- Community managers are the heart of a flexible workspace’s day to day operations.
- They fulfill different tasks and wear different hats on a day to day basis, which is why some even argue we ask too much from community managers.
- From making coffee to greeting guests, to making sure everything is running smoothly, here’s how a community manager’s day to day typically goes by.
As we have seen in one of my previous articles about where do great community managers come from, the most important background skills a community or office manager should have are:
- Customer Service
So what do community managers actually do each day?
The short answer is a lot. Community managers have several responsibilities and they tend to wear quite a few hats in any given day.
As a remote worker and digital nomad working within flexible workspaces around the world, I have seen countless examples of how critical these people are to a space and how their days can be both extremely different and quite similar to other spaces across the world.
These people are truly the unsung heroes of coworking spaces!
However, I wanted to learn and expose myself to more experiences than my own. Which is why I posed a “simple” question to owners, operators, community managers, consultants, researchers, and many more in the industry.
“Do you find it important to have a day to day process in place for community managers in order to develop a successful community and workspace? I would love to hear why or why not.”
The answer was an overwhelming yes and here’s why.
Fritz Fowler with the Office Evolution said, “Yes we have daily, weekly and monthly processes in place. More of a checklist for our business center managers. We think it’s important to have these just like any business has so there is consistency.”
For Nicole Vasquez at Second Shift in Chicago, she said, “YES I absolutely think having a daily structure is important. The reason is, throughout the day so many things pop up … and having a plan allows a community manager to continually refer to the plan and ask “what do I still need to do today” and make sure they are hitting on all the important things.”
I could go on and on.
The point is that having a day to day plan in place is important. However, it is also crucial to understand that not every day will be the same and not every plan or process will fit every space.
Chris Cooley with Evelo Agency says that “in our experience there is no cookie cutter list of tasks for a community manager to do. Tasks must be adjusted according to the needs and culture that your members require.”
He continues to say that “we have found that the spaces that are most full have a community manager (and/or owner) that “walks the floor”. This means the person in this role is visible, interactive, present and engaged with members 60% of their time.”
An active community manager with set tasks can help create a better working environment, build a stronger community, consistently improve the experience for its members, and maintain and grow the occupancy of the space.
At the same time, these processes further help to align the owners and management with the community manager of the space so that everyone is on the same page about what is expected.
So what do we know? What activities are consistently done across many different spaces?
The Common Daily Needs & Tasks of Community Managers
A simple yet powerful lesson mentioned by Fritz was to “be on time and available to members”. In many countries, punctuality is a sign of respect, especially that you respect your and other people’s time. Be early if you can but just don’t be late. Even if someone else might come late, don’t set the standard of showing up after you said you would. In most spaces in the world, people do not have to wait. They can just as easily get a tour from another space across the street.
Opening / Closing Tasks
Second Shift in Chicago has “an opening and closing checklist that all managers have to go by.”
For example, Vasquez mentions the following:
- Preparing the Space for the Day
- Make coffee
- Make sure all lights and equipment are on/off during opening/closing respectively.
- Shut off all electronics, lights, equipment before closing.
- Take the garbage out.
Whatever your opening and closing tasks are, it is always important to clean up, stock up and prepare the space for the next day.
It’s like making your bed every day.
If you end your day by getting the space back to neutral or ‘making your bed’, then the next time you return you are starting your day afresh.
Who doesn’t like a clean space?!
Operations / Customer Service / Hospitality
Anita Füzi with Evelo Agency believes that it is important to “make sure that everybody is comfortable and feels at home” since community managers are the “first contact for all people”. This is the core of what providing great customer service and wonderful hospitality is all about for any current and future member of a space.
Here are some of the most common operational, customer service, and hospitality related activities needed on a day to day basis in a workspace:
- General housekeeping
- Cleaning or picking up dishes left out
- Making the coffee
- Checking and adjusting the temperature of the rooms / space
- Feeding the fish
- Making sure we have correct billing details for today’s bookings
- Greeting people
- Being friendly
- Helping with any questions or needs
- Keeping the space safe for all members from all backgrounds
- Delivering the additional basics of a coworking space
No one wants to work in a space where people haven’t been friendly, where it is dirty, can’t find help if they need it, has internet issues, or where the coffee or tea has run dry.
What if there is an issue with any of the above?
#1 Rule: Be Proactive!
Vasquez says that “our managers are also instructed to go around every so often, and LOOK at the space and the people working. Offer to pick up empty coffee mugs if someone is done with it, pick up water glasses left behind, straighten up meeting rooms, pick up candy wrappers, etc. Walking around and proactively looking for ways to keep the place clean and neat, and making people feel comfortable is part of their daily duty.”
Serkan Kurtulus with Cowork24/7 believes “it is key (for community managers) to establish a daily habit to “observe, listen and connect” with their community. This needs to be a planned and deliberate effort, and can’t be left to ‘coincidences’.”
Walking around the space and monitoring things as simple as if something is out of place, someone is having a bad day, while also generally being available is one of the most important roles a community manager fills.
This is where operational needs overlap with customer service, hospitality, and even community building activities, as this is what helps create a space that people buy into and want to work in because there is more value in it than a desk and chair.
Community and Networking
According to Füzi, “openness, curiosity, building trust, proactivity and being passionate about creating connections are the heart of everything”. I believe that this is the core of how a community manager can help develop a wonderful community and culture in a workspace.
Some ways to connect members and to connect community managers with members:
- Being available and present for members
- Morning get-togethers
- Member Lunches
- Planned or unplanned get-togethers with specific members for coffee or lunch
- Individually connect members that should meet
Community managers have an extremely powerful position to bring people together while also helping each member get exactly what they are looking for out of a space.
Kurtulus also says that “it is essential for the community manager to know everyone’s expectations, and create an environment where everyone feels included, but that is not forced.”
Community building and networking cannot be forced.
You can help things along and create opportunities, but the moments of serendipity happen because of the continuous and daily actions of the people within the space.
Events and Meetings
Kurtulus believes that “while it is important for a community manager to promote the coworking space to create a sense of belonging and loyalty, s/he can’t just drive his/her own agenda (of events, activities, etc). It is best when the community itself drives its agenda and the community manager is an enabler and catalyst in this.”
If you hold an event or get together, pay attention to whether it was successful or not.
Create a survey if you would like but it is always important to accept feedback and suggestions from your audience so that you can adapt accordingly.
Coworking Space Tours / Sales
Cooley brought up an interesting point and I very much agree with him.
He says that “doing a CONSISTENT tour is ABSOLUTELY critical and is where most community managers miss an opportunity. I have been on SO many tours where I am told ALL about the space and amenities, but very few community managers ever SELL me on the value of their unique lifestyle and culture.”
For me, most tours of spaces are fairly bland and not personal. I know it is seen as going through the motions for many managers, however, what I want is to walk into a space and have a tour where I get introduced to a space and I feel like I am already a part of the community.
Accounting / Bookkeeping / Invoicing
Although not always asked for, some manager roles include some aspect of accounting, bookkeeping, or at least making sure the invoices are correct before they are sent. This can be a time intensive process and should definitely be planned for.
Communications / PR / Marketing / Sales
Most manager roles have some level of marketing or outreach involved with it, however, this can also include many more things:
- Developing a marketing plan
- Managing and implementing a content writing and social media marketing plan strategy
- Writing press releases for the space.
- Developing a sales strategy
- Monthly Sales Targets
A community manager is definitely in a position to publicize, promote, and sell the space on an ongoing basis; however, there are always limitations on what can be done by any one person.
Just keep in mind that if the sales and marketing activities become a higher priority than operations, hospitality, and community building, then the latter will suffer unless there is someone else to pick up the slack.
Rule Enforcement and Problem Solving
If a manager becomes aware of an issue or potential issue between members and or staff, it is important to call it out early and mediate a solution.
Most problems can be solved easier by just identifying them from the beginning, documenting them, and working together with all parties to determine the best plan of action. I have seen issues blow up into large, space changing events, and I have also seen a bigger issue cooled down and resolved just by talking through it.
Sometimes a manager might even need to ask members to leave a space. Not unlike firing someone, a process should be put in place if a person does not fit the values of a workspace.
Basically, set an understanding in the space from the beginning that it is a core value to treat people as you would like to be treated. Don’t avoid an issue and ask that all members are open and honest with each other, especially if it involves pet peeves such as being too loud, being messy, etc.
What should community managers do on a busy day?
Anna Ciborowska with The Melting Pot in Edinburgh greatly summed up the importance of these task lists for busy days:
“We do have checklists that we use on a regular basis. They are designed to help us deliver a high quality service, avoid mistakes, and free our brains from thinking about the small, everyday things so we can focus on what is most important: the people in our space!”
“We have also included “have you chatted to members today?” as a task to make sure that even when we’re very busy community managers feel like they are able to put the never ending emails aside for a few extra minutes and find out about someone’s day.”
Are Community Managers Being Asked to Do too Much?
As you would imagine, sometimes yes and sometimes no.
It is up to community managers, owners, and even members to set expectations to each other on what can and will be accomplished on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis.
Should the role of a community manager change over time?
Vasquez says that “the community manager’s plan should be able to evolve, based on feedback from the community on what is and isn’t working. Also, as a coworking space grows, its goals, projections, and more will evolve – the community manger is the heart of a space and they should always know what the company is planning on doing, where its going, and how its going to get there.”
As more small, medium, and large organizations move into flexible and shared workspaces, it is up to the spaces and community managers to keep up and adapt their offerings and processes to provide the best environment and experience for every single member of their space.
What do you think? Did I miss something or do you think I am just flat out wrong somewhere? Send me a message about community managers, remote working, or anything you might want to chat about.