In our recent webinar, “Coworking Success Stories: From Startups to Giants,” we had the pleasure of hosting three industry leaders who shared their invaluable insights on scaling coworking spaces. Sarah Travers, CEO of Workbar, and Chris Smith, CRO of Thrive Coworking, joined us to discuss their experiences and strategies for growth in the coworking industry.

They were joined by our Samantha Kenney, CMO, OfficeRnD who expertly moderated this webinar.

Introduction to the Panelists

webinar speakers

Chris Smith, Chief Revenue Officer at Thrive Coworking, and Sarah Travers, CEO of Workbar, both bring extensive experience and unique perspectives to the table.

 

Chris, with a background in technology and workforce performance, joined Thrive Coworking to help scale the business from three locations in 2020 to almost 20 locations today.

Sarah, on the other hand, has spent the majority of her career in coworking, starting with IWG before moving to Workbar, where she has been instrumental in expanding the brand across Massachusetts.

Samantha Kenney is an experienced B2B SaaS executive with years of experience building teams that provide tangible results.

These are just some of the strategies shared by our expert panelists. Click here to watch the entire on-demand webinar at your own pace. It’s free.

Key Insights and Strategies for Scaling

The discussion began with both panelists highlighting the importance of having a solid foundation before scaling. Here are some key strategies they shared:

People, Process, and Technology

Chris Smith emphasized the importance of aligning people, processes, and technology to ensure smooth operations and consistent member experience across locations.

Thrive Coworking focuses on creating a strong organizational culture and leveraging technology to streamline processes and enhance member experience. He noted:

We really spend a lot of time on finding who we are as a brand and who we want to be.

Defining and Maintaining Brand Identity

Both Chris and Sarah stressed the need to clearly define and maintain the brand identity as you scale. Thrive Coworking spends significant time on ensuring their locations deliver a consistent experience that resonates with their brand values.

Workbar, despite expanding to various locations, has maintained its core design and brand elements, ensuring a familiar and high-quality experience for its members.

Sarah mentioned, “Our space changes with every location we open, but the brand elements and the physical layout have stayed relatively the same.”

Effective Use of the Right Technology

Sarah Travers shared Workbar’s transition from a homegrown tech stack to partnering with OfficeRnD and integrating OfficeRnD Flex. This move allowed them to focus on their core business while leveraging specialized software to manage their coworking spaces more efficiently.

Chris also highlighted the integration of various technologies at Thrive, including AI for financial management and sales processes, to optimize operations and reduce costs. They also use OfficeRnD Flex as their coworking management software.

As Chris noted:

We used OfficeRnD Flex to make it really easy for us to replicate the onboarding of our new locations.

Leadership and Team Development

Both panelists agreed on the importance of having a lean and effective team structure. Sarah advocates for a flat organizational structure, which allows for better communication and quicker decision-making.

Chris mentioned the significance of empowering community managers and ensuring they have the tools and support needed to provide excellent service to members.

“We want people to be problem solvers with us and serve our people,” Chris stated.

Operational and Infrastructural Changes

As coworking spaces scale, they face numerous operational and infrastructural challenges. Our panelists shared their best practices for managing these changes efficiently.

Streamlining Operations

Chris discussed the importance of building a culture of measuring everything. “We obsess over process and project management, ensuring everyone is tied into that workflow,” he said.

This approach allows Thrive Coworking to track performance metrics and make data-driven decisions to enhance efficiency.

Hiring Expertise

Both Chris and Sarah emphasized the need for hiring skillful subject matter experts. Chris shared their experience with outsourcing construction management, which initially led to delays.

“We had to hire someone in-house to be our construction manager,” he revealed, underscoring the importance of having specialized knowledge within the team to manage complex projects.

Implementing Advanced Technologies

To manage the complexities of multiple locations, both Thrive and Workbar have leveraged advanced technologies. Chris once again mentioned the use of AI to assist with financial management and sales processes, reducing the need for additional staff and optimizing operations.

Evolving Leadership and Team Development

The approach to leadership and team development has also evolved as these coworking spaces have scaled.

Flattening the Organization

Sarah advocates for a flat organizational structure, which helps in staying nimble and responsive to market changes. As she explained:

I like to be close to our members and our team. We don’t have an HQ; we co-work with our members.

This approach ensures that leadership remains connected to the day-to-day operations and member experiences.

Empowering Community Managers

Chris highlighted the importance of empowering community managers to make decisions and solve problems.

As he explained:

Our community managers are the face of our business, and we want to make sure they have everything they need to delight our members.

This empowerment fosters a sense of ownership and accountability among staff, leading to better member experiences and higher retention rates.

Focusing on Member Retention and Experience

Both panelists stressed the critical role of member retention and satisfaction in driving success. Regular member surveys and feedback mechanisms are used to gauge satisfaction and identify areas for improvement.

“We want our members to be bragging about us,” Chris emphasized, highlighting the importance of delivering exceptional service and value to members.

Watch the On-Demand Webinar to Discover All the Insights

The “Coworking Success Stories: From Startups to Giants” webinar provided a wealth of insights into the strategies and challenges of scaling coworking spaces.

The experiences shared by Sarah Travers and Chris Smith* highlight the importance of a strong foundation, effective use of technology, maintaining brand identity, and focusing on member experience. These lessons are invaluable for anyone looking to grow their coworking business.

However, they shared much more, including the most important coworking KPIs they use to measure success. What are they and why are they so important? You will also learn the result of a curious poll launched during the webinar.

Don’t miss out and click here to watch the on-demand webinar at your own pace.

Thank you to everyone who joined us for the webinar. We look forward to bringing you more insights and success stories in the future. Stay tuned for more updates and future events by following us on social media.

Asen Stoyanchev
Senior Content Marketing & SEO Specialist | OfficeRnD
Asen is passionate about flexible working and the future of work. He firmly believes that work flexibility directly impacts one's health and well-being. When he's not writing, Asen spends his time devouring business literature, hiking, and parenting.