Are Coworking Spaces Asking Too Much From Community Managers?

Sometimes, the job description of community managers are grossly overwritten, leading to too many tasks and responsibilities that can easily lead to stress and burnout
  • Community managers can make or break a space; they’re the ones that make sure a coworking space is operating smoothly and that members have a chance to come together.
  • However, community managers also have a long list of other responsibilities, like marketing, fundraising, event organizing, and back-office activities.
  • Asking too much of community managers can lead to stress and burnout.

This article is part 3 of my series of articles about community managers. Previously I discussed the backgrounds and requirements for a great community manager.

Depending on the type of coworking space and its size, community managers can have different levels of day to day responsibilities. Typically, they are always asked to provide great customer service, hospitality, and operational support. However, they sometimes are also asked to initiate, convert, and manage the entire sales process. I have also seen community managers doing front and back office activities, bookkeeping, running all events, marketing, PR, and even fundraising.




Why does this matter?

I believe that community managers have a wonderful opportunity to bring members together, stay in front of issues, run events, and manage the cleanliness of a coworking space. However, I have also seen their responsibilities expand to cover for as much as the work of two or three full-time staff members.

An Old Issue

Back when modern coworking first began to take off in different markets in the mid-2000s, coworking owners took up the role of community managers. They did anything and everything needed in the space.

The problem with this was that when owners began to search for someone to replace them, they thought hiring only one person would be enough. Yet, in order for the space to grow and succeed, the ideal decision would’ve been to hire several people. Not doing this, in some cases, has resulted in many coworking spaces asking too much from one staff member and, to a certain extent, in disappointment that they didn’t find someone that could do everything just like they did.

Small to medium size spaces tend to experience this challenge more often than larger workspaces. Within a larger space and potentially a larger parent organization, there is typically enough revenue to support staff or multiple community managers to help keep everything on track without risking burnout.

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So the question really is when does it become too much?

Easy.

First, write down all of the day to day activities that you believe need to be done by a community manager. Is there more to be done than there is time in a typical day?

If yes, then maybe the requirements need to change or another person(s) is needed to fill the gap on what is needed to be done.

What can be done to help prevent this from happening in the first place?

Shorten the Job Description

In my experience, job descriptions for community managers are grossly overwritten, boilerplate and not specific to the needs of a space. Some even read as a wish list that may or may not be attainable with the salary and time available for one person.

Time Management

One of the most important traits of a successful community manager is his o her time management skills. When a schedule is maintained well, a community manager understands what gets pushed to another day if something important comes up on any given day. Without understanding what can be accomplished in a day, I find someone is more likely to become overwhelmed and stressed out due to an ever-growing and unsustainable list of things to do.

Manage Expectations

A community manager who can push back to the owners, management, and members saying when and what to expect with new requests is incredibly important. When you manage expectations, everyone also stays happier or at least has clarity on when to expect what.

What’s next?

To be clear, I do not believe all community managers are overworked.

However, I do believe that it is incredibly important to pay attention to how much is being asked of the people in our workspaces.

A successful community manager role is one in which they have an ability to connect with the people in the space and impact their lives for the better. This doesn’t happen if they are being pulled in too many directions.

If we don’t monitor and take care of our people, they are more likely to leave for a new space or even a different industry. Without great people who stick around longer in the coworking and flexible workspace industry, our industry suffers by a loss in skilled and wonderful people who can be the future leaders and ambassadors of coworking and each individual space.

Are you a community manager who would like to share some of your experiences? Are you an owner or manager that has a job description that you would like me to review or would like to share your thoughts? Great! Feel free to reach out and start a conversation.