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Will Data Transparency Affect How Members Choose Coworking Spaces?

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By Rubin Beckner, Director of Marketing for Vast Coworking Group™

Concerns about information security are real and unavoidable these days. Data breaches are extremely rare in our industry, but any time you share space with many different people and business entities, you have to wonder how proprietary information about your business or customers will be kept private. Data transparency – being informed about what is being collected and how it is managed and protected – has become incredibly important and can be a deal-breaker in choosing a coworking space.

At its heart, data transparency is about trust. We often find that members who trust they are in good hands with us not only stay much longer but are also the most engaged. They contribute most to the community and become our biggest advocates, leading to additional direct word-of-mouth referrals.

When Data Is King, Security Rules

In the digital world, we often hear that “content is king.” But data drives content, and there is a stunning amount of data out there that’s up for grabs if it’s not protected. According to Cloudwards, an information hub covering online security issues, Google processes 40,000 search queries every second – 3.5 billion searches per day and 1.2 trillion per year. And that’s just Google.

This wasn’t always a concern for coworking providers and their members. For the legacy coworking market, which was heavily comprised of entrepreneurs, startups and digital nomads, data transparency wasn’t usually at the top of their list of deciding factors when choosing a provider.

But it is often top-of-mind today, with the influx of the remote corporate user of flex space. Enterprise flex customers value actionable data so they can more effectively manage their real estate portfolio budgets. They also use data to support employee engagement and increase retention of their remote workers.

Data protection isn’t limited to digital tools that keep information in and hackers out. Many of our locations offer privatized internet connectivity and sometimes even rack space for companies to bring in their own servers. But we can also give more private solutions to those who need them: private offices rather than shared desk space; privacy glass or office window coverings; document shredding services and stations.

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A view of a coworking space.

The most sophisticated security systems in the world won’t matter if members don’t know what you’re doing to protect them. Here are some simple ways you can make them feel secure.

Tips for Transparency

  • Communicate clearly and thoroughly. At Vast Coworking Group, we outline our privacy information in our membership Terms & Conditions and address any concerns they may have during the onboarding process.
  • Be upfront about how you will use that data; ultimately, use it to directly improve the member experience. If that’s not the reason you want the information, why ask for it?
  • Find a balance in the information you request. Ask for enough to create the best hospitality-infused experience for members but try not to overdo it so it feels intrusive. Many flex space operators ask for more than they need; the information sits dormant and isn’t utilized to improve the member experience. This is when data requests can feel more intrusive to members.
  • Similarly, you don’t want to over-complicate things by providing too much information, which can make the prospective member overthink when coming to a final decision about joining you.
  • If a breach does occur, be honest with your members. It’s best to venture on the side of caution here and be completely upfront, transparent and truthful. Advise your location staff to send out direct communication to all members who may be affected. This can be an email to all members and sometimes a printed memo posted visibly onsite or hand delivered. The message should include a summary of what happened, who may be affected by the breach, recommendations on what they should do and what steps are being taken to ensure it doesn’t happen again.

Members want to know their data is safe, of course. But as with so many other concerns, what matters is that they know how you handle their information day to day and what steps you’re taking to protect it. If they understand your procedures, they’re more likely to sign on with you – and stay with you.

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About Author

Rubin Beckner is the Director of Marketing for Vast Coworking Group™, the world’s largest coworking franchise company, comprised of shared workspace concepts Venture X®, Office Evolution® and Intelligent Office. Vast Coworking is a division of the United Franchise Group (UFG) family of affiliated brands and consultants. The Vast network is building and connecting consumer-focused brands to help meet the rapidly growing worldwide demand for flexible office space.

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