Article: Community managers as HRBPs – Emerging roles for HR in co-working spaces


Community managers as HRBPs – Emerging roles for HR in co-working spaces

There’s a steady rise of co-working spaces, here’s a new people management role that is fast emerging in this new context.
Community managers as HRBPs – Emerging roles for HR in co-working spaces

“Coworking” is the new style of working! It involves individuals or teams of all sizes working independently, but with access to each other’s opinions, ideas and experiences. A coworking space provider develops and designs the physical space within which these sharing communities exist. Coworking is already popular amongst freelancers, boutique firms and start-ups today, and is now seeing rapid adoption from corporates as well. By altering the boundaries of conventional offices, coworking spaces have witnessed extraordinary growth in the past few years. In India alone, the space leased by coworking companies has increased from 6.4 lakh sq ft in the first half of 2017 to over 19 lakh sq ft in June 2018. 

A Coworking space offers exceptional amenities and services to professionals ranging from high-speed internet to dedicated event spaces without tying up capital in a lease obligation. The various plans offered by any coworking company allow professionals the ability to afford and work out of an office environment that is free from time and space constraints, constraints that are quite characteristic of traditional workplaces. 

While the space and its facilities attract people to come into a coworking space, what keeps them hooked is the tight-knit community they get to be a part of. Coworking spaces are fast evolving into collaborative communities where members frequently interact to share thoughts and ideas. The possibilities are truly endless, and we’ve witnessed all sorts of connections that happen in our spaces across the country. 

Our Community Managers are at the forefront of building this community. They are responsible for identifying and creating opportunities for like-minded groups or individuals to engage with each other. It demands high levels of curiosity, passion, and persuasiveness and plays a pivotal role in creating impactful communities that make work better for our members.

In essence, when compared to the role of an HR business partner in a corporate environment we find a lot of overlaps with what a community manager delivers in a coworking space

  1. The trusted Counsellor:  Much like an HR Business Partner, a community manager is a trusted counselor for the members in their space. There have been many instances in our company when our community managers have counseled our members to sign up for fewer memberships or to take a smaller space if they felt their needs could be better served in that manner. It is important for a community manager to understand the business of the respective member and provide counsel that works for best for their business. The simple cardinal rule we follow is- always do what’s in the best interest of our members.
  2. The evangelist: Membership in a coworking space is not just the seats one signs up for, but also the community they will become a part of. The community manager plays a key role while working with a potential member to explain to them what the ‘smell of the place’ is like. The culture inside the space, what is expected of the member when they become a part of the community and how the community will support them to learn and grow. It is important while signing up that a member understands the norms of the community. There have been situations while dealing with a potential member where either the member company or the community manager realized that 91springboard may not be the right community for them, and on a lot of occasions we have facilitated a connection with other coworking spaces that in our best knowledge and understanding would be better suited to the respective companies’ needs.
  3. The Change agent: Moving into a coworking space is a big decision and a change for anyone. A Coworking space works for a member only if they integrate well within the community. We have a formal onboarding program for every member who signs up for our space. This program is run by our community managers and typically involves making the new member familiar with the space and norms in the space. It also includes introducing the members to relevant member companies within the hub so that their interactions can be of more value.
  4. Social Curators: Making the right Human Connection: The community managers create a platform by curating various events where like-minded people can come and discuss topics of interest. These events are organized basis the needs that a community manager receives/ senses from the members. They vary from networking events to knowledge sharing sessions and in some cases even events curated for pure and simple entertainment. These events have very often led to building real professional human connections where people have found a co enthusiast, a co-founder, an investor, an employee, a mentor, a coach and last but not the least a friend.  

Coworking spaces are fast becoming a preferred format for individuals and organizations across the board. The spaces come in all shapes and sizes, and the key to making the right choice is to get an understanding of what one’s needs are today and what they might be tomorrow. Once you have that, the market is booming with options for your consideration.  If ever in doubt, all you need to do is engage in a candid conversation with the community managers in these spaces, secure in the knowledge that just like your HR business partner, they too have your best interest in mind and at heart. 


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Topics: Diversity, Life @ Work

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