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Navigating Top Coworking Space Challenges

M
Muhammad Faheem
Navigating Top Coworking Space Challenges

Coworking was known as the gig economy where individuals and agencies used to freelance and work from home. In recent years, bigger companies have joined the coworking industry, hiring remote workers and allowing employees to work from a space they are more comfortable in.

The increasing demand to find a peaceful workspace i.e. an alternative to home or a secluded office, brought a boom in the coworking industry. Now more than ever facilities are available for the digital nomads. A report by Coworking Insights speculates the number of coworking facilities to reach 41,975 by 2024. It is the digital nomads and freelancers who are looking for and filling these spaces.

Like any other business, a coworking space also comes with several challenges. This post shares some of the top challenges coworking spaces are facing in 2023 so that you can tackle them with effective strategies.

1. Ensuring Pin Drop Silence

It becomes difficult to retain silence when teams and individuals with different tasks work on a shared work floor. A team or co-founders are likely to chat most of the time to keep on enriching an idea and adding more to it. Their conversation may be a nuisance for fellow workers.

Some people have freelance projects or remote jobs and may expect pin-drop silence at their workplace. If they are unable to have it, they may complain or find other facilities for a more peaceful environment. Keeping them both happier is a challenge. You can take the following steps to over it:

  • Redefine SOPs for shared spaces. Pursue a library-like environment.
  • Create discussion corners and conference rooms.
  • Offer separate rooms for teaming and discussion.
  • Divider workstations or install cubicles for privacy.
  • Insulate the workspace to prevent sound from one space to another.
  • Keep equipment well-maintained like printers, copiers, and ovens.
  • Install cloud printing to remove the nuisance of getting a print.

2. Rising Real Estate Costs

Finding affordable space to run a coworking facility is becoming difficult with every passing day. Landlords in the prime areas of a city are getting familiar with the idea of shared offices. They are pursuing it as a business themselves or asking for higher rent. Thus, it has been a challenging task for entrepreneurs who are pursuing a passion for bringing modern and advanced workspaces to the freelancing and tech community at affordable prices.

Raising real estate costs as one of the coworking space challenges

The first and foremost thing is to seek partnerships with the landlords. You can collaborate with a property owner, narrate the goal, and get him to agree on opening a coworking space Islamabad. You may find plenty of under-utilized spaces. Reach out to their owners and get a deal. Try more tips to overcome the increasing prices.

  • Onboard the landlord as a partner.
  • Negotiate a better deal with a long-term lease.
  • Consider alternative locations that are easy to access.
  • Pursue a small town where such facilities were not created before.
  • Start with premium facilities to charge higher for them.
  • Keep increasing membership fees as the rent increases.
  • Move your office to the coworking facility. Merge costs. The Desk by United Sol is one good example.
  • Rent space from a school or similar organizations for the afternoon and evening.

Optimize your invoicing and payment operations for maximum financial success

3. Retaining Members

The moment you have started a coworking space, it attracts several members for its unique design, features, and other facilities. With time, the charm fades away in the eyes of coworkers as they get news and updates about similar facilities nearby. In pursuit of getting updates about other coworking spaces, they feel the absence of facilities or the design seems to be obsolete.

The cut-through competition is making every owner come up with more and more features to increase memberships. In such a situation, retaining members becomes a challenge difficult to overcome. If you want to keep them loyal to the space, add options to ensure they are getting the right value for money.

A stable internet connection, power backup, cleanliness, etc. are mandatory. Bring the best services in this regard. However, to add value, you can come up with more innovative ideas to retain clients. It includes:

  • Hold events, workshops, and community events.
  • Keep the membership options flexible to retain and return.
  • Add a kitchenette to executive suites.
  • No limits on coffee, tea, and snacks.
  • Add a café, fitness center, child care, message center, etc.
  • Conduct regular surveys to seek clients’ feedback.
  • Greet members on birthdays, achievements, and other events.

4. Preventing Harassment

A coworking facility is meant for everyone. It is not confined to a specific niche or industry as anyone can join to work or pursue an idea in a peace-loving environment. The presence of people from so diverse fields and backgrounds may create space for harassment. It may increase with time if coworkers are from different companies or startups as they may consider giving respect to their colleagues only and take other fellows for granted. In certain cases, harassment is reported against the working staff like office boys and cleaners. Here’s how you can tackle harassment at a coworking space.

how to prevent harassment at a coworking space
  • Write a clear policy to prevent it in the first place.
  • Simplify reporting such incidents to the management.
  • Educate coworkers about their conduct.
  • Discourage sexual harassment by putting images, text, and signboards.
  • Choose a community manager to better manage complaints.
  • Report the person guilty to the authorities to ensure he/she gets a lesson.

5. Managing Spaces

A coworking space may be vacant for an initial couple of weeks but may become Housefull as soon as it gets popular. Freelancers and remote workers would like to get membership on a weekly or monthly basis. So you may never know whether they are returning next month or not. Whereas, startups and companies sign up for six months or a year, which may give you an idea as to when you can accommodate more people.

Keeping the space always available for potential clients and always filled up for maximum revenue is a bigger challenge. Things may happen like you say No to a client and the next week an office or several desks are left vacant by a team. Therefore, you have to pay more attention to managing the space for maximum tenancy. Here are a few recommendations to deal with it.

  • Keep track of long-term memberships.
  • Devise an actionable marketing strategy to fill up the space.
  • Recognize spaces and corners that can be converted into makeshift offices.
  • Accommodate people in conference rooms when it’s free and available.
  • Make the most out of the free space with floor cushions, bean bags, & low tables.
  • Creating a waiting list to let aspiring coworkers know when there is free space.
  • Add another floor or another facility if more members want to get the services.

6. Making Office Supplies Available

Members of a coworking space are overwhelmed when they find most of the supplies within the facility. It is time-consuming for them to request someone or go out to get petty things, and compromises precious working hours. It may include accessories like a mouse, extension cords, a phone charger, or a monitor, tablet, or projector to test things.

Office utensils that are sold at a coworking space

If they forget a thing at home, getting back home will be a waste of time, and getting a new one is a waste of resources. What if you provide them and earn a loyal customer? You can add more gadgets, electronics, and equipment and charge them a fee for using them. Printers, copiers, and scanners are the common ones. You can make available useful products they need. For example, microphone and high-resolution cameras, blinds, lighting for a photo shoot, etc. Follow more ways to fulfill the needs of your coworking community.

  • Find the nearest retailer to get groceries in time.
  • Invest more in electronics and gadgets.
  • Create a rent model to make members ask for things confidently.
  • Carry a survey to make available the most demanding facility.
  • Ask members if they can share a gadget they have with other members.
  • Add a stationery corner for all the office supplies.

7. Strengthening Security

Security is a matter of concern when running a coworking space. You need to be vigilant about the people accessing the space and its cyber security as well. You might have experienced how easy it is for an outsider to access a coworking space if he or she asks for a tour. Taking them to the space, and visiting them through each facility may breach the security and privacy of the members, and create a nuisance.

Restrict such visits to off-peak hours or weekends when most of the members are taking a rest or create high-quality videos to ensure it suffices the needs of a physical tour. Installing a CCTV camera can be another advantage to monitor what is lost or stolen.

Cyber security is a grave concern. The members of the shared workspace are prone to malware, phishing, password attacks, and lots of other threats. One member installing harmful software may affect others because of the shared network. You can deal with the security issues in the following ways:

  • Install CCTV cameras, and keep them monitored.
  • Build lockers to help members lock their belongings.
  • Prevent unknowns from visiting the space. Take tour requests & schedule.
  • Encrypt WIFI and LAN connections
  • Get the networks audited by cybersecurity professionals

8. Acquiring New Clients

Finding new clients has always been a struggle in the coworking ecosystem. The increasing competition is also making it difficult for the management to grow and expand. Growth and expansion is the ultimate goal of a business. A coworking space can acquire new clients with reliable services and top-notch facilities. First of all, it is better to work on retaining the existing members. Their retention will give you the confidence to offer facilities that may attract new clients or they may refer their friends too. Try the following strategies to acquire more clients.

  • Offer free trials. Such as a day pass.
  • Partner with a web development company or an IT firm to get more clients
  • Come up with facilities not available elsewhere. Gym, daycare, or other sports
  • Start a referral program to turn existing members into your brand advocates.
  • Get affiliation with other businesses e.g. hotels to offer office space to tourists.
  • Pursue niche coworking to attract musicians, podcasters, etc.
  • Create women-only spaces.

A recent study suggests that a coworking business is closely connected to the travel and tourism industry. You can acquire more clients such as entrepreneurs, digital nomads, and freelancers. They like looking for travel destinations. Your coworking space can be an amazing place for them to know the community, share experiences, work and explore workspace culture and be part of fun activities.

Conclusion

The coworking industry is facing several challenges in 2023. To stay relevant to the changing landscape, the owners or managers of a coworking facility need to recognize the issues and devise solutions for them. Work on making the space silent and peaceful. Keep the prices affordable and meet the increasing real estate cost by adding more sources of income to the space. Retain members with outstanding facilities and service. Stop people trespassing and harassing coworkers and violating their privacy. Manage spaces to ensure it is occupied most of the time. Make available office suppliers to prevent coworkers from the discomfort of arranging them. Put strong security protocols in place. Draft strategies to acquire new clients. Keep evolving with the trends as there won't be a challenge for you difficult to overcome.


The article was written by Muhammad Faheem, a seasoned writer who is curious about the tech and coworking ecosystem. It has been 7 years since he is a part of a coworking space, exploring startups, understanding their struggles, and finding new ways to facilitate the members. His observations, research, and suggestions have helped shared spaces become ideal workspaces for the digital nomads and freelancers community.


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