- Jamie Orr, founder of JellySwitch and Coworking Tahoe, discusses how the right technology can help operators run their space more efficiently.
- Crucially, your choice of tech must solve a problem. Beware ‘shiny object syndrome’ and don’t get sucked in by the buzz of new tech if you don’t actually need it.
- There is still no solution that will run your flexible office business for you. Choose a tech solution that complements your offering and your business model.
Coworking and flexible office space businesses of all sizes face similar challenges when it comes to operations and customer experience. Many look to technology solutions to help solve them. From electronic doors to network security, occupancy sensors to billing, guest management to meeting room bookings, there are no lack of hardware and software options to apply to every conceivable scenario.
The success of coworking spaces depends on the positive customer experience they can offer, and technology can play a key role in achieving that. When deciding what technology to use for your workplace, the number of choices can seem overwhelming.
The first question often asked is if workplace technology is worth the investment? Absolutely. It can be a huge asset to your business by helping streamline operations and providing better leverage on time — both for customers and for operators.
The next decision to be made is what technology to use, and whether to buy it or build it. To decide what technology you need, here are a few tips:
- Focus on what you want your ideal customer experience to be.
- Before looking for solutions, make sure you understand what problem you are trying to solve and who you are solving it for.
- Look for technology that solves that problem in an easy to use and intuitive way.
There are a few pitfalls to watch out for when choosing what technology to use and how to use it.
1. Building when you should buy.
If your business model is centered on delivering amazing flexible office space, stay focused on that. Building technology when you aren’t a technology company can be a huge risk and investment. This direction should not be undertaken unless you have the resources not only to build in the first place, but also the expertise in house to do it well, and then to maintain it as your business evolves. It is better to focus upon your core business model and buy great technology than risk delivering a poor experience with something mediocre, or worse.
2. Shiny Object Syndrome.
Technology for technology’s sake doesn’t necessarily solve a problem. Unless it is actually meeting a customer or operational need better than what was in place before, you don’t actually need technology to do it. Don’t get sucked in by the buzz, even if it is a robotic barista.
3. Expecting technology to fix a flawed business model.
If the expectations you have of what a software product needs to do are too complicated, it’s more likely a sign that your operational model is too complicated. And that’s not good for your customer experience. For example, do you offer so many membership or lease options that it takes a map to follow them? Setting up a complicated billing system isn’t going to make that any less confusing to customers. The real solution is simplifying your product line. There are no silver bullets.
4. Expecting technology to run your business for you.
Technology cannot replace the human touch of customer service. It can only support what you already have in place, and provide more leverage on time so you can focus on delivering that human touch.
Suggested Reading: Tech in the Workplace is Falling Below Expectations
Once you have technology systems in place, how do you know if they are benefitting your business?
Signs that it’s not:
- It is confusing for staff or for customers. There is a steep learning curve for customers using your space.
- It takes more time to do something than before the technology was implemented.
- No one is using it. If there is little to no engagement from your customers, then it’s possible that it’s not the right solution to the problem you are trying to solve.
Signs it is:
- People are using it! A high engagement rate is the number one sign that the technology solution you chose is easy to use and is meeting a need.
- It’s adding value to you and your customer experience by making things easier, faster, or better. Whether it makes it faster to get into the building, to book meeting rooms, connect to members, or create data reports, it’s a good sign if it’s saving everyone time in their day to day use of the space.
Despite rapid advances in technology and increasing applications of it for the workplace, there is still no technology solution that will run your flexible office business for you. When it comes to using technology in the workplace, there are no silver bullets.
However, it is critical to have good technology to highlight and augment your member experience. The right technology can make it all faster, smoother, and better – which makes you and your business look more professional and your business more competitive.