What is Coworking? It’s Partly About Office Management

Coworking spaces have emerged as one of the places where independent workers and small startups choose to work

Coworking is enabled by ubiquitous digital technology, which makes it possible for workers to “bring your own device”, and to work from pretty much anywhere.

The same technology has enabled office managers to operate not only anywhere, but at very small scales. From the point of view of the operator, the challenge of coworking is to be able to slice up workspace into one worker pieces, and very short time periods. Some coworking spaces are willing to rent a single desk for an hour at at time.

This granularity, and a desire to offer an array of packages, means that the office management must be extremely efficient and inexpensive. These processes have been automated for decades, of course, But now there are an increasing number of packages designed for the lowest budget operations, including coworking spaces.

Not only can workers work anywhere, it’s pretty easy to set up almost any space to be a rental workspace.

For example, Andy Alsop of “The Receptionist.com” (maker of office management products) wrote about the “5 Best Coworking Office Space Management Software Solutions [1] .His list gives us an idea of the tasks that are commonly needed.

The five products listed may be a bit out of date, there will surely be many more entries in the intervening years.

But the important thing is, what do coworking space operators need?

The basic core is managing memberships and payments. The latter is a straightforward billing/invoicing task. The former combines elements of property leasing with customer relations, and different tools offer different features for this.

Nexudus (one of the biggest players) manages stuff like events, newsletters, and also printers and so on. Optix also has member-to-member messaging (redundant with Facebook etc.?) and a market for desk space. Coworkify has sales and marketing features (i.e., for recruiting members to fill the desks). Happy Desk has wifi network management and door access features.

All of the systems are designed to be sold or leased at low cost to even the smallest operator.

I note that this article is in the blog of The Receptionist, a company that makes “The Receptionist for iPad”, a versatile, effective and easy-to-use visitor management system available”. This suite of features includes annoying stuff like logging visitors to your office, integrated with deeper annoying features that connect these logs with security or sales data bases. All on an iPad connected to cloud services.

Overall, it is clear that complex business office processes are available to pretty much anyone.

In the case of the products that are specialized for coworking, the business features are combined with social features (e.g., mail and chat groups), PR stuff (event management, “customer relationship” stuff), and technical managements (wifi, doors, printers).


This job is harder than I realized.

But the best thing about these products, to my mind, is that they enable a good community leader to provide professional quality business services with relatively little effort. This frees time and energy for the most important part, schmoozing, connecting, teaching, and listening.

  1. Andy Alsop, 5 Best Coworking Office Space Management Software Solutions, in The Receptionist – Blog. 2015. https://thereceptionist.com/5-best-coworking-space-management-software-solutions/


What is Coworking?

Note:  please stay tuned for my new ebook, “What is Coworking”, coming in 2017.

4 thoughts on “What is Coworking? It’s Partly About Office Management”

  1. Hey Robert,

    I’m sad to see that Habu didn’t make it on to your list of cool coworking software as that’s our niche!!!! Particularly after you read my coworking and childcare article earlier this year 😦 I’ve covered a few more interesting areas since then (such as blockchain spaces and more) though if you wanted to check back 🙂

    Ryan from Coworking Insights wrote a pretty massive coworking software guide late last year. It’s outdated now, but the very nature of software development but it gives a sense of the bigger picture and who the cool cats are! Here’s the link: http://coworkinginsights.com/coworking-management-tools-2016/


    1. There is a large and growing body of office management software, and quite a few are targeted for coworking. I am not an expert on such products, and this blog will never be a comprehensive survey of all the offerings. And, as the comment notes, there are other sources with wider coverage.

      (I also have to admit that this is one of the least interesting aspects of coworking to me.)


      1. Hahaha! I always enjoy a good, honest and blunt reply!! And I essentially agree. I think that admin is the least interesting element in coworking (in fact it’s probably one of the least interesting things in life!). Our creative workspace got swamped by admin as it grew and almost went under. They lost their creative vision and community focus for quite some time battling this. That’s why we started building coworking software.

        When’s your book due out? I’m looking forward to reading it 🙂


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