all tasks that need to be done once a new member joins your community. Do you have any special rituals for new members? What are the important things you need to provide them with at the very beginning (e.g. access badge, wifi access, printing instructions, etc.)? Do they know where they can find you and what channels to use to reach out to you when they need help or have a question?

Try to break down the way you’re currently operating into details, and write it all down in a document. Maybe you can create some kind of a script and share it with your team so everyone can be on the same page.

This will make it easy to replicate the practice in your second space and train other team members faster and more efficiently, and will also provide consistency in the service your community receives.

Communication

This includes plenty of things, from the tone you use (is it formal, is it friendly, is it specific for your type of community?), to what communication channels you use, to how you proceed in specific situations (e.g. an inquiry or an issue).

The more your member base grows, the more you’ll face the need to be consistent and have clearly predefined steps or communication patterns to follow in particular situations.

This might be a script you follow during the onboarding process, a style guide about your email correspondence, a predefined time frame for your response to inquiries, or similar.

Opening and Closing Duties

The everyday routine is something that might look easy and simple, but in order to provide a consistent experience to your members and also make it easier for you, setting up a process will help.

Things like when you turn the music on, check the mail, or clean the desks, and procedures you follow before you close, are essential. It’s those little things that, if done properly and with consistency, will instill the perception of exceptional customer service in your members.

Get a clear definition of who you are as a brand

Answering questions like who you are as a brand, what your long-term vision is, and what kind of audience you want to go after will help you nail the direction you want to take with your second space.

Know what makes you different. It is not enough that you exist—you need to know your unique selling proposition. Is it your location? Is it the type of professionals that are part of your community? Is it an additional service like business consulting that you provide?

“If you manage to answer those questions in the very beginning, you’ll avoid a lot of problems further down the road of expansion.” – Jeannine van der Linden, Founder of de Kamer and Director of European Coworking Assembly

Not that you shouldn’t have an answer to those questions with your first location. But once you start expanding, it becomes even more necessary to have a clear definition of who you are.

The brand experience is one of your most important differentiators, so you’d like to know what’s unique about your brand and how to be consistent in that with all your locations.

It might cover plenty of things, including:

  • What companies do you want to attract? Are you focused on tech startups or social entrepreneurs, or digital nomads?
  • What should be the vibe and environment your members experience when they walk in? Is it tech, or modern, or funky, or artistic?
  • How do you treat your members and visitors? Is there anything specific in your communication approach?
  • What’s the building like? Is there anything specific about the property itself (e.g. a brick wall, a terrace with a view, etc), that has become unique for your brand and associated with it?

Being able to identify what’s unique about your space and your audience, about the vibe and experience you offer, and if you want to replicate it with your second location or you want to change it, will point you in the direction you should take with your second space.

Bonus tips from Jeannine Van Der Linden: Your community holds a lot of intelligence about the way your first coworking space functions and can give you plenty of insights on how to approach your second location. It’s worth it talking to your members and asking them what’s going well and what’s not, what do they like about your space, what would they improve.

Analyzing Your Local Business Environment

When you start thinking about opening a second location, you’ll probably have a general idea of where you’d like it to be.

Choosing a location and building your space based on existing demand will always be a better option than finding a piece of real estate that seems suitable for a coworking space and eventually trying to fill it up.

That’s why investigating the local market and business environment matters. It will help you find out how favorable the market in that region is and establish connections with local communities prior to launching your space.

Below, we’ve drafted some ideas on how to approach such a feasibility study. Depending on the time and resources you have at your disposal (you still have to run your existing business, after all), you can approach such an analysis in a number of different ways.

The rule of thumb here, as with any other strategic exercise, is the more time you spend on it the better, so you can mitigate the risk of opening your site and having a hard time filling it in.

It’s also always an option to outsource this analysis to consulting experts like our partners at Think Big and pay for experience that always pays out in the long-run. But again, it all comes to the time and resources you have at your disposal.

Bonus tips from Sarah Fustine: When choosing a location, have in mind what kind of work and lifestyle you want to have because especially in the beginning you’ll have to travel a lot between the two locations which will strongly affect your personal and working routine.

Investigate locally

You can start by spending time investigating the region(s) you find appealing for your second coworking space and finding out what the business environment is like. You’d like to explore what type of people are working there, what businesses are there, and how strong the demand is.

Visiting local coffee shops, restaurants, or other public places and talking to the people there is a great way to gain knowledge about the people in this region and the work they do. Buy someone a coffee and chat with them.

Reach out to local coworking communities and try to find out what their needs are, what they struggle with, and how you can be of value to them.

If you see that there’s no unsatisfied need there or no unmet demand, that might not be your place. You have to make sure your next location is in a market that has enough demand for an additional coworking space.

If you’re able to go into detail about the workstyle of the people you talk to, go ahead. Do they make a lot of phone calls daily? Do they often meet with clients? Do they code all day, or make presentations?

Talk with them about their current commute time or work routine. If you can significantly reduce their commute time, or make their life easier in another way, that might be a reason for them to move to your coworking space.

On top of collecting valuable information, talking to people will allow you to establish contacts, and spread the word about the upcoming opening of your second location. Some of those people might become your members, and others might help you with your business.

*Have in mind that to get a better picture of the local business environment, you should visit those places mainly during business hours.

Reach out to third parties

Look at third party data sources as well.

You can reach out to the local economic development organizations, Bureau of Labor Statistics, US Census, or Chamber of Commerce (or any similar institutions typical for your country/ city) to get valuable information such as the size of the workforce in the region, top industries, top employers, household income, and more—it will help you determine the types of professionals that are working there.

Try to engage those institutions and see how they might help you, whether it’s with statistics, or by making introductions, or with any kind of consultation.

Reach out to local businesses, networking groups, and entrepreneur communities/events as well. It’s a great opportunity to establish connections and learn more about the local environment.

Research your competitors

“Many people fear competitors, but having competitors is actually a good sign.” – Sarah Fustine, Partner, Operations and Strategic Partnerships at Think Big Partners

If you have no competitors in the area you’re planning to open, that should be a red flag and make you ask yourself why that is the case.

Is it because it’s just a small area and there’s no developed market yet? Or is it because the market isn’t providing good opportunities and everyone else has realized that?

Whatever the reason might be, you have to be extra cautious if you don’t have any competitors where you’re planning to open.

If you have competitors in the region, try to learn more about them. What do they offer, what audience do they target, what are their price ranges?

Try to find as much information as possible and see if they’re willing to talk to you.

In general, the coworking industry is pretty much welcoming to sharing insights and supporting the growth of the industry as a whole, but not everyone will be that way.

Most people will be sensitive about giving exact price numbers, but if you can get a sense of a range, that will be more than enough.

You might even consider sharing the information with your competitors once you aggregate it. If you engage them with your research and let them know you’d be happy to share it with them, so they have that insight as well, they will be more willing to support it.

Define the role your coworking space plays in the community

In terms of demand, you should have gathered valuable insights from your feasibility study. Are people in this particular region in need of more offices or hotdesks? Do they need big conference rooms or more phone booths?

Every successful coworking space has a role that plays in the local business environment—it might be to empower startups, support local entrepreneurs, or be socially responsible.

“What is the main business based role your space will play? If you don’t know the answer, you’re not thinking big enough because you’re only thinking about yourself. You’ll be negatively impacted when you think in a silo. Regardless of how small or big you are, you have to play a role in the community.” – Sarah Fustine, Partner, Operations and Strategic Partnerships at Think Big Partners

Best-case scenario, you’ve figured that out with your first location, but in all cases, stressing that enough with your second one is essential.

Once you find out what your role is, you’ll be able to make much more educated decisions about the way you operate and position yourself in the market.

Preparing for Opening

Once you’ve made up your mind on the location and have signed the lease, it’s time to start working on setting up your space for the launch and finding and signing your first members.

You’ve gained a lot of experience from opening your first location, and you know plenty of the steps. However, it’s very likely that you didn’t actually have a procedure back then and you did all those things on the run.

Aggregating all this knowledge and structuring it, and establishing a process, has plenty of benefits, including:

  • Saves you a lot of time and effort
  • Might save you some expenses as well
  • Allows you to delegate tasks to other people easily
  • Reduces stress during the process of preparation for the launch

We know that planning the ratio between open space, offices and meeting rooms is the very first step of the preparation process. We won’t dive into that topic, though, as it’s a complex matter and deserves a separate content piece on its own.

However, we’ll touch upon four main steps that follow once you’re done with the planning stage:

  • Designing your meeting rooms
  • Hiring and building teams
  • Promotional efforts
  • Setting up systems

Designing conference rooms for your coworking space

Building the space in your image gives you the opportunity to uniquely showcase your brand vibe to guests. This is the feeling and essence of your space, and significant care and thought should be put into designing it. The same four white walls and windowless office, that have worked in commercial real estate for the past forty years are no longer viable nor attractive to your potential guest. Be creative, be different, and make your mark.

Word for word, we’ve copied our good friend and now colleague Michael Everts in the paragraph above. His thoughts on how you should approach the design of your space ring true, but since the subject itself is vast, we’ll have to make due with that.

What we’d like to focus on here though, is something more specific that we hope will offer practical advice on a never-ending topic and pain of all operators we’ve spoken with—how do we make the most out of our meeting rooms?

This whole chapter comes with courtesy of Mike and is focused on how to best plan and design the meeting/conference rooms in your coworking space.

WRITTEN BY MICHAEL EVERTS
Traditionally, the conference room has been a large square table, surrounded by chairs and a whiteboard, with a bulky television in the corner. These rooms were typically built and used by one company and were very rarely changed. In coworking spaces today, conference rooms must be more agile and flexible to support working environments in which physical barriers have been eroded by the internet, causing more time spent in meetings than ever before.

The majority of meetings today have only two to three people. Smaller meetings lead to faster decision making, and with more and more employees working remotely, conference rooms have been shrinking in size. With many companies now working with an open floor plan, it is vital that they have the private space needed to brainstorm and collaborate.

Ultimately, a meeting room should have all the facilities and features required to make a meeting successful. This chapter will provide some ideas and suggestions so that you can make the most of your conference rooms for your business and your customers.

Variety of Environments
Today’s meeting rooms must be thoughtfully designed to accommodate a variety of meetings and scenarios. Coworkers users perform many different types of work—whether writing a proposal or on a sales call, they will need a variety of environments to do their work effectively. It is important that your coworking location gives these workers the correct physical space to do their best work. If you don’t have the workspace they need, they will simply find another location that does.

When designing your space, it’s important to keep in mind the core function of the meeting room. For example, аs average meeting sizes get smaller, informal, small “huddle rooms” that are meant to be used only for a brief time by a few people are becoming popular.

The furniture within the space plays a very important role and must be chosen carefully.

Simplicity
One of the most important things to think about when designing conference rooms for your space is usability for your members. You could have the most advanced and high-tech conference room in the city—but if it is difficult to turn on the TV and switch the inputs, it will not be used to its fullest potential. It is important that the technology you outfit your conference rooms with is easily usable by both guests and staff.

The more parts and pieces in your room design, the more potential points of failure. Remember: the more complicated a room is, the more time your staff will spend setting up and fixing issues for guests. Design your rooms to be simple, but impactful.

Wired Connections
The most important physical connections your conference room must support are HDMI and Mini Displayport. While having wireless display technology is convenient, a dedicated cable is the most reliable and will guarantee your guests can always share their screen.

TV’s will output in HDMI—so whether you are running a cable directly from your TV or from a nearby wall plate, it is important that you have dongles available for your guests. HDMI to Mini Displayport dongles are needed the most within a space, and will connect with most Macs and PCs. Newer computers are adopting USB C technology, so a HDMI to USB C dongle would be helpful as well. Many coworking spaces will label the dongles with their business name or bright colors, so they don’t run away in someone’s laptop bag by accident.

Wireless Connections
While wireless connections are not as reliable as wired connections, they are often more convenient.

For Apple customers, the Apple TV supports clients with Apple computers and iPhones. Other wireless screen-sharing technologies do exist, but many are not as reliable or require software to be downloaded.

Microsoft computers and many Android phones have standardized on the Miracast wireless display standard, though Miracast is not as reliable as Airplay today. Miracast dongles that stick into your TV can be purchased online.

Accessories
It is extremely important that there is signage in each room that directs guests on how to use the technology properly. Especially in rooms where setup is not obvious, the last thing you want for guests is to be frustrated and confused.

Aside from that, you might consider some kind of box or other containers for all your cables and remotes. Whiteboards are also an integral part of conference rooms, as some teams actually prefer these over displays for brainstorm sessions.

Other accessories that you could use in your space, depending on its type, could include conference phones (though most people use their cellphones), a USB webcam connection, and power outlets for charging laptops.

Screen VS. Projector
TV screens have become so affordable these days that outfitting conference rooms with large displays for content sharing is easier than ever before. A good rule of thumb when deciding on the size of display is to make your display the size of the width of the table in the room.

Projectors are also an option for displays, but they are more expensive, and they require more maintenance and expensive bulbs! Unless you have a very large space or a very large budget, a projector may not be the most cost-effective choice. At the same time, projectors can leave a lasting impression in a meeting space, so if you are going for a wow factor, projector might be the right route.

Room Reservation Technology
Your space should incorporate some sort of room reservation technology to schedule meeting rooms to prevent your coworking space manager from dealing with conflict between two businesses in the space who both thought they booked a room. Tablets that display upcoming bookings can be installed outside the rooms and powered through Power Over Ethernet (POE) cables.

Software such as OfficeRnD can help manage the backend process of this experience and make it much easier for hosts and guests to book and schedule rooms.

Attracting New Guests
If you have a great meeting room space, advertising with SEO may be a good option. However, the biggest key to converting meeting spaces to memberships is to make sure to treat guests like royalty and make them feel comfortable in your space. Showing your guests (and current members) that your spaces are valuable, both through what they offer and through the value you set on them with pricing, as well as showing guests that you have a variety of services to offer them, can convert them from one-time visitors into recurring members who love your space.

Hiring and building teams

Growing your team and ensuring effective internal communication is key to meet the increase in workload when scaling. Moreover, depending on your size and business model, you might have to open completely new positions as well.

A starting point is defining the roles to hire first for your second space.

Given the essence of multi-site management, it’s expected that you’ll be traveling across locations at the very beginning and you’ll deal with plenty of the site, operational and sales tasks in the new space. However, it’ll be impossible for you to be there all the time, so a person to help you with those will be a great role to hire first.

All the roles that follow next depend a lot on your business model, size and workload, but it’s very likely that you’ll need people to help you with memberships and administrative tasks, and eventually finance duties.

Considering the team growth, think of what processes need to be handled internally, and what could be outsourced, as the last might be a better option in some cases.

The Hiring Process
It’s essential to know how your hiring process goes—e.g. how many interviews you conduct, what types of questions you ask, what steps you follow, etc. This will save you a lot of time and effort and will help you be consistent in the hiring process.

Job Ad
Before you write your ad, start by writing a detailed job description. It might be dry and very businessoriented, but its goal is to give a clear representation of the job and its responsibilities. Once you have it, you can use it as a base for your job ad.

Besides being informative, the job ad has a marketing function—it has to make the candidate want the job. So don’t miss out on communicating your company culture and values, or anything that makes you an appealing employer.

Putting the salary range you’re ready to offer is recommendable, as it might be a waste of time for both parties to go through the whole process and eventually find out that you are not on the same page.

Interviews
The number of interviews depends on your brand, your culture, and the size of your team. However, it’s recommended to have at least a couple of interviews, because it will help both parties learn more about each other and find out if they are a good match.

Understanding if the candidate has done research on your company or industry will also help you gauge whether they’re a good fit. If they’ve invested efforts, it shows that they care, and are willing to take the initiative and want to learn more, which is always a good sign.

Having a trial day as a final stage of the interview process is a good step, as it allows you to see the person in action, and allows the candidate to get a better understanding of the job itself.

Moreover, some people might not be that good in the initial interview (because of being nervous, for example), but when they enter the space on their trial day, they just shine and convince you they’re the right person.

During a trial day, you might give the candidate various tasks to see how they’ll approach them and what their mindset is. It’s also a good opportunity to find out if you get along working together.

Skills to look for
Regardless of the role, administrative, communication and hospitality skills are needed. A good candidate would also be detail-oriented and software-savvy.

As for personality skills—people who are happy, curious, intuitive and diligent make a good fit for a role in a coworking space. Time-management and problem-solving skills are also wanted.

Operational roles require people who are big-picture thinkers with an eye for detail. They should also be highly organized, able to methodically perform tasks, while also possessing people skills.

Community people should be highly engaging. They should be warm and welcoming, but with the ability to set boundaries. They should be able to lead through inspiration and know how to communicate in both pleasant and uncomfortable situations.

Of course, it’s important to have crossover skills, so there’s always someone who knows how to run the space if someone else is sick or on vacation.

Extra Note from Iris Kavanagh
Be consistent in the questions you ask. Especially in the US, this is important legally-wise, because it gives equal chances to all candidates. On the other hand, asking the same questions is beneficial for you, because it allows you to make an accurate comparison between applicants.

Building Efficiently Performing Teams
Given the nature of a scaling business and a growing team, it would be beneficial for you to invest in developing an internal methodology. Here are some steps it’s good to follow:

  • Make sure your onboarding and HR processes are smooth. People should know when they get paid, what their schedule is, what additional benefits they receive, and how to apply for vacation.
  • Set accurate and clear expectations. Make sure expectations around who’s responsible to whom and for what are set and clearly defined, right from the beginning.
  • Have a regular review process. Evaluations will help you and your employees keep moving in the right direction. A good schedule for review check-ins is on every three to six months.
  • Document your processes. Have a guideline that determines what steps to follow in specific situations, who to ask for what, and which communication platform to use in which instance.
  • Ensure that everybody on the team is trained and you have consistency in that. Whether it’s a particular person who does all the training, or whether you’re just following the same training manual, make sure that everybody is given the exact same information.
  • Maintain regular communication with each member of the team. Whether it’s on a weekly or bi-weekly basis, a short 15-30 minute, one-on-one meetup will help you and your team perform better.

How can a coworking company look after its staff
We know how busy and hardworking the industry might be, so it’s essential to take care of your staff (and yourself, as well!). Ensuring a good working environment is crucial for the wellbeing of your team, and thus for boosting productivity, improving performance, and preventing churns and burnouts.

Not only do you need to provide a physically healthy working environment, but you also need to take care of the mental wellbeing of your staff and make them feel appreciated, connected and empowered.

“Tell your employees constantly how much you appreciate them and that without them you wouldn’t have a successful business. Because that’s the truth at the end of the day.” – Iris Kavanagh, Consultant, Co-leader of the Global Alliance of Women Who Cowork and Founder of Coworking with Iris

Encourage them to take breaks and use their vacation time, regardless of how busy working in a coworking space might be. If your teammates have worked until late because of an event, give them the next morning off.

Model good self-care as well. By being a good example, you’ll encourage your team members to act the same.

Make them feel connected, with a sense of belonging,and empower them professionally and personally. Provide coaching and personal development opportunities, and encourage them to do what they’re passionate about.

Guide them in setting clear and realistic expectations for themselves and their tasks (which in coworking are often never-ending). Let them know that you don’t expect them to know everything but you do expect of them to continually advance and build on their knowledge.

Promotional efforts

It’s never too early to start selling your second coworking space. To attract the right leads that you or your salesperson can convert to customers, it’s essential to put effort into marketing.

Of course, every coworking space has its own style for attracting people, but we’ve listed some basics you should consider in any case.

The earlier you start filling up your coworking space, the better. After all, you wouldn’t like to find yourself in a situation where you launch and you don’t have any members yet.

Setting the hype and spreading the word from the very beginning is essential.

Set up the hype within your current community
There’s no better place than your current community for spreading the word about your second coworking space. Some members might find their new office in your second space, and others might bring a friend who’s looking for a workplace.

On top of that, your community might come up with valuable ideas about your space and your service and how to make them even better. Talk to your members about what they want to see in your new space, what they like or dislike in the current one.

Of course, it’s not possible to guarantee that everything your community suggests will happen, but it’s always good to let people know that you want to hear their feedback, and you want them to have a say.

Keep them posted about work in progress, ask them for their opinion, and invite them to do hard hat tours with you—such things are fun for almost everybody.

When you engage your community with the opening process of the new location, people will feel like part of it, and this will make them loyal.

Use your Digital Channels
Use all your digital channels, like your website and your social media profiles, to spread the word about your new space.

Aim for creating a vibe, posting relevant updates about the setup process and the upcoming opening, and engaging your digital audience.

Posting “in progress” photos on social media might help create a great vibe and buzz. Try engaging your audience even more with games like inviting people to suggest names for the meeting rooms in your second coworking space.

Optimize your website for search engines and people
To make sure the information you put on your website is discoverable, investing effort in search engine optimization is key.

At its core, this consists of constructing your website and its content so it appears when people search for specific keywords and phrases. Working on your page content, page speed, URLs, and meta descriptions is the foundation.

Make sure your website is mobile-friendly. We spend significant time on our mobile devices, so the chances people will visit your website from their smartphones are high. Mobile-friendly websites are ranked higher by Google and provide visitors with a better experience while browsing.

Don’t just optimize for search engines though— optimize for people! You’re targeting humans, so communicate like a human. Think of what information a potential customer would need to make a decision. After all, if they don’t know what you sell, they won’t buy.

Make sure to include your address, membership options, and meeting rooms types, and the type of community that people will have access to if they join your coworking space. If you offer additional services or amenities, make sure to point that out.

Reach out to third parties
Reach out to industry and local media. Write a short and informative announcement about the upcoming launch of your second space, add nice photos to it, and send it to journalists.

Focus on the role your coworking space will play in the business environment in the city/region and the value that your space will add.

Let local business communities or professional institutions know that you’re going to open a new space in town, and help them learn more about what benefits your space will bring to them.

Once you’re ready with the fit-out, invite journalists, professionals, industry influencers, or any other people that might be interested in a new coworking space in town for a walk in the space or an exclusive trial day prior to the official opening.

Bonus tip: Focusing on local SEO is an awesome idea, as web searches for coworking spaces in almost all cases include a specific location like “coworking space in New York”.

Setting up systems

Before you can actually get operational, you need to make sure that on the day you go live, everything will be working properly.

Besides the things related to the construction, there are three essential systems that are crucial for the launch of the space: internet, door access, and contracts and invoicing software. Those are enough to make sure you have your space running properly for the go-live day.

A cable internet connection is critical for any security and door access systems, which you’ll need to install and test them before launch. The internet is also essential to let you do any kind of operational work on site prior to launch, and will allow your very first members to immediately get to work once they come to your space.

Contracts and invoicing software, on the other hand, is necessary to enable you to process any customers who said yes to your new space and signed commitments early on.

Conclusion

We had to make difficult calls about what points and pieces to include in this ebook. We tried to zero in on the topics that would be useful for someone either early in their thoughts of expanding or who has recently scaled to a second location and is already thinking about expanding again. Our thinking on how to grow, manage and expand a coworking space is a work in progress, and this is our first stab at compiling it.

Source: officernd

Silvia Emma Published by Silvia Emma

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