Your Greatest Tool is Your Workspace

Outside the home, people spend more time at work than any other space. The average full-time employee spends over 8 hours a day working or commuting to work. With so much of our daily activities consumed by work, these spaces must add value to our daily lives. An excellent office space is productive, functional, adaptive, and inviting. These factors put together, create an engaging place that people want to work. How do you know if your workspace is actually working for you?

1) Office spaces should stimulate work.

An open desk floor is distracting for high-performing individuals tackling complex problems, while a tight office stifles collaborative brainstorming sessions. The spaces must function for the task at hand and not inhibit the daily activities. Think adaptive furniture that can group together or wheel apart, moving walls to open up spaces or provide privacy, or designated areas for certain types of activity levels. Give workers some flexibility to choose where they are working on a given task. Noise level matters, too. Some offices thrive on a lounge-like noise level, while others prefer soft pink noise. Depending on your needs, consider creating quiet zones for when workers need to concentration.

2) Office spaces mirror business needs.

No two businesses have the same space needs. Take an engineering firm. It’s likely the employees need places to meet with clients, for small-team collaborative meetings, and quiet areas with the tech tools for individual work. Compare to a photographer, who needs an open space for shoots and a private place to edit.

The workspace should reflect its use. For most businesses, a range of space is needed: places for highly focused individual tasks, places for partner or small-team collaboration, and larger meeting spaces. Harvard Business Review covers how to evaluate your business’ workplace needs for better functionality.

3) Office spaces need tech tools.

We’re a mobile, flexible workforce. The modern workforce expects to “plugin” whether in a coffee lounge or at a desk. Power and Wi-fi access are the top two needs to get work done, but there are other considerations depending on the unique business needs: better lighting, printing, copying, audio/visual display, et al. Equip your spaces with the right technology to get work done.

4) Office spaces must be accessible.

People want to find you. Find an easily accessible workspace. Nothing raises blood pressure like waiting in traffic, hunting for parking, and rushing to the front door to be on time. Offices need enough parking to meet its purpose, for employees and clients. Some workspace locations may want to consider bike-friendly access and storage.

5) Office spaces should inspire.

People spend hours a day in their workplace. Shouldn’t the office space be inviting? A workspace doesn’t have to be a sterile environment, but you don’t necessarily need to add game rooms to jazz things up. Spruce up the office with natural lighting, greenery, and comfortable furniture. Check out these examples that provide offices can have functionality, flexibility, and beautiful design. Those movable dividing walls? Perhaps they’re made of recycled wood or function as a “living wall.” Workplaces close to amenities, like parks, walkways, or restaurant help, too.

Don’t skimp on finding the right workspace. Thoughtfully designed workplaces inspire people, retain talent, and attract new employees. When the office design functions for business needs, employees are more productive and satisfied with their work.

What is a Community Manager?

I’ve been working at SharedSpace for the better part of a year now as our Community Manager. When I started, I had no idea what that title meant or what my day-to-day would look like. I had a loose understanding of coworking and was excited to help a startup grow while working in a diverse space composed of multiple fields and companies, however, I did not anticipate playing so many distinct roles. Working at a coworking space, nevertheless a startup, guarantees that every day is different, meaning I’m constantly being pulled in different directions and working on various projects.

So what fits under the umbrella of a Community Manager? What are my main roles at SharedSpace?

Operations:

Maintaining day-to-day operations is the key role of a Community Manager. A coworking space is a business offering services to professionals, so it’s important to collect and distribute the mail, answer the phone, water the plants, keep track of inventory, order and refill supplies as needed, constantly clean and organize the kitchen, conference rooms, and open workspaces.

Sales:

It’s my job to give scheduled tours to potential members and be prepared for walk-ins at any point in the day. After a tour, it is crucial to follow up with the lead, answer any questions, and keep in touch over email to invite them back into the space for promotions or a free trial day.

Customer service:

Without our lovely members, SharedSpace wouldn’t exist. We value flexibility and hospitality above everything else, and therefore, we must cater to our members’ needs.  A daily part of working in a coworking space is interacting with members and assisting them whether it be with the coffee machine, printer, booking conference rooms, AV setup, or tech issues. I also act as a receptionist, greeting members and directing guests when they get off the elevator and assisting with payments and membership management.

Marketing:

To get people into the space, they need to hear about us first, right? Everyone finds everything on the internet these days, so if you want to run successful business, you need to be on all social media platforms. When members and guests don’t need my immediate attention, I’m updating the content on our website and other marketing materials, writing blog posts, and posting on our Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter.

Fostering a community:

Our top priority in running a coworking space is cultivating a community. As “community” is in the title of my position, I am expected to bring our members together. I take the time to talk to members, learn their names, and get to know them. Fostering a coworking community also includes planning and executing events, marketing for the events, and encouraging members to attend. In addition to hosting events, I post a “Community Spotlight” on our blog every few weeks, which is a brief interview featuring a SharedSpace member. I send these out in our weekly emails, as well as post the links on social media, to promote members’ businesses and give our members a chance to learn about each other.

Most of my responsibilities and tasks fit under this neat umbrella, however, I feel like my role is constantly evolving. If you ask me again in a few months I’m sure this list will have expanded. Although a concise job description doesn’t exist as a Community Manager, working in a startup coworking space has taught me to be autonomous, patient, adaptable, and innovative in my position. This job is truly what you make it.

 

Community Spotlight: SignStream

1. How did you start SignStream and what exactly do you offer?

Having been a Creative Marketer/Designer for over 15 years, I was very familiar with the challenges and outdated methods of implementing digital signage.  Cost of screens, hardware, software, and management, the challenge of strategizing content and execution, on top of having the time to dedicate to all of the above….it was a mess! After finding the right technologies and aligning them on our platform, I wanted to create an experience that makes it easy to use TV screens as a means of instant communication. And just wait until there are more touch screens around…

Engagement with customers is key and digital signage attracts more eyes than anything else out there; it is as simple as that. The fact that business owners could not effectively and easily take advantage of this made it clear to me that there was a need in the business world for SignStream.net. We have made it super simple to install, manage, and get the most out of TV screens. The addition of our Smart TV app on the Samsung app store to our ecosystem gives our users the ability to add screens as they need without any special set up or training.

In addition to communicating their own message, our marketplace makes sharing content and ads between businesses. Local businesses are able to make any ad public and allow other users to add it to their channel for free or assign a budget to provide incentive to add it to their channel. Funds are distributed evenly to users based on usage/time on screens.

We offer businesses a custom media channel that can be displayed on any number of screens or browsers allowing them to deliver custom content such as ads, images, videos, social media feeds, and other internet content. Users sign up for free at Signstream.net to create a channel and can view it on any chrome browser. We provide strategy, installation, and maintenance of digital signage communication and screens.

Still not sure what we are talking about? Check out our demo channel, featuring the awesome SharedSpace President, Mike Everts, at demo.signstream.net (set to full screen in chrome desktop browser).

2. What are the biggest challenges you face as an entrepreneur?

Putting myself out there. As a designer, I’m used to sitting at my desk with noise cancelling headphones on and communicating with wide audiences in a visual manner. While my skills as a designer and marketer have helped me in many ways with presentations and execution, it’s challenging sometimes to remember that I have to stop tweaking. In order for the business to succeed I have to really put myself out there, talk about it, and sell it myself.

3. What kind of changes are you seeing within the digital signage industry?

Like most businesses, a lack of knowledge in the marketplace. Most people take digital signage for granted. Sure, when done right, it should be seamless in the environment but the whole point is that it naturally attracts attention. Regardless of the content, most people are attracted to bright lights (and shiny objects) so anything you put on a screen will improve the end customer experience- that’s why places put the news on mute (if you know anybody doing this PLEASE let us know so we can save their clients from the misery and treachery of today’s headlines), in the hopes that a better experience will lead to increased spending.

4. What do you like most about working out of SharedSpace?

That’s really a tough one; I’ve been a member since it was just a few offices occupying half the 5th floor in Dunwoody, and the expansion and growth have been insane!!! Every time I come in I’m impressed with something, whether it’s the true passion for decent coffee, relaxed while highly professional environment, or just the friendly faces that are always working hard on the next big thing.

5. What advice would you give to any budding Atlanta entrepreneurs?

NETWORK. NETWORK. NETWORK. When you get an email from some random person who has nothing to do with your business and you can’t figure out why they want to meet- don’t even think twice, take the meeting! Business is sometimes like love in that you have to give it a chance and you never know when the perfect deal will appear out of nowhere. If you work alone but take meetings, find a co-working space you enjoy spending time in so that you stay social and enjoy getting up and going to work in the morning. Added Bonus TIP: Having a team of people to share your success and failures with makes all the difference in the world. We love SharedSpace!!!

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