There has been a growing trend for sometime now that is pushing business owners out of their own real estate space. The trend of co-working environments is when companies utilize space along side of other companies within relatively the same suite, same address, same common space, office equipment etc. Experts predict this business trend will reach 21,306 facilities worldwide by the end of 2019. This concept may not be foreign to you but many visitors to Drive Planning still view it with a healthy curiosity.
Of course the curiosity ranges in degrees of understanding and interest. Most suggest they’ve heard about this and comment about the energy and cool atmosphere that it exudes. Many business owners or anyone with an entrepreneurial flare starts doing the math; Is this a good deal?…..is it right for them? You can see their wheels begin to turn.
The upside for a growing company is the flexibility to increase your Real Estate only as you increase Human Capital. For those who track with us routinely you recognize these as two of the four key elements to business as noted in The Big Four of Business. The ease and flexibility are undeniable. You’re never purchasing dead space while you are waiting to grow.
At Drive Planning, we certainly enjoy the productivity that comes from allowing our team to work close to home. Eliminating, or at least minimizing, extreme travel time for our team members and those clients visiting our office is certainly a strategic advantage. We are able to market locations in multiple areas thus allowing us to recruit new/local Consultants or new/local clients/Members.
This brings us to a critical piece of any organization, particularly startups! The ethos of an organization is discussed more today than ever, or at least more so than anytime I recall in my twenty four year career. Is it due to the millennials who get blamed for most things:) Could this conversation be the sole result of the Google’s, Facebooks and Apple type corporations famed offices. Likely a mixture of both.
The trends of open space, in office games, drinks and youthful energy are real and I love them! However, if you’re a start up business it would certainly be hard to justify a Ping Pong Table or a bar for your new office. This new style of office affords you that luxury/perk. So, I am fully into developing that edgy ethos and culture, creating that vibe; every company has one whether bad or good.
This is where the dark side of co-working space comes into play. Its when you’re creating that vibe or ethos that you desire but do not have full control. What happens when your company ends up in a location that doesn’t share your same energy. It isn’t always that you have chosen poorly. Like I stated earlier, there are certainly lots of choices out there, more so than ever before. I have seen environments and cultures radically change due to a change within the hosts or community staff that manages the co-working space.
As a disclaimer we have only ran into this situation a couple of times over the years. Many of the community managers have appeared on our website, participated in our company outings and remain friends today. Some have not.
The staff or leaders of each community have a great impact on the success and feel of each location. The Co-Working Community Team become extensions of your office and company. They often times interact with your guests, answer telephone calls and sometimes have more impact administratively. These individuals aren’t staff that you have carefully chosen or vetted through your on-boarding process. You would have never discussed their level of pay, career goals, family dynamics, timelines or any other personal matters that impact employment, yet you are stuck with them for better or worse.
It can be frustrating to have staff members that you didn’t hire and you can’t fire!
– Todd Burkhalter
Whats the answer, unfortunately I do not have a proper end all solution. I merely have a band-aid and some potential preventative solutions.
When choosing a Co-Working Company:
- Consider one with multiple locations – This will allow you to shift little more easily day to day meetings but even if you were to experience a staff member that wasn’t a good fit.
- Ask a lot of questions – Determine how frequently they automatically change staff members to different locations. This isn’t fool proof but you can determine if there will automatically be a revolving door as opposed to the individual deciding to change positions.
- Consider Community Events – How frequently will your location be hosting community events? What type of events will be held? Ask for a list of past events. Make sure that these will not be a constant disruption and fit within themes consistent with your values and corporate dynamics.
- Consider The Networking – Ask for a list of companies that exist in the space. We have found these people will become friends, resources, potential business or clients.
- The Dark Side – One last comment regarding that staff member that just ruins your day. Work to minimize your interaction through being able to transition locations but also consider hiring your own staff person that creates a majority of the customer reception or engagement.
Though there may be some downside risk; I believe that the Co-Working or Flexible Space Model has so many positives that it out-weighs the potential Dark Side which can be cast by a Staff person who likely will not be there very long. Let’s face it when someone has a poor attitude they aren’t likely to be around long term anyways.