Not all Centers Should be Coworking Centers

Written by Susan Smith

The flexible workplace industry counts with  a variety of office options in order to meet the needs of its diverse clientele.

That’s how it’s been and that’s  how it should be.

From years of experience and involvement in the industry, I’ve learned that a typical business center client isn’t likely to thrive in a coworking space, and vice versa. This stems from the fact that most business center clients tend to be mature professionals that already count with the necessary workforce or professionals that prefer to insulate their space and work better with a shut door. It’s safe to say that a coworking space wouldn’t be able to cater to these needs; the coworking concept is based in open and shared spaces where people can network and find opportunities to work together in order to develop and create new things.

Which leads to my main concern for this article: Why is Regus transitioning to a Community Manager structure when their operating model is not one of typical coworking space providers?

So this is what’s happened. In true Regus fashion, they have, once again, restructured their organization by shifting the Senior Client Service Representative role to one of a Community Manager. This new position is responsible for fostering client collaboration and basically running the day-to-day operations of a given location.

Positions come and go quickly and this creates unrest within the organization, and with due reason. The General Manager and Area Director positions have been eliminated and the Area Manager will now be responsible for running 3-5 centers.

Their claim is that the new business model will help their people to spend more time with their customers and community. However, slashing staff adds more work, increases stress, and reduces the amount of quality time available to spend with your clients and community.

A true Community Manager enhances the connections and interactions of the coworker to bring them value and to actively accelerate serendipity. It’s not enough to change a title. It’s a job that requires constant dedication and commitment in order to create and drive the right interactions that form a strong sense of community.

The average Community Manager dedicates  at least half of his or her day as a curator, getting to know the personal and professional lives of each member, and constructing spaces in which coworkers and staff can collaborate together and prosper.

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Coworking is a verb. Offering a shared workspace isn’t enough. Coworking implies actions, it implies activities, it implies constant effort from operators to build a thriving community.

I’m wondering, what is Regus aiming at? Not only have they renamed their Client Representative role, but they’ve also rolled out a new casual dress code. Regus clients have always been professionals dressed in business suits, that’s what I believe is the core of their business, that’s the image that I associate when I think of Regus. And personally, I think they should stick to it.

The coworking niche demands a coworking environment, just as a the business center market niche demands a formal business environment. So, is Regus truly shifting and transforming into a coworking space provider or is this simply a marketing strategy?