21 February 2011 ~ 13 Comments

Hello, is there anybody here?

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

Boulder, Colorado
www.boulderdigitalarts.com

  • http://www.booksonthenightstand.com AnnKingman

    Thanks, Bruce. We’ve been wrestling with this as we plan our space. Both of us have other jobs; mine is often offsite, and my husband’s is managing the building of which the coworking space will be part. As such, he won’t always be at the front desk (though will be in range w/a call). We were thinking of having appointments or set hours for tours and intros. Would you find that off-putting?

    • Bruce

      Not at all; in fact, many places that I toured in SF had that as a main button right on their homepage. I think it’s a great sales tool; and encourages people to make a commitment to come on down and check your space out. I think it’s a great starting point…

      Bruce Borowsky
      Boulder Digital Arts
      http://www.boulderdigitalarts.com/coworking
      Boulder, Colorado

      • http://www.booksonthenightstand.com AnnKingman

        Phew. Thanks. Hadn’t thought of it as a sales tool, but you’re right.

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