- Having worked from coworking spaces all over the world, Robert Kropp shares first-hand experiences to help big businesses ease into coworking.
- Enterprise teams often bring their own culture. It’s essential to manage the transition to retain balance and harmony in your coworking community.
- Planning is key. The needs of larger corporations are quite different from typical memberships, and may require professional consultation.
What started as individuals and small teams coming together has evolved into an entire industry. Coworking has expanded its reach to large teams, entire departments, and individuals with flexible work arrangements at larger companies, all of whom are now using — and even creating — coworking and shared workspaces.
However, even though many big businesses such as Microsoft, Facebook, Starbucks and Bank of America have been added to the membership rolls of spaces around the world, there is still room to grow and much to be learned about how enterprise level customers can gain value through our industry.
One thing’s certain, as more big businesses make the decision to adopt coworking and flexible working, much can be done to ease the transition and help these new coworkers to be successful in their environments.
Helping Corporations Choose a Space that Fits Their Culture
When new members join a space, you can get away with having someone that isn’t necessarily a good fit. However when a larger group of 20, 30, or more members become a part of a space, the coworking team and the enterprise organization must have an important discussion around whether they are a good fit together. Open communication is key.
If the space is not the right fit, don’t force it. A space and its people, its vibe, and its owner, can clash with the entrance of a larger group which brings their own culture. If this is the case, it is often better to just say no than for everyone to have a bad experience.
In order to attract and retain corporate clients, a space needs to provide first and foremost a professional environment that matches the culture of the larger organization, or at least, doesn’t impose itself on it.
One of the biggest hurdles since the first coworking spaces were opened is the perception that they are not professional, or that they are targeted solely to startups and solopreneurs that do not have a culture that can relate or support a larger and more established company.
Instead of the same onboarding process for single members, the coworking space owner and team must put together a strategy toward supporting and meeting the goals of this new type of organization. They are not typical coworkers and shouldn’t necessarily be treated the same.
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Not Your Average Coworking Agreement
A typical coworker agreement probably won’t be enough for these larger corporations. Talk with a lawyer and their organization to come up with a plan that fits your needs, and those of the company. Big businesses are accustomed to long term leases, having full service offices, a build out that includes certain concessions, and more.
Be flexible and cater your agreements to the new members of the space.
Most likely as part of your agreement with the business, security concerns will be important.
Will VPNs need to be added to their network only? Do they have any additional security needs? Are there private offices where they can lock up equipment and sensitive information?
I have seen a space where a smaller team that was growing could no longer stay at the space since they couldn’t rent a private office. They had no other option than to leave since their biggest client required a locked room for their equipment.
Introduce the new team to the individuals and other teams at the space. The most powerful reasons to work in a coworking space include the people, the connections and serendipity moments that come along with it.
Many corporations are also looking to potentially hire from the entrepreneurial pool of a coworking space, which could also be a boom to your space and the people in it.
Friendly, sincere, and professional staff are critical. When I think of the top places in my mind that would most likely attract and retain an enterprise group, I envision a strong support team. The team needs to be competent, helpful, and understand the processes backwards and forwards so that they can solve any problems that may arise.
Communication is key. Make it clear since the first discussion that you don’t ignore problems or potential problems. If you notice something, do something about it.
Do you think that your enterprise client is being too loud or one of the open coworkers is bothering their team too much? Have a conversation with who is involved so that you can resolve the issue or at least come to a mutual agreement that is satisfactory for all parties.
There is no reason that more coworking spaces couldn’t attract and retain larger corporate clients where both parties have a great experience. Pay attention to the details and understand that the needs of these larger corporations are quite different from your typical membership. Put a plan together so that you are ready for your first enterprise client but also for supporting them into a long partnership that helps you both grow and enjoy the wonderful benefits of coworking.