Prevent Staff Turnover Part 2: Coworking Staff Allocation
This is Part 2 in a two part series called Prevent Staff Turnover. See Part 1: Coworking Staff Compensation here.
“Who are all these people and what are they all doing?”
Just as too many pages and too much content on your website will ruin your website experience, too many staff will consume all your revenue and cause a lot of confusion. The most successful spaces I’ve found focus relentlessly on staff efficiency and effectiveness. You do not need a manager for every part of your business (community, events, operations, marketing, etc.).
First, having too many people is expensive as hell and results in the problem described in Part 1 of this series, in which you can only pay people low wages because you have to hire other people to cover the gaps in your business.
What’s more, having additional staff means more management, more deliberation on issues that arise, and confusion about each person’s responsibility. Especially in the beginning, coworking roles are more fluid than traditional roles at other companies. Instead of arguing about who needs to do what, your staff needs to be working. This means their roles need to be clearly defined and this is almost impossible to do until 3 to 6 months after launch, once your team has enough experience to to know what actually needs to be done in the first place.
Get More Done With Less People
In the beginning, focus on hiring good people (as well as compensating with equity and autonomy as discussed in Part 1) and have them cover larger portions of the business. Pay them more than you would if their role was split, but less than the two separate salaries combined. For example, if you were going to have a Community Manager and Events Manager, paying each $40,000/year, instead offer the combined position (Community and Events Manager) $55,000-65,000/year to do both. Consider giving this team member a budget for 1 or 2 part time employees or contract workers to prevent burnout, and allow them to take time off when needed.
There’s a trend among expanding coworking spaces (spaces growing to multiple locations) toward splitting roles and paying lower wages. For them, this makes some sense because many have effective methodologies developed and share best practices among the whole organization. For you, if you’re just starting, you don’t have that luxury. Your initial team will be figuring things out on the fly and you need to compensate them for that (again, remember that equity can be a great tool here in lieu of cash).
How many staff do you need?
This depends largely on your business model and the scope of each revenue stream. If you want to do $100,000+ in event revenue this year then, yes, you should absolutely hire a full time Event Manager. However, if your events are only for attracting prospective members, you should be able to rely on your Community Manager to source events that attract members. (I’m publishing a comprehensive guide all about events as a member acquisition strategy that will be released in the coming weeks. It discusses specific tactics to maximize member leads from events, how to source or organize various types of events, and how to market them. Best of all it will be a free downloadable for subscribers.)
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, sometimes 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.
Focus on hiring a smaller team, compensate them well, give them ownership and autonomy, and you’ll see very positive results.
Of course, all of this rests on your ability to hire good people, which is something I can help with. Get in touch with me at [email protected] if you need help hiring your team.