Maintaining Community While Members are Virtual: Insights from 4 Coworking Operators

Now that your members are working from home, scaling back their time in the space, or working apart from one another, how do you maintain community?

We asked four workspace operators to share a glimpse into their experience, how they’re creating virtual offerings, and what advice they’d give to other coworking owners and managers.

Susan Dorsch is co-founder of Office Nomads in Seattle, WA. Office Nomads has 103 members, zero private offices, and 10-15 events per month. Jamie Orr is co-founder of Cowork Tahoe in South Lake Tahoe, CA. and co-founder of Jellyswitch. Cowork Tahoe has 150 members, 32 offices and 8-12 events per month. Felicity Maxwell is co-founder and COO of Fibercove in Austin, TX. Fibercove has 100 members, 4 offices and 5-10 events per month.  Maya Delano is the community manager at Nextspace Coworking Santa Cruz who runs the space with community coordinator Jennifer Hamilton.  NextSpace Santa Cruz has 241 members, 26 offices, and hosts about 14 internal/public events per month. Here’s what they had to say:

[?] Cat Johnson: How are things in your space and community? What precautions have you taken around COVID-19?

Susan Dorsch: Things in Seattle are definitely tense as our region is one of the centers of the COVID-19 outbreak.

In the space and within our community, I’d say the general feeling is subdued. It’s hard in Seattle right now. But there’s also a solid undercurrent of humor and good-naturedness that is so reassuring. This outbreak and the onslaught of news about it has been hard on everyone, but I hear lots of words of encouragement between our members. While it’s a crappy thing to connect over, our members are connecting well and finding ways to at least cheer each other along in the struggle.

The precautions Office Nomads has taken thus far are:

  • Daily sanitizing of most surfaces in the space (countertops, door handles, coffee pots, our iPad for check-in, etc.)
  • Temporarily switching over to disposable towels in the bathrooms and kitchens (normally we use regular towels because we love the environment).
  • Having hand sanitizer and other cleaning supplies out at the ready for members to use.
  • Temporarily putting a pause on our food-related gatherings in the space (though we joked around about having a snack be individually wrapped cheese sticks placed at 6-foot intervals around the table.)
  • Maintaining a strong channel of communication with our members so they know all the things.

Jamie Orr: This week, we really saw things start to change in response to COVID-19. It’s quiet here. We still have people coming in, but the energy is completely different. On Monday, we established our response protocol as a team:

  • Suspended all drop-in day passes
  • Canceled and suspended any meeting room bookings from outside groups, and any events in the space
  • Placed signs everywhere reminding people of good hygiene protocols. Most of those signs are fun and encourage singing while hand washing
  • Increased our cleaning, disinfecting primary shared surfaces like handles, buttons, etc. multiple times throughout the day
  • Sent and posted notices about CDC guidelines, our procedures, etc. to all members

Felicity Maxwell: Cleaning stations, extra hand soap, spot cleaning of common surfaces. 

NextSpace SC: Things are getting weird, not going to lie! Initially, we started disinfecting every AM and put out hygiene signage with additional “sanitation stations” and even added floral arrangements to the stations to bring a little beauty (and engage members) to use the sanitizers. 

Wash Your Hands Signage NextSpace Coworking Santa Cruz

But now we have closed the space to abide by our county’s shelter in place order.

  • We are only open 2 hours each day for the purpose of managing mail to keep our members’ businesses running smooth
  • Members have started an online “Coffee Time” to hang out virtually each morning. It’s so cute!
  • We plan to have a virtual happy hour

In what ways has COVID-19 affected the day-to-day in your space?

SD: Things are definitely more quiet in the space, and the majority of our conversations are outbreak-related. So that’s different for sure. Literally someone just said, “Nice to social distance with y’all!” as they left the lunch table.

JO: Everyone is on edge, especially as this past week has progressed. The typical water cooler talk is all about the pandemic, what is going to happen, what people are doing to prepare. Many members are preparing by taking home monitors in anticipation of school closures.

At the same time, everyone is being incredibly supportive of one another and trying to stay in good spirits. The community is strong. Our team has been working really hard on overcommunicating with members: asking how they are doing, what they need, talking with them about what we are doing, what our thought process is, how we intend on supporting everyone. That has gone really far.

FM: Totally Normal / Totally Not! We have plenty of community members that are attempting to work as usual, but also have a number who have been impacted.  Specifically:

  • SXSW cancelled: One of the startups here has their entire remote team flying in, they were scheduled to be featured at SXSW Innovation Showcase. All of that was cancelled. No team meeting, no SXSW parties, no chance to win or gain the exposure and connections offered by SXSW
  • Projects cancelled: Several members have already mentioned work projects being cancelled. One works with the airline industry and they had an entire RFP revoked. Likewise, another member who supports large tech conferences had six months worth of work put on hold. Their contacts are now asking them to create a system for virtual conferences, since it is unclear when these types of gatherings will be coming back.
  • Meetings cancelled or low attendance: We have had several bookings cancel due to attendee travel concerns about COVID. One client has zero attendees at a sales meeting that normally has 10-15. 
  • We’ve made the decision to go to a members only/limited staffing model for the next few weeks. That should allow our members who need space to use it, but encourage everyone else to stay home and safe.  

NextSpace SC: Our space started to fill with children and friends for a bit (we are thinking it had to do with school closures before the shelter-in-place order).  Although NextSpace is closed to the public, we still allow access to members that absolutely need the space to conduct business. 

  • We offer mailbox services and are staffed for two hours a day so members can access their mail via pick-up, but we have encouraged scanning or forwarding to their home address.
  • We have also directed members to ship packages (Amazon, UPS, etc.) to their home.
  • Staff are mostly working from home and trying to keep our community informed and find ways to keep everyone connected. We’re going as virtual as possible and testing the waters of online events and messaging platforms.

[?] Do you have ways for your community to connect virtually? If so, what is working well?

SD: We sure do! We have a member mailing list as well as an active Slack. Both of those channels are proving to be really valuable for our members to touch base with each other. We just launched our first-ever virtual membership (which is free in March) to encourage those who might be newly experiencing the challenges of remote work to have another touch point.  

Already there’s been an increase in the use of Slack. We’re planning virtual work sprints, have a “daily debate” channel, and are checking in on weekly goals. It’s lovely.

JO: Next week, we’ll be rolling out scheduled times to virtually cowork with each other. I’m looking at a few options: 

  1. Work sprints with video on
  2. Happy hour or “after kids are asleep” hour
  3. Water cooler check-ins in the morning and towards mid-afternoon when members would typically be taking coffee breaks

FM: We primarily use Slack for member communication and have seen an uptick in engagement. We’re planning to use Zoom for virtual coworking this week. 

NextSpace SC: We are lucky to have amazing members who started a Facebook group to host virtual morning coffee sessions each day. Our company will be using Zoom and Facebook Live to host virtual happy hours on Friday’s at 3:58pm and daily coworking sessions with our members. We’re also using our mailing list to communicate with members.  Our internal team will be logging in together each day to connect, support and share experiences and challenges.

Virtual Happy Hour NextSpace Coworking Santa Cruz

[?] How would you advise other space operators working to find ways to support, maintain and strengthen their community through the outbreak?

SD: Don’t be silent. Reach out, be proactive, and find ways that you can be helpful. It’s not as hard or scary as you might think.

JO: Now more than ever it’s imperative to model good communication, and over-communication. Even I have taken for granted the ease at which we connect with one another when in the same physical space. There is extra effort required to get used to doing that virtually. As coworking space operators, we can help our members do that by showing them how.

FM: Give your community ways to connect that are not related to physical space. Encourage everyone to stay connected via Zoom, Slack etc., and remind them that this is temporary.

NextSpace SC: There are so many resources! Check out Women Who Cowork who have dedicated an entire training session and created an online manual to support us during these crazy times. Joining virtual discussions such as Coworking Convos is also a great way to stay connected with other space operators that are in the same boat! 

Cat Johnson Coworking Convos Virtual Community

Lastly, even if your space is not closed yet, start putting strategies in place and communicate to members what your processes will be “in case of a closure.”  Get your mail, communications and resources in order. If you do this ahead of time, you will have more time to be present and available to your members when you do have to transition to virtual coworking. 

Cat Johnson is a writer and storyteller for the coworking movement. Cat is founder of Coworking Convos – a virtual monthly group discussion with other space operators on topics relevant to the coworking industry. Sign-up for the next free Coworking Convo and join the discussion!


About CloudVO

CloudVO is the umbrella brand of Cloud Officing Corp., headquartered in San Francisco, California. CloudVO’s mission is to provide comprehensive virtual office, coworking and meeting room solutions to professionals under a Workplace-as-a-Service™ model. CloudVO operates the CloudTouchdown network that grants preferential access to day offices and meeting rooms at nearly 1,000 locations worldwide for mobile workers and distributed workforces under a subscription model or on a pay-per-use basis.


Intro to Calendaring Software: 7+ Benefits for Coworking Spaces

Benefits of Real Time Calendaring for Coworking Spaces | CloudVO

Is your workspace team using a manual calendaring system? Are you trying to manage reservations and schedules with spreadsheets and shared docs?

Maybe it makes sense for you to use a manual system because you’re small enough to manage each booking in-person. 

Or maybe you’ve had a systems meltdown when using an online program and you feel more comfortable using an in-house system.

Or maybe you were unsuccessful teaching members how to use a real-time system and you ended up with members booking large rooms for small meetings, small rooms for large meetings, or any other number of missteps.

Or, maybe the investment in a software solution for calendaring doesn’t seem worth the expense.

More likely though, you’re buried in todos and don’t know all the options available to you—let alone which ones will work for you and your team.

But, if you plan to scale, you’ll need to automate your calendaring at some point. So you may as well set it up now.


Benefits of Real Time Calendaring for Coworking Spaces

Online calendaring offers a host of benefits for coworking space operators. At the top of the list is that it takes a todo off the plate of your overextended community managers. This is a huge win in and of itself.

It can also help sell coworking and virtual office memberships, boost meeting room revenue, and give members and potential members a more seamless and convenient experience.

Here are seven more benefits to online calendaring:

  1. It sets an expectation for the customer by being open and transparent about real-time availability of spaces and services.
  2. It reduces the time and resources needed to reserve rooms by eliminating the need for emails or phone calls when booking.
  3. It frees up staff time, allowing community managers to focus on other needs and community building.
  4. Clients can see availability and make bookings 24/7/365 without being constricted by the space’s business hours
  5. Most unified booking platforms have integrated billing systems to streamline payment collection which removes the hassle of chasing down payments.
  6. While technology is not always fool-proof, it’s more reliable than manually keeping the information about bookings.  
  7. Required fields such as name, time, date, attendees, contact info are safeguards these platforms have to prevent overlapping or booking errors.
  8. Users are requiring it. Maybe not the attorney member that has been there forever and is quite happy asking the front desk staff to make the booking, but pretty much everyone else.

If it’s not real-time, many won’t book, particularly corporate users. If you don’t use a system that can provide real-time booking and that can communicate to a platform like CloudVO or Liquidspace, you cut yourself off from one of the most profitable side of your business.

Pacific Workplaces Online Meeting Room Bookings | CloudVO
CloudVO sister company Pacific Workplaces offers online meeting room bookings for a seamless and convenient experience for current and potential members.

Syncing Your Calendaring Systems to Platform Partners and Resellers

It’s now easier than ever to sync calendars to reservations, scheduling and booking platforms through API integration.

Through CloudVO, you can sync calendars via Google Calendar. Once you’ve officially signed up your locations through our partner portal, you can add Google credentials to each listing on the platform.  To do this, log into our portal www.cloudvo.com and access the location(s) you would like to sync.  Each room can be synced to its respective calendar and clients can start booking in real-time.

CloudVO Blog Platforms and Tools Cloud Meeting Rooms Online Booking


If Google Calendar integration is not available with an API for your specific platform at this time, partners can send us credentials to access their platform where we can make bookings on your behalf.  While this still isn’t “real-time” on our end, it does eliminate half of the communication needed to confirm bookings manually.

This can increase the number of leads and bookings that are received from channel partners because it’s faster than manually confirming by phone and email.

Our mission at CloudVO is to provide a seamless interface between your calendar and our platform so potential members and customers can book space in your workplace quickly and painlessly.

Have questions about which online booking platforms are the best for coworking operators? Already a partner and want to sync your calendar for seamless real-time bookings? Contact us to learn more.

Cat Johnson is a storyteller for the coworking movement and founder of Convos – virtual monthly group discussions amongst space operators on topics relevant to the coworking industry. Sign-up for the next free Coworking Convo and join the discussion!


About CloudVO

CloudVO is the umbrella brand of Cloud Officing Corp., headquartered in San Francisco, California. CloudVO’s mission is to provide comprehensive virtual office, coworking and meeting room solutions to professionals under a Workplace-as-a-Service™ model. CloudVO operates the CloudTouchdown network that grants preferential access to day offices and meeting rooms at nearly 1,000 locations worldwide for mobile workers and distributed workforces under a subscription model or on a pay-per-use basis.


Instagram Stories: A Guide for Coworking Operators

500 million people use Instagram Stories daily making it a powerful tool for businesses. For coworking space operators, it not only humanizes your brand, but is a great way to bring new audiences to your space and create authentic connections with your followers.

On February 19, 2020, Coworking Content founder Cat Johnson and CloudVO Marketing Director Karina Patel co-hosted an Introduction to Instagram Stories Training for Coworking Operators. The training answered the ABC’s and 123’s on how to start using Instagram Stories, along with how to leverage specific tools to create in-the-moment content about your space. Stories is all about off-the-cuff videos, images and fun polls to level-up your social media marketing game.

One huge takeaway from the training was to ensure coworking space operators new what to post on Instagram Stories versus content that’s better suited to your Instagram Feed. To help, we’ve put together a simple infographic to use as a resource which highlights the differences between the main feed and Stories.

IG Stories Resource | CloudVO

Tell us a bit about yourself before downloading this resource.

Partner with us and get free resources specifically for workspace operators. Listing is free. Go to www.CloudVO.com to learn how to join our global network of nearly 1,000 workspace operators.

CloudVO is a sponsor of Coworking Convos. With Cat Johnson, founder of Convos, space operators are part of informal group discussions related to the coworking industry. Sign-up for the next free Coworking Convo and join the discussion!


About CloudVO

CloudVO is the umbrella brand of Cloud Officing Corp., headquartered in San Francisco, California. CloudVO’s mission is to provide comprehensive virtual office, coworking and meeting room solutions to professionals under a Workplace-as-a-Service™ model. CloudVO operates the CloudTouchdown network that grants preferential access to day offices and meeting rooms at nearly 1,000 locations worldwide for mobile workers and distributed workforces under a subscription model or on a pay-per-use basis.

Jamie Russo’s 8 Step Framework to Starting a Profitable Coworking Space

Jamie Russo is one of the primary voices in the shared workspace industry. 

Founder of Enerspace Coworking, host of the Everything Coworking Podcast – which was one of our top coworking podcasts of 2020 – and executive director of the Global Workspace Association (GWA), Russo coaches coworking space owners and operators from across the workspace spectrum on creating profitable, sustainable workspaces.

In her new ebook, 8 Steps to Creating a Profitable Coworking Space, Russo lays out the process of researching, preparing, opening and running a shared workspace. Geared for new space operators, the framework can also be used by existing operators who are re-thinking their business model or looking for validation around their process.

Creating a Profitable Coworking Space ebook by Jamie Russo

“I have a specific message and goal,” she says. “I want people to start spaces that are sustainable and profitable. We’re in this middle ground where people are starting to understand that not every coworking space is profitable. You can spend a lot of time in Facebook groups and have no idea that there are some people who are struggling.”

Russo stresses that she wants people to go into the process of opening a space with their eyes wide open.

“Oftentimes, people who start coworking spaces are very purpose driven and passionate,” she says. “We get into it because we’ve had what I call the coworking moment, where we want to create the community and the experience. People get very focused on that outcome, but most people have never signed a commercial lease before and have no idea what the process looks like.”

On the Everything Coworking Podcast, Russo and her guests dive deep into specific topics she covers in her framework. Her goal with the ebook, however, was to take a step back and show people what the process of opening a space looks like and the things they need to be aware of going in. 

Everything Coworking Podcast Jamie Russo

“I try to be very clear that there are lots of different reasons for starting a coworking space,” she says. “I want them to have a framework so they can figure out where they sit. Do they need to make a profit? Where is the investment coming from? If it’s the money they use to pay their mortgage, we need to get really serious about it.”

Russo also clarifies for readers the differences between coworking, managed workspace and flexible space.

“I want to make sure people know where they’re sitting on the workspace spectrum,” she says. “For example, if the space isn’t managed and they just want to offer it on flexible terms to 100 people for three years, that’s very different from coworking, with the community and managed space aspect.” She adds, “The term ‘coworking’ still has such broad use in the marketplace that people may not know the nuances of it.”

For Russo, the ebook represents her approach to helping people open a workspace in a thoughtful, intentional manner to create the space that’s right for them.

“A small, not-for-profit space may be perfect for someone, but that’s got to be an intentional decision,” she says. “Providing this framework is an example of how I like to help people through this process.”

Download Russo’s 8 Step Framework to Starting a Profitable Coworking Space ebook at Amazon. 

Cat Johnson is a content strategist and coworking storyteller. Founder of Coworking Convos, she teaches workspace operators how to leverage the power of content and brand storytelling at catjohnson.co


About CloudVO

CloudVO is the umbrella brand of Cloud Officing Corp., headquartered in San Francisco, California. CloudVO’s mission is to provide comprehensive virtual office, coworking and meeting room solutions to professionals under a Workplace-as-a-Service™ model. CloudVO operates the CloudTouchdown network that grants preferential access to day offices and meeting rooms at nearly 1,000 locations worldwide for mobile workers and distributed workforces under a subscription model or on a pay-per-use basis.

How Many Meeting Rooms Should You Have? A Meeting Room Guide for Flexible Office Space Operators

In this series, we will extract some of the data we published in our 2019 Meeting Room White Paper and dig deeper on our analysis.

Meeting Rooms are an indispensable amenity in any coworking space for three main reasons:

  1. Members need them for their own meeting requirements, both planned and sometimes impromptu
  2. Meeting rooms are an important revenue center, and a very profitable one at that
  3. Hosting meetings in your coworking space draws very desirable traffic that may convert into membership

What’s important to full-time members is that the meeting rooms are there and accessible when they need to host a meeting that cannot be accommodated in their office. Everyone likes “free,” but the availability of the rooms are more important than the price.

This is important to realize because the opportunity to monetize the meeting rooms outside of your membership is significant.

If you have a coworking space with 50 to 200 members, maintaining two meeting rooms and one day office is the bare minimum to provide the level of service that shared office space members expect. Many centers, particularly those with a healthy virtual office business, will have 5 and sometimes 10 or more meeting rooms and day offices.

The average number of meeting rooms in the U.S. is 3.5 per location, with 25% at 4 meeting rooms or more. As a reminder, these statistics come from analyzing the CloudVO inventory of 2,500 meeting rooms published on CloudVO.com, out of 700 partners worldwide with two-thirds of them in the United States. In some cases, operators do not publish all their inventory for online bookings which may slightly under estimate the true inventory numbers.

Meeting Room Data for Coworking Spaces | Number of Meeting Rooms | CloudVO

Monetizing Meeting Rooms is Too Important to Ignore

Whereas some free access to meeting rooms for full-time members can be a good idea, the opportunity cost associated with “free” is very high and the ability to monetize the rooms to outside visitors is too important to ignore. A better idea is to make them available to the public at large, and market them via resellers such as CloudVO as well as via your own local marketing efforts.

Pacific Workplaces estimates that the revenue generated by its meeting rooms (over 100 rooms in 20 locations) is 125% to 300% what it could generate by converting the rooms as full-time offices instead. The larger the room, the bigger the opportunity cost. Hence, it pays to have an aggressive meeting room profit center strategy as many CloudVO partners have found.

Over the last 10 years, we have seen a drastic reduction in ‘free’ meeting room hours provided to full-time members by operators, and a significant increase in meeting rooms available online via resellers such as CloudVO, Liquidspace, or DaVinci.

Use your Vacant Offices as Temporary Day Offices

Unlike WeWork, Regus has a healthy Virtual Office and Meeting Room business. We undertook a comprehensive comparison of their meeting room inventory, available for online bookings, with that of independent operators. It is interesting to see that Regus tends to maintain fewer larger- sized meeting rooms than independent operators, but many more rooms classified as “day offices.” This is because Regus will systematically list vacant offices as “day offices” and make them available to Virtual Office clients and “off-the-street” bookings.

They can also work as overflow for full-time members when the dedicated meeting rooms are full. We think this approach is a best practice that independent operators should emulate. Many IT platforms such as Yardi KUBE, Essensys, or DeskWorks will support the automatic listing of a vacant office as a free office, adding to your inventory of rooms that can be monetized as a meeting room until it’s leased again to a full-time client. The CloudVO platform integrates with many of the prevalent IT coworking platforms, which will enable us to market the available slots in your meeting room calendar and give end-users a seamless experience.

Meeting Room Data USA Coworking Spaces Average Rooms per Location | CloudVO

If you need assistance on how to monetize your vacant offices as day offices until they are leased to a full-time member again, do not hesitate to reach out to Partners@CloudVO.com.


About CloudVO

CloudVO is the umbrella brand of Cloud Officing Corp., headquartered in San Francisco, California. CloudVO’s mission is to provide comprehensive virtual office, coworking and meeting room solutions to professionals under a Workplace-as-a-Service™ model. CloudVO operates the CloudTouchdown network that grants preferential access to day offices and meeting rooms at nearly 1,000 locations worldwide for mobile workers and distributed workforces under a subscription model or on a pay-per-use basis.

The Best Resources for Flexible Office Space Operators in 2019

Best Resources for Flexible Office Space Operators in 2019 | CloudVO

It’s hard to believe 2019 is coming to a wrap and we hope our CloudVO partners and friends have benefitted from the resources we’ve provided throughout the year. If you’ve missed anything, we’ve made it easy for you! Check out our top ten resources for Coworking Space Operators in 2019.

1) How To Build A Healthy Virtual Office Business

How To Build a Healthy Virtual Office Business Profitability Data | CloudVO

This downloadable Free Guide for coworking operators walks you step-by-step on what it takes to start and grow a successful Virtual Office business in your coworking space, sharing data and recommendations from a best-in-class operator.

2) 8 Steps to Create a Profitable Coworking Space – eBook on Amazon

8 Steps to Creating a Profitable Coworking Space | Jamie Russo Everything Coworking

Jamie Russo, the Executive Director of the Global Workplace Association and founder of Enerspace Coworking, has published an e-book available for free on Amazon to guide newcomers to the industry on how to set up a coworking space. A well done, comprehensive guide to help coworking entrepreneurs on their journey to success!


3) Big Dive on Coworking Financial Metrics

Coworking Space Financials Deep Dive | CloudVO

This downloadable presentation is a recent update to the material our CEO, Laurent Dhollande, used at a Global Workplace Association webinar in May, which was the most attended webinar in GWA recent history. This update includes the original presentation, but with more comprehensive metrics used by Pacific Workplaces and Nextspace coworking.

4) How to Prevent Burnout when planning Coworking Events

Coworking Events and Tips to prevent Burnout | CloudVO

In this article, Cat Johnson picks the brain of Maya Delano, NextSpace Santa Cruz Community Manager, who shares 9 tips on how to organize rich events in your coworking space without burnout.

5) 2019 Meeting Room White Paper

Meeting Room White Paper 2019 Hourly Prices Per Room Size All Operators in United States

This comprehensive survey captured and analyzed the pricing of Day Offices and Meeting Rooms across the US available for booking by coworking and flexible office space locations. It covers how independent operators compare with Regus, and reviews optimum pricing, utilization rates, and best-in-class performances.

6) Instagram Marketing: An Introduction for Coworking Spaces

Instagram Marketing for Coworking Space Operators | Cat Johnson Coworking Content Training

In this joint training hosted by Coworking Content founder Cat Johnson, CloudVO Director of Marketing, Karina Patel, shows space operators how to leverage Instagram to strengthen your brand, generate leads, and attract members. Best training class on Instagram for coworking and way worth the $59 price!

7) How to Reinvent Your Marketing Strategy

CloudVO Blog Reinvent Your Coworking Space Marketing Strategy

In this post, Cat Johnson speaks with David Middleton, Vice President at YourOffice, who looked for help when his brand needed a shift to their marketing approach. That led to these 9 tips to help rejuvinate and streamline your marketing strategy.

8) New Ways of Work for Attorneys with Legal Virtual Offices

Virtual Office Plans for Attorneys | Pacific Workplaces

This article by Pacific Workplaces, is an example of how space operators can market to a specific profession. The post focuses on attorneys, historically avid users of shared office space, but operators can use this as a guide to offer someting special to any industry they choose to target.

9) Instagram Stories: An Introduction for Coworking Space Operators

CloudVO Tips on Instagram Stories for Coworking Operators

Best practices on how to leverage Instagram Stories to effectively market your coworking space. Instagram Stories are unique since they have a 24-hour shelf-life and offer specific tools to encourage engagement. Operators learn how to effectively use Stories to promote events and in-the-moment content to showcase your unique community.

10) 6 Telltale Signs It’s Time to Update your Coworking Space Website

CloudVO Blog 6 signs you need to update your coworking website

Wondering if your coworking website needs a refresh? Read this article which offers 6 clues that it may be time for a makeover.


About CloudVO

CloudVO’s mission is to provide comprehensive virtual office, coworking and meeting room solutions to professionals under a Workplace-as-a-Service™ model. CloudVO operates the CloudTouchdown network that grants preferential access to day offices and meeting rooms at nearly 1,000 locations worldwide for mobile workers and distributed workforces under a subscription model or on a pay-per-use basis.

Deep Dive on Coworking Financial Metrics for Coworking Operators

Coworking Space Financials Deep Dive | CloudVO

Tell us a bit about yourself before downloading the complete slide deck.

Five months ago, our CEO Laurent was asked by the Global Workspace Association (GWA) to host a webinar that shared Pacific Workplaces’ (PAC), our sister company, best practices on financial metrics. This was the GWA webinar with the largest audience in recent memory. Multiple follow up questions lead us to update and expand the presentation and post it here for the benefit of CloudVO partners and friends.

This slide deck is more comprehensive than the original webinar whose recording can be streamed from the GWA member portal (you need to be a GWA member to do this).  In particular, we added a few slides in response to CloudVO partner questions on staff resources associated with supporting Virtual Offices and on event metrics.

Using data from Pacific Workplaces and Nextspace Coworking, the webinar treated the following topics:

  • What a healthy coworking P&L looks like
  • How to use P&L to communicate the counter-cyclical nature of some of your lines of business to landlords
  • Meaningful coworking revenue & occupancy metrics
  • How to optimize the relationship between occupancy and pricing power
  • Full time office space occupancy metrics
  • Revenue per occupied square foot metrics
  • Revenue breakdown by line of business
  • Operating expense metrics and benchmarks
  • How the P&L of a private office dominated coworking operation differs from a community-oriented coworking operation
  • Service package metrics
  • Virtual Office count and revenue
  • Staff resources needed to support the PAC Virtual Office business
  • Profitability of the Virtual Office Business
  • How to use the data when managing your coworking operation


    Since the webinar, we added a few slides that address the following issues in more depth:

  • Identifying and tracking coworking events metrics
  • Staff resources and cost of supporting VO plans

This later point is also developed in more detail in Step 5 of the free downloadable guide on ‘How To Build A Healthy Virtual Office Business.”


About CloudVO

CloudVO’s mission is to provide comprehensive virtual office, coworking and meeting room solutions to professionals under a Workplace-as-a-Service™ model. CloudVO operates the CloudTouchdown network that grants preferential access to day offices and meeting rooms at 750 locations worldwide for mobile workers and distributed workforces under a subscription model or on a pay-per-use basis.

How To Build a Healthy Virtual Office Business: A Guide for Coworking Operators

At the 2019 Global Workspace Association conference in Washington, D.C., Keith Warner, with Pacific Workplaces (Pac), mentioned in one of the interactive sessions that his Cupertino, California location supported 400 Virtual Office Plans that collectively generated enough revenue to pay the (high) rent for his entire 18,000 square foot flexible office location. This comment attracted a lot of attention and questions from new coworking operators who asked how they could also build a healthy virtual office business. This guide is our attempt to answer those questions.

Virtual Office Plans San Francisco, CA | Pacific Workplaces

Tell us a bit about yourself before downloading a copy of this guide to keep as a resource.

Step 1: Set up a Mail Service Business

A mail plan is the first step for a client to set up a business identity at your location. This means they can use your coworking location address to receive mail, use it on their web site and other marketing collateral.

The motivations can be multifold. Many people working from home do not want to use a home address as their main business address. Some businesses located remotely may want to show geographical coverage of multiple locations. For example, this may be in response to the requirements of cities and counties to work with contractors that have a local presence.

In this case, the minimum you need to do is to receive their mail and store it in a location they can retrieve. Some operators store mail in a file cabinet and rely on the front desk person for the mail client to retrieve their mail during business hours. Others may use mailboxes, which may or may not be available to clients outside of business hours.

What’s good about a new VO mail business is that it happens incrementally – say a couple to a handful of new clients every month, and can be supported without additional resources than those necessary to run the coworking operation.  In fact, with the proper organization, a location can support over 100 VO mail clients without additional staff than is necessary to support most standard coworking operations.

You can also list your mail plan on a web site like CloudVO.com and leverage its marketing capabilities without investing a penny in any digital VO advertising. This is a great way to get started. There is no cost to list, only a 25% discount provided on the plans purchased by CloudVO.

Mail service is your first and easiest step to be in the VO business.

Step 2: Provide Phone Answering Services

While a mail plan is the first necessary step for your clients to establish a local business identity, adding a local phone number and live phone answering to that plan helps them project a much stronger image, particularly when it is a remote company that needs to show it operates in your local market.

Does this mean you need to plan for additional staffing resources answering the phone from the front desk? No. It is not best practice to answer your clients’ incoming phone calls from the front desk. In fact, doing so can lead to poor customer service. For example, if a member comes to you with a question while you are on the phone in an involved conversation, who do you put on hold, the person on the phone or your member in the lobby? Either way, the quality of service provided to one will make the other suffer, as one of the two will have to wait. The best practice is for the front desk person to focus on member management, operations, and perhaps providing tours, not answering calls.

If you don’t have the scale to build your own answering center (and most operators don’t), there is an easier, more cost-effective solution to that quandary: outsource your phone answering to the CloudAnswering services of CloudVO.  It’s easy, does not involve upfront costs, and provides very good margins.

In this case, your VO member is provided a local phone number of any area code they choose, CloudVO does the installation of the number, sets up their voicemail and call patching, configures your member’s email or text notification of messages and even automatic voice-to-text transcription, if they choose.  All of this is done off-site and you are just billed per user (much less than hiring, training and managing your own answering staff).

Step 3: Add Meeting Room Hours

While the opportunity cost of idle meeting rooms can be expensive, the unavailability or difficulty of booking can be equally detrimental.  Members must have the ability to book a meeting room easily online, and preferably have a variety of choices to meet their needs.

The ease and availability of booking will impact (positively or negatively) your ability to sell and retain virtual office members even more than private office and coworking members, but those other member types are also a big consideration in the type and number of meeting rooms one provides.  Any member that can’t get the room they want, when they want it, just a couple of times in a row, will start to look for alternative space (and probably not even mention to you why they are leaving).

A minimum of 2 meeting rooms and 1 day office is recommended, but keep in mind, any vacant private office should be made available as a temporary day office.

It’s important to constantly monitor the usage to determine whether you need to add additional meeting rooms.  Pacific Workplaces has found that once a room is accommodating 100 hours or more of reservations, it starts to feel “full.” In other words, at 100+ hours per month per room, the members will start to have trouble easily booking times they need and you’ll start to get complaints.  If you have 3 meeting rooms and you are consistently booking 350 hours per month, it’s time to start looking for a full-time office you can pull out of inventory and convert to your next meeting room.

Eliminating a full-time office and the consistent revenue associated with it may seem unwise at first, but Pac has found that each meeting room typically provides 125-300% of the revenue that same room would generate if it were left as a private office.  In fact, each added meeting room can easily support an additional 20-25 VO members (at $200-350 each).

While large boardrooms are nice to accommodate meetings of 14-18 people, you’ll probably find over time there aren’t very many meetings of that size, so that huge beautiful room is mostly wasted.  Pac has found most demand to be in the 4-6 seat range, and 30-40% to just be for 1-on-1 meetings. 

But keep in mind, if your plans include a number of HOURS in any room, your members will gladly book the 18 seat boardroom for their 1-on-1 meetings – this is why some shared workspaces have switched to a CREDIT system.  Workspaces using credits, like Pac, include a number of meeting room credits in their plans, and then assign a number of credits per hour to each room. Day offices are always 1 credit per hour, but members are “charged” 2 or 3, sometimes up to 5 credits per hour for the larger rooms.  This new system assigns a proper value to each room and provides incentive for members to book appropriately sized rooms, thus leaving the larger rooms for those that actually need them (and are willing to spend the necessary credits).

Step 4: Market your plans locally and beyond

Include virtual office solutions in all your marketing efforts.  It’s even more important than marketing private offices – you’re going to fill up the offices, but you’ll never run out of VO capacity!

Of utmost importance is the optimization of your website for virtual office and VO related terms.  Some examples include developing even small paragraphs around these terms:

Virtual office, virtual office space, what is a virtual office, what are virtual office services, how virtual office works, how to setup virtual office, virtual office address, business address, virtual mailbox, digital mailbox. For more impact, you can also add the city to these keywords, such as virtual office in [city], [city] virtual office space, [city] business address, etc.

The ability to sell virtual offices on your website is a must.  Have a reputable e-commerce web developer set you up or talk to Yardi KUBE, a shared workspace solution provider and member of the Global Workspace Association. They have a proven online sales module that will work with any website.

Systematically educate all prospects on your virtual office offerings.  Whether they email you asking questions, or stop in for a tour, make sure everyone you communicate with knows what a virtual office plan is and why they might need one (down the road if not today). 

Sign up with a reputable channel partner such as CloudVO.  CloudVO does the national marketing you probably won’t do, and has relationships with enterprise companies looking for touchdown space in multiple cities.

Step 5: Manage your VO business effectively

At first the incremental resources necessary to support a VO business are very small. Having less than 50 mail plans to support does not necessitate more staff. Remember that most users don’t get mail everyday. Some VO clients almost never get mail, but will use only your local address and perhaps a local phone number on their website.

Only when you get over 75 VO clients will you need to give serious thoughts about optimizing your VO operation. By then, you should be generating more than $10k of incremental revenue per month.

Pacific Workplaces averages around 150 VO plans per location, at an average of $140 per month of revenue per plan. That’s more than $20k of total VO revenue per month. The Cupertino location supports over 400 VO plans, enough to pay for the (very expensive) rent of this 18,000 square foot coworking space!

Pacific Workplaces has made the effort to capture the staff time associated with supporting VO clients for a full month, such as answering emails from VO prospects or clients, walking them through options, on-boarding new members, helping them set up their phone system if the plan included phone services, handling their mail after they move in, helping them book a room occasionally, preparing and sending their invoice, chatting with them on any topic when they come by, as well as allocating time spent on general center maintenance tasks to all members (e.g. kitchen duties), etc. That comprehensive effort captured the time spent by the staff, literally second by second, for a full month and re-allocated it to each category of clients and individual plans.

We then converted that data into dollars, considering the fully loaded payroll cost for the time spent supporting VO clients, factoring the opportunity cost of meeting room usage when the VO plan included free hours of meeting rooms, the cost of answering calls (outsourced to CloudVO), the opportunity cost of a mail room that could be converted into office space, and more.

The results are pretty amazing: on average, it costs less than $7 per plan of staff time to support a Mail Plan! The VO business is Pacific Workplaces most profitable line of business!

These numbers may seem low, but they are real. Our perspective is often biased by the occasional heavy user, or that guy that likes to hang around and chat with the staff while picking up his mail. But you have to remind yourself that this guy is an out layer, and the burden he represents is more than offset by the many silent VO clients you never see, you rarely hear from, and for whom you receive mail very rarely.

How To Build a Healthy Virtual Office Business Staff Resources Data | CloudVO
How To Build a Healthy Virtual Office Business Profitability Data | CloudVO

These slides were part of the Deep Dive on Financial Metrics webinar. For more details, go here.

Join our global network of nearly 1,000 flex workspace operators at www.CloudVO.com. Listing is free!


About CloudVO

CloudVO’s mission is to provide comprehensive virtual office, coworking and meeting room solutions to professionals under a Workplace-as-a-Service™ model. CloudVO operates the CloudTouchdown network that grants preferential access to day offices and meeting rooms at 750 locations worldwide for mobile workers and distributed workforces under a subscription model or on a pay-per-use basis.



How to Prevent Burnout when Planning Coworking Events: 9 Tips for Community Managers

Coworking events can be an important part of running a successful coworking space.

From small happy hours for your members, to lunch and learns, meetups, networking events, presentations, workshops, large events for your extended community and everything in-between, coworking events can serve numerous important purposes, including:

  • Providing added value for members
  • Bringing new people into your space
  • Positioning your space in front of your target market
  • Differentiating from other coworking spaces
  • Giving members an opportunity to share skills and expertise
  • Educating your local community about coworking
  • Strengthening your existing member community
  • Demonstrating your company values and culture

As NextSpace senior community manager Maya Delano says, events are an “absolutely essential marketing tool and retention tool.”

She explains that whether members take advantage of events or not, they want to know that they have the option of participating in in-space events.

Coworking Events and NextTalk Luncheon at NextSpace Santa Cruz | CloudVO

Coworking Event Burnout

The flip side, however, is that events can be exhausting and overwhelming for space operators and teams that are already stretched thin with todos.

Events are time consuming, they take a lot of energy, they require big picture planning and strategizing, as well as detail work down to the level of napkins and name tags.

Delano, who has been hosting events at NextSpace for seven years and was an event organizer before coming into coworking, shared nine tips to prevent event burnout in your coworking space.

Coworking Events and Tips to prevent Burnout | CloudVO

1. Understand what works for you, your staff and your budget

“Don’t set yourself up to fail by hosting events that are too large, too detailed, too expensive or too frequent,” says Delano. “Be clear with yourself, your team and any collaborators about what is realistic.”

2. Partner on events with local organizations, including your Small Business Development Center (SBDC). 

“This way,” says Delano, “you have two organizations putting their time and resources into one event each month. Doing that has taken a lot of pressure off of both of the organizations, and it’s increased our reach and attendance.”

Cloud VO Partner NextSpace Coworking Santa Cruz Partners with Small Business Development Center

3. Host events during the 9-to-5 work day

“When you work a full day of coworking and then you have to go into a 6-9 p.m. evening event, you have just pushed yourself too hard,” says Delano. “After the event you have clean up and the next thing you know, you’re not getting home until 11 p.m. Then you’re turning around and you have to be back in the space—with a smile—at 9 a.m.”

Delano and the NextSpace team focus on daytime and lunchtime events, and leave the evening networking events to other people. That way, events fall within the time and structure of the work day.

The team does three large evening events per year—a holiday party and two networking events, including a women in tech event and speed networking—but they limit those large, evening events to three per year.

4. Keep it simple and consistent

NextSpace does a second Tuesday of the month event, a Friday at 3:58 happy hour, and a quarterly breakfast on a Tuesday at 10 a.m. 

“By having this structure, you can avoid overbooking yourself with numerous events in one week,” says Delano. “Signature events in your space help everyone get on the same page and lets everyone structure their time accordingly.”

Coworking Events and Happy Hour at NextSpace Santa Cruz | CloudVO
Happy Hour spread at NextSpace Coworking Santa Cruz

5. Manage your personal expectations

“You can’t do everything, so plan your ideal situation,” says Delano. “If you’re just starting out, try one event per month, or one event per quarter.” She explains that events can be overwhelming if you don’t have an events background and suggests letting other people—a member or an events mentor—help you.

“Let someone show you the ropes,” she says. “The learning curve going from zero events to a bunch of events is huge.”

6. Do member-focused events

In-house events, such as a Wednesday Walkabout lunch, are not about retention and sales. They’re simply about connecting with members and helping them connect with each other.

“Let the members tell people how great your coworking space is. That way you can leverage word-of-mouth.”

Coworking Events and Member Participation NextSpace Santa Cruz | CloudVO

7. Plan your event schedule annually

“Sit down with your team and look at the entire year, one quarter at a time,” says Delano. “Look at all the things going on and make sure each quarter’s event schedule is realistic.”

She also advises considering your operational procedures, such as billing, as well as other events when planning your schedule.

Coworking Events Planning in Advance | CloudVO

8. Curate your events

“You have to do events that you like,” says Delano. “You’re the cool one. You’re the one bringing in the trendy, interesting, fun factor. If it’s not interesting to you, don’t do it.” 

She adds that, as a coworking space manager, take feedback and suggestions from members, but your events need to reflect you and, in turn, your community.

9. Be mindful and express your values

“We’ve become the clubhouse for women in tech in Santa Cruz,” Delano says. “I’m not a tech person, but I have the wherewithal to support women in the space, which is really important to me.” 

She adds, “So I’m addressing the needs of the community, which is really important, as well as my passion, which is supporting women in a safe working environment.

Cat Johnson is a coworking storyteller and content strategist. She blogs about coworking, the workspace industry, community and content marketing at catjohnson.co

Join our global network of 750 workspace operators at www.CloudVO.com. Listing is free!


About CloudVO

CloudVO is the umbrella brand of Cloud Officing Corp., headquartered in San Francisco, California. CloudVO’s mission is to provide comprehensive virtual office, coworking and meeting room solutions to professionals under a Workplace-as-a-Service™ model. CloudVO operates the CloudTouchdown network that grants preferential access to day offices and meeting rooms at 750 locations worldwide for mobile workers and distributed workforces under a subscription model or on a pay-per-use basis.


CloudVO ‘In it to Win It’ at The 2019 Office Evolution Franchisee Conference

This year’s Office Evolution Franchisee Work Empowered™ Conference was themed, In it to Win It!
Amanda Leffew, CloudVO’s Director of Operations and Tracy Wilson their COO, were delighted to participate in this week’s two-day extravaganza. Office Evolution’s ‘Base Camp’ is in Colorado, so we were fortunate to join the annual gathering of operators in the Rocky Mountain city of Denver.

CloudVO Sponsor Booth at Office Evolution Conference 2019

CloudVO was among a handful of industry sponsors at the event. Office Evolution, through its franchisee program, has grown to be the 5th largest shared office operator in the United States. They expect to continue double-digit annual center growth trajectory into the future. We appreciate their partnership and are happy to grow our relationship as they grow their vibrant business.

Tracy participated on a panel Leveraging the Power of Partners to discuss the importance of building and maintaining solid industry partnerships to increase the number of virtual office, meeting room and coworking clients and to help grow revenue.  She and Amanda also hosted roundtable discussions on CMRA Best Practices.

Tracy Wilson COO of CloudVO Panel Discussion Office Evolution Conference 2019
Tracy Wilson (furthest left), COO of CloudVO, on a panel discussion about leveraging partnerships within the Coworking & Flexible Office Industry

Office Evolution’s culture and values tie in perfectly with that of CloudVO’s. Theirs are: Respect, Win-Win, Ohana, and Authenticity. We couldn’t agree more. These are values that make for a solid business operation.  CloudVO is honored to be a part of Office Evoluiton’s extended Ohana.

Office Evolution Conference 2019 Denver Colorado Opening Session
CloudVO Panel Discussion Office Evolution Conference 2019

CloudVO offers free resources specifically for workspace operators. Visit   www.CloudVO.com   to partner with us and join our global network of 750 workspace operators. Listing is free!


About CloudVO

CloudVO is the umbrella brand of Cloud Officing Corp., headquartered in San Francisco, California. CloudVO’s mission is to provide comprehensive virtual office, coworking and meeting room solutions to professionals under a Workplace-as-a-Service™ model. CloudVO operates the CloudTouchdown network that grants preferential access to day offices and meeting rooms at 750 locations worldwide for mobile workers and distributed workforces under a subscription model or on a pay-per-use basis.