Productivity |

How to Eliminate the Top 3 Coworking Space Time Wasters

Abigail Schilling
Abigail Schilling
How to Eliminate the Top 3 Coworking Space Time Wasters

Coworking spaces are fast-paced work environments filled with many competing priorities and goals. Operators and community managers find themselves juggling numerous tasks, from member management to space issues and event planning, all while trying their best to create a thriving community and maintain a profitable business. 

Yet, despite working from morning till night, there’s often an uneasy sense that you’re not making any real progress, and burnout seems imminent!

While it’s all too easy to get on the never-ending treadmill of tasks – the bigger problem is that we often react impulsively to things that feel urgent but really aren't.  We cater to urgency instead of taking a moment to think things through, sticking to our limits, and focusing on our priorities. When we give in to that pressing feeling of "I need to do this now," we're losing a lot more than just time. It's like we're giving up on steering our own lives, letting random events decide our direction instead of choosing our path ourselves.

The Core Issue: Reacting vs. Prioritizing

The main problem lies in the tendency to respond to the immediate demands of the day—helping people around the clock, addressing every minor request or question from members, and getting caught up in the details of operations. \

While these things feel urgent, they’re not necessarily the most important things that need to be done, and this reactive approach leads to some major consequences: burnout, lack of focus, and, ultimately, getting nowhere fast. As a fellow coworking space owner – and through working with dozens of coworking spaces through my agency—I've seen the treadmill of endless tasks that distract from our real goals: building community, enjoying life (family, hobbies, sleep!) outside of work, creating a profitable business.

The unique heart at the center of coworking space management is nurturing our communities and making our spaces thrive. It's a journey that combines strategy with the human touch, making every coworking space not just a place to work but a place to belong. But too often, there is so much clutter to cut through and time wasted.  

Let’s get into the three biggest time wasters and how you can regain control of your time and sanity!

Time Waster #1: The Allure of Urgency Over Importance

One of the most common traps coworking space operators and community managers fall into is focusing on tasks that seem urgent (or enjoyable!) but fail to add to the bottom line

Whether it's crafting aesthetically pleasing signs, endlessly tweaking the space’s floor plan and layout, or taste-testing new coffee brands, these activities, while fun, detract from more impactful work.

coworking space managers at the whiteboard

Solution: The key to overcoming these distractions lies in going back to your priorities. Crafting a strategy that focuses on activities that boost your bottom line, and using time management tricks like time blocking, helps carve out specific time for every task while keeping you on track with your main goals. When you're out of time but didn't finish your to-do list, you can still confidently close that laptop—knowing that the important things got done. 

Time Waster #2: Round-the-Clock Availability

The expectation of providing immediate, round-the-clock assistance to members is another significant drain on time and resources. This looks like anything from constant interruptions with FAQs, and catering to prospective members who take up a lot of time with questions, concerns but haven’t actually committed to joining.

coworking space manager tracking time

Solution: Setting clear boundaries for staff availability, communicating these expectations to members (“We respond within 24 hours!” etc.), and utilizing automation and technology for how-to guides, self-help, and common inquiries can free up time and help your interactions with members and guests be on impact vs troubleshooting!

Time Waster #3: Over-Complicated, Low-ROI Events

Hosting events that feel necessary but are too complex and poorly attended is a clear sign of misdirected effort. These activities often result from reacting to perceived needs rather than sticking with a data-driven strategy focused on growth and ROI.

coworking space manager organizing event

Solution: Looking at past results, prioritization, and the ability to say no is essential. Are your events driving revenue? You may need to streamline and reconfigure your events to ensure they aren’t a resource drain. By clearly defining your event objectives and making sure they align with your strategic goals, you can make sure that you’re spending time on activities that truly benefit your coworking space.

Real World Results: Systems and Boundaries Transformed This Coworking Space

I previously worked with a coworking space where the community manager was trying to focus on revenue-generating activities, but their entire day was consumed with constant interruptions. The morning started by hosting a member event. Then the day was filled with answering various member questions in the moment, getting some new members settled, and dealing with operational snags. By the end of the day, the community manager realized their marketing newsletter was still unwritten, and an office tour had slipped through the cracks. 

After comparing their company goals and their identified priorities to their actual time audit, we were able to confirm that urgency was dominating over importance. 

We worked together to set up a plan and put in place some systems to help avoid reacting to urgency. We set up time blocking on the calendar so there was focus time for marketing activities, we started enforcing boundaries and member policies, and we leveraged their space management software to create how-to guides and other automations so that members could get answers fast—without interrupting the community manager. By using these tools—they transformed their operational approach. 

Putting a self-service system in place and a process for member inquiries allowed them to focus on strategic tasks—filling offices, better tours, and increasing overall revenue.

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6 Ways to Stop the Cycle of Reacting

To truly address the underlying issue of reacting vs. prioritizing, coworking space operators and community managers need to focus on a few key activities:

coworking space manager with a member

Prioritize and Set Clear Objectives

Put your long-term strategic priorities and goals front and center—print them out and have them visible every day. These goals should focus on both the growth of your business and the satisfaction of your community.

When deciding where to put your time, determine which activities directly contribute to achieving your strategic goals. This involves distinguishing between tasks that are urgent and those that are important, prioritizing the latter.

Utilize Time Management Systems Effectively

Start time blocking—allocate specific blocks of time to different tasks or categories of work. This helps ensure that high-priority activities receive the focus and resources they need right out of the gate.

Use digital tools and apps designed to enhance productivity, such as calendars, task managers, and project management software like Asana or Trello, to keep track of deadlines and priorities.

Enforce Policies and Set Clear Expectations

Create and communicate clear policies regarding member conduct, space usage, staff availability, and other operational aspects. This sets boundaries and helps manage member expectations from the start.

Clearly outline your availability to members, including when and how they can reach you for help. This prevents constant interruptions and allows for more focused work.

Leverage Automation and Technology

Use coworking space management software like Spacebring to automate administrative tasks such as booking, billing, and member communications.

Develop digital how-to guides for frequently asked questions and common procedures. This empowers members to help themselves and reduces the time staff spend on repetitive inquiries.

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Delegate or Automate Routine Tasks

Assess your daily tasks and identify which ones can be delegated to other team members, outsourced to a skilled contractor, or automated using technology or AI.

Ensure your team is well-trained and capable of handling delegated tasks effectively. This might involve investing in their skills development or providing clear guidelines and resources.

Continuously Evaluate and Adapt Strategies Based on Outcomes

Schedule periodic reviews of your strategies and their outcomes. This involves analyzing performance data, member feedback, and financial results.

Be prepared to adjust your strategies based on how it all works in real life! It's all a work in process, and you’ll improve over time.

The True Benefits of Prioritization in Your Coworking Space

By tackling these time wasters head-on, the benefits become very clear. You'll regain time to focus on long-term goals, leading to a more fulfilling and less stressful management experience.

You'll see an increase in revenue while decreasing the effort required for day-to-day operations.

Plus, focusing on your true priorities results in more time and resources for what matters most, enhancing both the coworking space's profitability and your coworking community's satisfaction. The transition from reacting to prioritizing is not just about managing time more effectively—it's about reclaiming it. 

As a coworking space community manager, this shift is the key to unlocking your true potential, driving growth, and achieving a sustainable balance between workplace demands and strategic ambitions.

The article was written by Abigail Schilling. Abigail is a seasoned coworking space expert — and your personal competitive advantage as you build and grow your own space.

With over twenty years in leadership with expertise in business and marketing, and as the owner/operator of three coworking spaces in Oregon, she saw firsthand the struggles facing coworking space operators. 

Abigail founded Space Savvy Studio, a coworking operations agency offering services like administrative support, marketing, and custom tech solutions, focusing on improving operations and member experiences in coworking spaces.

Known for her strategic vision and dynamic leadership, she is committed to empowering others in the coworking industry with her experience and creative solutions.

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