Are Community Managers the HR of co-working spaces?
Breaking the boundaries and conventional idea of having an office, the co-working industry is booming. Not only startups and freelancers, even large companies are realizing and utilizing the benefits offered by collaborative workspaces.
For instance, a part of the Tata Company Jaguar Land Rover’s team works in WeWork’s Mumbai’s Bandra Kurla Complex (BKC) facility, and, in March, the company also took up 180 seats at Smartworks in Pune. One of Google’s many teams also works out of Awfis in Gurugram while Amazon India has a team of 16 at Smartworks in Pune.
More and more startups, gig workers and large corporates and MNCs are utilizing these spaces not only because of the cost benefits attached to it but because of several other reasons like networking and the vibe of the space. Co-working spaces usually have a vibrant atmosphere, buzzing with energy and provide a great platform for informal networking and collaboration as one keeps bumping into executives, entrepreneurs and freelancers from different sectors.
But who is taking care of creating all these elements? While companies are busy chasing targets, networking and having fun, who is taking care of all the behind-the-scenes work?
Meet the Community Managers
Handling the daily tasks of a co-working space and taking care of the needs of each and every member of the community. Sounds familiar?
While the role of HR has now evolved and become much more advanced, the core somewhere still lies in looking after the needs and development of the human resource, the employees. Similarly, in a co-working space, the community managers are the ones responsible for the needs and development of the community. However, it is not completely similar to the role of HR.
“The Community Managers' role is much more than managing the day to day activities and taking care of admin related work,” exclaims Yaron Shoshan, Community Director, WeWork India. He says, “Their role is to build the network of communities, connect with them and help them with their business needs.”
Naman Sanghal, Senior Community Manager, 91springboard further reiterates the same and says, “The basic job role of a community manager is to build communities and support them in every possible way. From providing tech support to helping them with recruitment, we try to solve their challenges by leveraging our larger pool of network.”
Naman shares that the responsibility of Community Managers extends to getting business leads for their community members as well. “We host events and workshops to cover aspects like how to pitch, helping them get mentors who can guide them.”
“Community managers are the backbone of co-working spaces. From the internet is not working to connecting the communities to the investors, our role is as broad as it gets,” says Naman.
Where does the community manager lie in the hierarchy?
In 91springboard there are several hubs in different regions and cities and each hub has a Hub Manager. Further, each Hub Manager has a facility manager, a Senior Community Manager and Community Manager working under him/her.
WeWork that is operational across countries works in a slightly different way. It is a large organization with more than 5,000 employees in over 280 locations, spread across 77 cities in 23 countries. Here is how their hierarchical structure for community function looks like:
Community Director > Community Manager > Community Lead > Community Associate
What skills do you need to have to be a community manager?
Interestingly, there is no special degree or educational background that you require to be a Community Manager. All you need to have is a passion to learn and a desire to help the community. If there is a key skill that companies like WeWork and 91Springboard are looking for that would be “communication”. However, a background in hospitality is preferred says Yaron from WeWork. But even he emphasizes more on the importance of behavioral competencies and being a culture fit.
“While hiring for the role of the Community Managers, we are looking for people who are self-driven, dedicated and believes in the company’s vision. For us hiring the right people mean hiring people who want to make a difference.”
So, a community manager at a co-working space meets and greets newcomers with a welcoming smile, is responsible for social events organization, creates a collaborative environment and makes each member feel at ease. A community manager also overlooks the place and makes sure there are no operational glitches that would affect any processes. While Naman and Yaron believe that the role is not exactly similar to that of the HR, we do observe some similarities here.
What do you think? Are Community Managers HR of co-working spaces? Share your thoughts with us in the comment section below.