Shared workspaces of any size need to leverage tools to market the space, create operational efficiencies and to provide a competitive member experience. We’ve compiled a list of 2017 coworking tools and service providers, many of which specialize in shared workspace, to help you either get started or a do a review of your current providers and make sure you’re taking advantage of the latest market entrants

Covered in this post:

Space Management Tools

As flexible workspace options proliferate, and the more experience users have with a variety of spaces, the higher the bar will go for seamless onboarding, payment and member communication, all driven by technology.

Space management tool generally try to incorporate a broad range of functionality to support shared workspace operations including:

  • Billing
  • CRM
  • Member management
  • Member communication
  • WIFI access
  • Phone management
  • Door access
  • Meeting room reservations
  • Printer Management

If you are a new operator, you probably want to select a system before opening so that you don’t get stuck in the land of hacking together excel spreadsheets and running credit cards manually for longer than you intend. Choose one for launch and then you may be able to work with the company on tweaking functionality for unique operational requests.

If you are an experienced operator and you haven’t checked out the new solutions available today - they are well-worth the look. They can save your team and your service providers (bookkeepers, accountants, etc.) time that you can spend on customer acquisition and retention activities.

Providers include:

Other options focusing on coworking spaces:

Inbound Lead Generators for Meeting Rooms and Memberships

Organic SEO and even paid search can be your best investment, but also consider leveraging the shared space online marketplaces that are also investing in digital marketing to play matchmaker for shared workspace users and providers. Most of them will charge a referral fee or take a % of each transaction which you can consider a marketing expense. You can list with every one of them if you’d like. Just keep track and be sure to update all of your listings as pricing, availability, etc. change.

Inbound Lead Generators for Virtual Offices

As mentioned above, you are in great shape if you can drive your own leads into your marketing funnel but generally you’ll build your business more quickly if you get leads from marketing engines that spend all day getting leads for these services. Consider listing with the providers below. You can list with one or all of them.

A few notes about building a virtual mail business...it takes time, but it compounds over time. Start early, be consistent and patient and your efforts will pay off.

Live Answering Services (Phone and Webchat)

In November 2016, the GWA conducted a phone survey to 295 coworking spaces. On the first try, only 50% answered their phone. On the second attempt, 34% of calls still went to voicemail. While you may not be able to increase your staff size, answering your phone is critical to capturing customer leads. Use a live answering service to ensure that no call goes unanswered or even to voicemail. The providers below will answer your phone and you can also resell their services to your members. Your members are in the same position - to be competitive, you need to be available when your customers want to interact.

Marketing Tools

 

  • Meet Edgar - If you create original content and you are list-building, this will be the best $49 you spend all month. Even if you are just trying to keep your social feeds full and pre-scheduled, you will see the value in time saved. It allows you to create a categorized content library that drips content into your social feeds.
  • Hootsuite - A dashboard to manage your social media accounts in one place
  • Find Workspaces (GWA Member) - Keyword rank reporting, Google My Business Optimization, monthly reporting on clicks to website, request for directions, etc.
  • Upcity - a DIY approach to all of the SEO basics - a must-do if your website is new and has never been submitted to directors, speed-tested, etc. Sign up for the “agencygro” plan at $75/month.
  • Leadpages - Easily set up lead capture forms on your website
  • SumoMe - Another easy way to set up lead capture forms on your website

Team Communication Tools

  • Asana - You may manage some team communication through your CRM in terms of assigning client/member-related to-dos but for other projects and daily tasks, try Asana. Organize by project, assign tasks to team members, assign due dates, make comments on projects as they evolve - and keep all if it out of your email inbox!
  • Slack - If you’re not using this yet, most of your members/clients are! Slack has 4 million DAILY average users. Percentage of Fortune 500 companies using slack: 77%. (stats sourced from here).

Community Engagement Tools

  • Grouplu (GWA Member) - Community engagement is a top priority goal for many shared workspaces. It takes commitment, culture and the right tools to develop a strong community. Grouplu is a platform designed to help you build and engage communities. It offers a news feed, member directory, event manager, surveys and a knowledge base.
  • Bisner - This community engagement platform is designed to help coworking space managers reinvent the social side of coworking and bring your community online. The platform helps to stimulate discussions, organize events, and make announcements.

Cloud Printing

ThinPrint Cloud Services (GWA Member) Cloud-based, mobile, driverless printing. Enough said.

IT Services

Not really a tool but a service that you may need to help you manage your technology!

Imagit (GWA Member) Based in Chicago, Imagit has supported shared workspaces across the country. They can manage your multi-site deployments, upgrades, and refreshes with aggressive timelines and during off-hours.

Entry Access

Entry systems have gone through recent technological breakthroughs. The latest technology allows you to assign access remotely to a user’s iphone. Technology allows you to track how long a user is in the space if during unstaffed hours. Gives you the flexibility to support non-business hour conference room use which our meeting room brokers above will tell you is a big revenue opportunity.

Providers:

Small Business Insurance

Most shared workspace agreements require a member to have their own business insurance policy. This generally is to set a limit on the liability of the space operator whose insurance will not cover the personal property of a member/client in case of theft, fire, etc. The challenge is that your agreement may require a member to sign off on having insurance but you probably don’t have a good process for enforcing that. You won’t see a need to enforce it until you have an issue.

Coverwallet is a service that provides an operational process for you to collect insurance certificates and it also offers your member/client an easy way to get a quote on business insurance if they don’t have it. You get what you need and your member/client feels like you’re solving a problem for them.

Custom Scents

The next time you walk into a W (The Hyatt and the W Hotel are good examples), notice the scent - you get into the lobby or the elevator and you could, without opening your eyes, identify your location. They have custom, branded scents that are distinct and memorable. Melissa Marsh, Executive Director of Plastarc, presents extensively on designing for the 5 senses and the importance of including scent as an experience-enhancer. You can listen to my podcast interview with her here. Yankee Candle Scent Systems develops custom fragrances for retail, hospitality and shared workspaces. Want to be more memorable on a tour? Get yourself an on-brand scent for your entryway.


Have a tool or service provider that you’d like me to add to the list? Send me a note: jamie@globalworkspace.org

Responses

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  1. Carel Talens

    HI Jamie,
    Great piece, but I am missing Bisner….would be great if we can be part of the 2017 Coworking Tools list as well. We have been working really hard to improve and enhance the Bisner Platform. Would love to touch base sometime to show you where we are today and where we are going.

  2. Bruce

    Thanks for posting the list! I’d also add email and marketing automation solutions. These days they are important equally to small businesses and corporation. My favourite tool is GetResponse.

  3. Dennis Lankes

    This is a great list of available tools but if I could I would like to add one more, Proximity Space Coworking Software. We are a coworking software and hardware built by coworking spaces. Proximity Space is helping coworking spaces manage their space and its members in over 20 different cities to date and growing.

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  5. Jordan Gilman

    Great article Jamie. I wanted to add our platform, PeopleVine for Coworking, to the list of software. We’re an all-in-one platform focused on membership, billing, portal and engagement for Coworking and Incubator type businesses. Learn more at https://peoplevine.com/coworking to see what we can do for your space.

    *I work for PeopleVine and this is my personal view.

  6. Shishir Singh

    Good compilation. I would like to add one more to the list of coworking management tools called CoworkingNext. It deserve a mention in the list too since none of the tools mentioned have a free tier for new and smaller coworking spaces whereas CoworkingNext has a forever free plan – https://www.coworkingnext.com/