In the beginning.
When previously-unaffiliated people and businesses first started sharing workspaces (or aka coworking), a lot of memberships, marketing and sales were done pretty much “by hand” in spreadsheets. Or even using a real pen and paper.
Whilst some software did exist, there were tonnes of barriers like price, learning curves and the flexibility of functionality. But with a just-get-it-done attitude and a passion to build creative communities and figure out the boring stuff later, operators forged on, and we as a movement salute them for their heroic effort.
Pretty quickly some workspace operators began turning their SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures) into little programs or sets-of-tools. As the flex workspace sector matured, it also attracted more and more software developers and entrepreneurs.
With more and more spaces opening, and demand for shared or flexible workspaces increasing rapidly around the world, some of these tools, systems and platforms were shared with other spaces in-kind or for profit.
Then coworking software stopped 'sucking' so much.
Around 2017, coworking software was starting to hit the right notes with new and existing workspace operators.
I know this because in an unconference session I co-led at the Coworking Europe Conference that year, a single comment stuck in my mind: “Coworking software doesn’t suck anymore“.
Coworking software vendors also created a new PropTech (Property Technology) category, and began expanding the types of workspaces they support, and the functionality, capital backing and expertise they could deploy into their platforms.
Then came integrations.
In the 3 years since then, software platforms began to nail the business ops side and focus shifted towards improving both the TeX (Tenant Experience) and the ways that coworking software could connect or integrate with other systems.
From developing and designing beautifully useful member portals, to integrating those with member perks platforms and hardware, mail, membership management and marketing platforms – it seems like everything has starting ‘talking’ to each other.
And that lay the foundations for automations.
So what comes next, is automation. And by that I mean, working towards removing as many work hours as possible from the processes that shouldn’t require a human’s touch.
Doing so allows team members to do the important things like empathetically reading situation and responding to changes in community culture, or taking the time to learn more about prospective members to make sure they get the full benefits of a community, neighbourhood or workspace.
Whilst integration is definitely the correct first steps, I truly believe that workspace ops automation will forever change the game for both workspace operators, and for decision-makers in the new or emerging sectors that are only now starting to understand how flexible workspaces can unlock their teams’ efficiencies in unprecedented* ways.
Automation also enables workspaces to experiment for longer-terms with new platforms and further reaching campaigns, as the implementation and maintenance time rapidly approaches zero.
So, whilst software builds upon the foundations of community workspaces, and integrations allows more systems to talk… it is automation that will make them all sing.
From theory, to action.
Having worked with 100s of coworking space operators around the world since 2013, I’ve been told an immeasurable number of times about the time-vs-function struggles of the management and marketing teams.
It’s what drove me to blog about one area of automation that directly affects the sustainability of individual workspaces, and the sector as a whole.
That blog post led to the formation of Syncaroo, where our dev team have been hard at work throughout the pandemic, building the first ever plug-and-play data-syncing automation for the global flexible workspace market.
Having had an early look at the next beta, I’m so excited about how the tech will not only free up hundreds of work hours of busy-work, but also about what it will mean for even more potential customers to be able to reliably get the latest information and pricing – without an ounce of extra effort from already-overstretched workspace operators.
If you’re interested in learning more about Syncaroo, or getting your hands on the unreleased beta, do get in touch.
*Hey, it’s 2020, I don’t even think I’m allowed to write a blog post without dropping the word ‘unprecedented’ into it. Right?
Also thanks to NESA by Makers for the header image.