Coworking Owners: How to Take Vacation
It's easy to believe that only YOU can do the job of running your coworking space. It feels nice to be The One with the answer, the person in charge and the go-to gal for anything.
This. Is. Not. True.
You believe you are the only capable person because you've never given anyone else the chance to contribute. Here are some easy-peasy ways to start delegating critical tasks to other people or the community at large so you can go recharge your batteries without feeling like you have to have your phone tucked in in the waistband of your swimsuit the whole time you're away.
Set up Subscriptions
You can make anything from toilet paper to coffee appear in your space on a schedule. I highly recommend this for basic sundries. Our coffee provider delivers a 5lb bag of coffee every 1st Friday and charges my credit card. I don't have to do anything to ensure that everyone is caffinated. Look into Amazon's subscription services. Pro-tip: track your use for a couple of months so you know how often to have the drones deliver your essentials.
Leave a Loaded Gift Card
Put $100 on a gift card to the closest grocery store or big box shop. Let your members know where it is and if something critical goes out of stock while you're away, they are empowered to grab the gift card and take care of the problem. Have them leave the receipts in the envelope for you. This works great for creamer, dish soap or light bulbs.
Put Billing on Auto-pilot
The strongest case I can make for using a coworking management software is that it can ensure that you're paid automatically every month, no matter what. I recently took away the option to pay by check or paypal and instead require all members to put a debit or credit card into their account in Cobot. When the 1st of the month rolls around, their cards get charged for their membership and my presence isn't required.
Put Expenses on Auto-pilot
If you are manually cutting checks for your recurring monthly bills, just stop. Login to your bank and learn how to use their bill pay services. I have my rent payments and other recurring services like janitorial and bloggers set up to get their checks cut and sent to them every month whether I remember or not.
Warn Your Members
Before every extended vacation or holiday break I send an email to all members that says something like this, "I will be out of town for 10 days. Here's who you contact for building disasters, internet outages or urgent supply issues. Please lower your expectations by 10% for the next week."
Use Your Email Vacation Responder
I leave very explicit details on who to contact for what in my vacation auto-responder. I tell them who to contact/how and for what reason.
Don't Schedule Events During Your Vacations
This feels obvious to me but events are one of the most stressful parts of owning a coworking space. If I know I'll be out of town, I don't plan a single event to occur during those dates. It simplifies things and I know that only members will be occupying the space during my vacancy.
Invite Members to Contribute
Another common logic fallacy of coworking operators is that members expect to be given everything in return for their membership fee. If you are truly building a community and not just a commodity, you'll find that members are DELIGHTED to be given ways to help out. This makes them feel useful and often allows them to form deeper connections with one another, with you and with the space.
Here are some of the things Cohere members have happily contributed so I can take some time off:
- Watering the plants (you have at least one plant-crazy person in your space)
- Keeping an eye on the cream. We have a Chancellor of Cream, whose sole job is to monitor this
- Answering the door/signing for packages
- Giving tours to prospective members
- Being copied on the contact forms during my vacations and replying to inquiries
- Restocking toilet paper and paper towels
- Taking the laundry basket home to wash
- Wiping the desks down
- Replacing light bulbs
- Keeping the counters wiped
Writing this post has me wanting to head to the hills for a week off. Don't become your own bottleneck for your mental health. We all need time off and I'd argue that community managers need MORE time off than we think. We do hard emotional work every day and if we don't recharge ourselves, we don't stand a chance at helping everyone else.