Coworking is a growing trend for entrepreneurs, freelancers, and telecommuters who want to enjoy some of the perks of an office environment while still setting their own schedule. A coworking space provides resources for a diverse collection of members. This means providing basic technology like phone and Internet service for a widely unknown range of uses. Here’s how to make it work.
Offer Bandwidth for the Building’s Capacity
A coworking space will typically have a different number of workers every day. Some days you may see only two or three people, while others could have your space filled to capacity. Equip your office with enough bandwidth to support the maximum number of people you can accommodate in the space. You don’t want to leave your members feeling frustrated with slow Internet speeds if there are more than five people in a space built for 20.
If you’re struggling to fill the seats in your coworking space, at least arrange for an Internet connection that’s strong enough to support all your paying members. Perhaps your new office space has the potential to host 30 people at a time, but you only have 10 members right now. Set up a system that will support 15 and chose a provider with the flexibility for easy upgrades. As your coworking space grows in popularity, you can upgrade simply to keep up with members’ needs.
Provide Specialized Work Spaces
A coworking environment should cater to the needs of many different types of professionals. While most people will require little more than a desk, electrical outlet, and Internet connection, you can draw more members by offering some specialized spaces. Set aside a conference room that’s equipped for meetings and video conferencing. Supply a separate phone line and teleconferencing equipment for this space, and check with your Internet provider to make sure you have adequate bandwidth for a clear connection.
Secure Your Space
Security is an important concern for professionals in all industries. Whether you choose a business Internet connection, IP VPN, Ethernet, or T1 system, it’s crucial that you speak with your provider about security measures. Make all your security provisions public so members of your coworking space know how much protection they have and how it works. With this information in hand, they can add their own protections on their personal devices as they see fit.
Consider Phone Needs Carefully
Your telephone needs for a coworking space will probably be very different from those in a typical workspace. The office manager needs a phone line so members can reach out and reserve their time slots or ask questions. As mentioned previously, a separate phone line for conferencing is helpful as well. Poll your members to determine what additional services will best meet their needs.
Chances are that most of your members will bring their personal cell phones into the office. You may find your resources are better spent expanding bandwidth so members can use the office’s Wi-Fi on their personal devices than it is setting up a large number of phone lines that will go unused.
If you don’t have a dedicated office manager in the building, however, make sure you have a phone system in place that makes it possible for the owner to take calls related to the business wherever they are. You can accomplish this with a phone system that routes incoming calls to a home phone or cell phone, so you’re reachable whether you’re in the coworking office yourself or not.
Managing a coworking space presents many unique challenges, but this budding industry offers excellent opportunities for profit. If you have the right facilities available, you can sell memberships to a broad range of professionals who will appreciate the unique office space and technology solutions that you offer.