Coworking Roles and Their Proper Functions

Coworking Roles and Their Proper Functions

Coworking spaces all over the world have a hard time putting people in the right places. Recently I’ve been tweeting about how spaces often incorrectly put their bizdev people in operations positions and vice versa. Both are terrible mistakes and are a product of the startup mindset that “anybody can and should do anything and everything”.

Yes, coworking spaces are startups in a sense. It is important for all team members to remain flexible. However, people underperform in roles they are not experienced in or in which they aren’t naturally talented. What follows is a simple breakdown of common coworking roles and my descriptions of what they ought to be responsible for and what ongoing work they should be engaged in.

In another article, I’ll outline a few organizational models that can be used to set up your coworking space staffing structure.

By no means should this list be considered a “complete” or “proper” staff allocation. This is merely a list of roles that could be in your coworking space. The size, goals, and revenue channels of your space will dictate what’s needed and this list should help you decide.

Senior Leadership

CEO/COO/Director – This role is best filled by a generalist with great management and leadership capabilities. Usually the person in this role is better or more experienced in one of the core areas of a coworking business: operations, marketing, events, or member/community management. Having more skill or more of an inclination in one of these areas is fine, so long as the other areas don’t suffer from a lack of attention on their respective staff and strategies. In coworking brands with multiple locations there is often a CEO and/or a COO at the company level with Directors in charge of individual locations. The core responsibilities of this person include:

  • Building valuable partnerships
  • People Management
  • Fundraising (investment, sponsorship, etc.)
  • Location Expansion and Growth Strategy
  • Filling in for any gaps in staffing needs

Community Partnerships Manager/Business Development Manager – This role mostly takes on the partnership-building work from the Director, though with much more focus. They should be connected in the local community and experienced in the business areas you want to develop. They should also be incredibly personable and able to think strategically about connecting the resources in the greater community to the needs of the coworking space. Often operates as a right hand to the Director, but with little interaction with the rest of the staff. The goal here is to serve the needs of the team and space, not create partnerships that require additional staff time or resources. The core responsibilities of this person include:

  • Partner research and development
  • Networking
  • Partner management
  • Corporate and Community Sponsorships

Operations

Operations Manager/Director – Generally this position is filled by a technical, strategic and hands-on person with experience in IT, facilities, systems thinking, and sometimes people management and software development. At the manager/director level, the operations role usually has at least one support staff underneath them or a group of volunteers/work-traders who help with ongoing space operations. The core responsibilities of this person include:

  • IT Systems Maintenance (CRM, network reliability, software integrations, etc.)
  • Facilities Management
  • Policy/Procedure Development (often with help from Community Manager)
  • Managing Operations Staff
  • Security and Access Management Systems Maintenance

Operations Coordinator – This position is filled by a technical and hands-on person with experience in IT and facilities maintenance. It’s acceptable for this person to double as the front desk associate. The core responsibilities of this person include:

  • IT Systems Maintenance
  • Facilities Maintenance
  • Security and Access Management Systems Maintenance

Member Management

Community Manager – This role is best filled by an extrovert and hyper-networker that loves people and building relationships. This person often has experience in hospitality or the service industry, typically with management experience. Even if no staff are managed by the Community Manager, management experience will help balance the often conflicting role that members play in a coworking space; that of customer and office coworker. A Community Manager’s sole purpose is to manage, improve, and exploit relationships in the coworking space to keep a harmonious environment, create member-to-member and member-to-partner connections, and thus create a “stickiness factor” so members keep coming back. The core responsibilities of this person include:

  • Membership Sales Strategy
  • Hosting member gatherings (dinners, breakfasts, happy hours, clubs, etc.)
  • Member Policy Development and Enforcement
  • Creating the space “vibe” (a general awesome feeling that resonates with your members)
  • Member Communication Strategy
  • Billing Dispute Resolution
  • All Assistant Community Manager duties if there isn’t one on the team

Assistant Community Manager – This role is often a hybrid of hospitality and service, combined with operations. This person has experience in hospitality, but not management experience. They do a lot of the “grunt work” or execution of tasks at the direction of the Community Manager or Director while those roles are focused on systematizing and expanding the coworking space’s capabilities. The core responsibilities of this person include:

  • Member Signups
  • Member Communication
  • Tours
  • Introducing new members to the community and facilitating connections
  • Some facilities maintenance (esp. if there is no operational role present)
  • Can double as the Front Desk Associate

Front Desk Associate – Simply put, this role sits at the front desk for security and to create a welcoming feeling when entering the space. They must have experience in office reception, as an administrative assistant, or something similar. This role is critical for first impressions. Must be friendly and energetic, but polite. The core responsibilities of this person include:

  • Screening for members/non members (assuming no technical solution is implemented)
  • Greeting guests and informing members of guest arrival
  • Accepting packages and sorting mail
  • Opening and closing space daily
  • Keeping kitchen area up (brewing coffee, loading/unloading dishwasher, etc.)
  • Keeping space tidy throughout the day

Events

Event Manager – This position is best filled by a strategic thinker and partnership builder with strong local roots and a local network. Experience in event management and community partnership building is critical. Having solid local roots is a must in this role for newer coworking spaces. A longer-standing coworking space with a reputation can hire a non-local that doesn’t have a network because the new hire can leverage the space’s existing network for event and partner outreach. This person plans and executes content-driven experiences that inspire members to join the coworking space. The core responsibilities of this person include:

  • Event Planning and Events Strategy (what types of events to get what results?)
  • Content/Event Partnership Building and Networking
  • Event Logistics and Execution
  • Expanding event space capabilities and quality
  • All Event Coordinator duties if there isn’t one on the team

Event Coordinator – This role is a friendly and energetic pair of hands that can execute any event. The core responsibilities of this person include:

  • Space setup and teardown
  • Organizing catering and entertainment
  • Greeting attendees and performing attendee checkins
  • Testing and running A/V equipment
  • Event Rentals

Marketing

Marketing Manager – One of the rarer roles at most coworking spaces, and most spaces suffer for it. The Marketing Manager communicates the vision and “vibe” of the space to the public. They strategize and execute marketing campaigns with the help of the Director, Community Manager, and Events Manager. Experience in growth hacking, content marketing, digital and print advertising, and design are all great. At minimum this person needs good design skills, great copywriting skills, and enough technical expertise to learn new techniques and automate marketing efforts. Good marketers are difficult to come by. The core responsibilities of this person include:

  • Marketing Strategy Development
  • Online Marketing (social media, content marketing, advertising, blogging, etc.)
  • Print Marketing (flyers, brochures, exterior signage and murals, etc.)
  • Design
  • Copywriting

None of these role descriptions are comprehensive. In other articles I’ll talk about each role in extreme detail, including workflows, tools of the trade, and more.

Need help or have something to say?

I’d love to hear from you. If you have any specific questions or disagree with anything here, shoot me an email at [email protected]. I’d love to chat and help in any way I can.

Ryan Chatterton
[email protected]

Ryan is the founder of Coworking Insights, a coworking media platform focused on delivering unique and in-depth insights for coworking founders and their teams. He’s the Marketing Director at Habu, a quickly growing coworking management platform that is simple, fast, and intuitive for managing recurring billing, bookings, and other admin tasks. Formerly with Impact Hub and PARISOMA, Ryan now has over 4 years of combined experience in a variety of roles in the coworking industry, including marketing, events, operations, sales, software, and partnerships. He’s a digital nomad and a lover of wine and tacos.

3 Comments
  • Coworking Insights | Prevent Staff Turnover Part 1: Coworking Staff Compensation
    Posted at 22:17h, 10 February Reply

    […] I’ve written about proper resource allocation for coworking spaces and I’ve written about the proper roles and responsibilities for those roles in a coworking space. […]

  • Coworking Insights | Prevent Staff Turnover Part 2: Coworking Staff Allocation
    Posted at 22:34h, 10 February Reply

    […] Coworking space teams scale relatively well as membership grows. A space with 200 members shouldn’t need more than 3 FTEs. In fact WeWork handles 700+ members with 3 staff members (though keep in mind they do have facilities, ops, and technology teams which are shared among the multitude of locations). In the beginning you only need two critical roles filled, operations and community. Operations takes care of facilities, technology, sometime billing, etc. and your community person takes care of marketing, sales, and customer service. Both are strategic roles, but both are also hands-on roles. There’s no room for “idea people” in the beginning; everybody’s hands should get dirty. See more on coworking roles here. […]

  • Coworking Insights | The Only Job is All the Jobs
    Posted at 14:09h, 23 November Reply

    […] Maybe a small team also, but there’s usually one person on the team who ends up taking on all the work nobody wants to do. It’s the nature of people to latch onto projects that seem cool and do […]

Post A Comment

#Follow us on Instagram