18. Phone Service & 24/7 Access in Your Coworking Space

Welcome to Episode 18 of the Everything Coworking Podcast!  

Today we’re going to talk about 2 somewhat unrelated topics, but I thought I’d throw them together: Phone Service & 24/7 Access.

Phone Service:

How do I decide if I’m going to offer phone service in my coworking space?  It’s probably best to make a decision once you’re open, or by surveying your clients prior to opening.

What do I have to do to provide phones to clients in my coworking space?  While you may not provide the service immediately after opening, it’s less expensive to hardwire ethernet ports during construction so that you easily can add it on later. You can decide to have ports hardwired only in private offices or possibly include desks in the space.  Also, when deciding on where to hardwire your ports, think about where you really want clients on their phone, some are loud talkers and may disrupt other members.  One space, BLANKSPACES, provides ethernet ports at every desk to support VOIP phones for clients, (which can be expensive) where as other spaces prefer to only offer phones in private offices.

Does the space or the member provide the VOIP phones?  You can either let members provide their own VOIP phones, or you can purchase VOIP phones and provide the service for them, this gives you the opportunity to mark up the service and increase a bit of revenue for the space.  I use Jive in my coworking space.  Regarding hardware, you have to decide if it’s worth outright purchasing the hardware or not, you don’t want inventory that’s not being used.

Does VOIP overload the internet?  You can set your internet service in your space to prioritize the VOIP service which increases reliability. However if you don’t have good internet service VOIP calls can drop and which will cause issues for the members and therefore you.

Can my member take the phone with them?  If they’ve purchased the phone, they can, or the number can forward to them. Also, the VOIP numbers can go with them, so if they think they might move to their own business space in the future, this can be a very good option.

24/7 Access

Should I offer 24/7 access?  First check your member demand, see if they’re interested.  Also, think this through, while you can always change your schedule, it’s best to not make changes for your members, or at least minimal changes.  Members, like most typical humans, resist change.

Should members be in the space 24/7?  Can you sleep at night with members in your space at night without being there?  If not, don’t do it.  You can also consider extending hours to match the demands of your population if you don’t want to staff 24/7, but do want extended hours.

Advantages to being 24/7: Some members are seeking a space that they can work in 24/7 and this will be a selling point for them.

How do I manage 24/7 access operationally? You will need to think carefully about an access system.  You’d need a FOB system so you can get reports of who is accessing the space. Or you can use a keypad system so your members can have a code to the door, however these codes generally do not have reporting methods so you may not be able to tell who has come in and out of the space.  

Should all members have 24/7 access?  We do 24/7 access for only our full time members, you’ll want to think about who you want to give this access to.

What about security?  Originally we did not have security cameras at our Palo Alto coworking space, but then we had a break in.  We have since installed a security system, and also installed dropcams which makes it possible to log in on your phone and see who’s in the space.  You’ll definitely want some kind of security system.

Resources Mentioned in this Podcast:

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