Before we opened our coworking space here at Boulder Digital Arts, I headed out of state to check on some other coworking spaces to see how they do it. Overall, I was highly impressed, but I definitely noticed some things that I quickly made note of, to be sure our members didn’t have a similar experience. I’d like to focus on just one in this post.
The single biggest thing I encountered that bothered me was walking into a space where there wasn’t a person to greet me, or even acknowledge my presence. Though most places had a front-counter person who greeted me with an enthusiastic smile, and was ready to show me around; there were several spaces where I walked in and: nothing.
I never knew what to do: is it okay to just walk around? Is it okay to walk through and ask someone I see at a desk way in the back some questions, even though they appear to be a paying coworker and hard at work? I found it very disconcerting. I imagined that if I was a possible paying client, I wouldn’t be very excited about this place. For me, it set a precedent for how the place must be overall: not attentive to their users’ needs, coworkers will probably be interrupted by people walking in asking questions, etc.
Inevitably-I’d walk around, in the hope that someone might notice me and start talking to me, but no–nothing. Not even the coworkers, who were busy working (and I don’t blame them – it’s not their job!). At many places I encountered the owners acting as front-counter people, which seemed to make sense. They were the first line of contact to a potential customer, and they were the most appropriate people to talk to. A perfect place for their “office” was right at the entrance. However, if your budget does not allow for a dedicated front-counter person, there are many other ways to make it happen: an intern from a local college, a coworker who would be interested in trading out for a space, etc.
Please consider how important a front-counter person is to your coworking space’s success. In one sense, it’s just great customer service. In another sense, it’s a great sales tool. Last, it assures current and potential coworkers that they will not be constantly bothered by inquisitive guests.
image credit (of no particular coworking space): drewnoakes
Bruce Borowsky, Co-Founder
Boulder Digital Arts