Member access when ownership/management is not there

Hey guys!

So, Cowork Gloucester VA is rolling along, and we're doing great so far (open since November and have 3 private offices leased, 1 dedicated desk, 2 part-time members, and 6 community members). However, we're still very green and have a lot to learn.

The main thing I am hoping you can give me feedback on is the issue of member access when you or a community manager is not on-site.

Because we're so new and don't really have capital behind us, we haven't been able to (and still cannot) afford hiring anyone to be a receptionist or community manager. This leaves me to have to be there pretty much every day from 9 to 5.

We allow our Private Office members to have the keypad combo and to come and go as they please, 24/7. Even that is somewhat of a risk, but we felt like we needed to limit liability in not giving that same unfettered access to the lower rungs of membership.

Are we being overcautious? Is there another way we could/should approach this? How do you handle it at your space?

Thanks in advance!

I remember how scary this was for me. So I sympathize.

But we have keypad access now for pretty much anybody who needs to come in. There is akways someone around and the coworkers here would surely not hesitate to speak up should something odd be seen. And I am oretty sure it would always bee seen.

Honestly if I don't trust somebody alone in the space I think they would not be a coworker. But admittedly this space is in a small town, with a small town mentality. In Amsterdam you have to be buzzed into the building and this is normal there.

We have twice had situations where coworkers were in a dispute (about something else but it had its impact) and then we did have a practice that one could only come in if the CM or I was there. This was to protect them both -- they were so mad that if a ballpoint pen had gone missing it would have been accusations of theft and derring-do all over the community.

Other than that it has not been an issue. The thing about a jeypad is you know who was there when the Unnamed Bad Thing occurred and this makes it easier to resolve.

Just my thoughts. You make the decision that's best for your group. Ypu probably alreasy know what it is in your quiet heart. :blush:

Thanks, Jeannine.

You confirmed what I was already feeling. We decided that we're going to just make sure we have an in-depth interview with everyone who signs up moving forward (more detailed than we have been), and we'll rely on the security cameras, the other members and our guts. We have lability insurance, and honestly, we don't have a ton of money invested (very much bootstrapping), so there isn't a ton anyone could steal that we couldn't replace in short order.

It's just all new to us.

Thanks again for the advice. It's truly helpful to hear from those who have walked the road we're just starting to walk.

I have the same issue at my coworking space in Nottingham, and it’s good to know that other people have also decided to just trust the members.

Hi!

If your goal is to have certain levels of memberships have 24/7 access, I would recommend have a camera system installed if you don’t have one already. This not only gives you some peace of mind—with remote access etc—but also gives members a sense of security. Simple background checks on new members as well as having a solid membership agreement that protects you as a space from liability of any members lost/stolen items.
The agreement on top of reasonable security measures will protect you fully from any legal grounds—unless gross negligence.

Hey Kevin,

My community has been in Denver for almost seven years now and we pretty much have always just given everyone a keycode no matter what plan they are on. Since we are in mountain time and most of our members our remote workers the typical 9 to 5 never really worked. Plus, this freed me up from having to be there all the time. If I was running late I didn’t stress about it because everyone could access the place. No biggie. If I was going to be gone for a few days then members would be just fine.

For seven years we have handed out codes and we only had an issue once. When we did have an issue it was peacefully resolved and the member cancelled his membership. We lean towards trust first. It’s been our policy and it’s treated us well.

Alex Hillman of IndyHall has written up a good post about an alternative way of handling a situation that still reinforces trust while being a little bit more closed than just handing keys off on day one. I recommend you do a few searches here and find it.

Thanks all! We definitely feel better about moving forward with allowing 24/7 access to all. It helped to be reassured by those of you who have walked down that road. Input appreciated!

Here’s the post that Craig mentioned: https://dangerouslyawesome.com/2014/07/the-neighborhood-watch-method-for-coworking-space-security/

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On Wed, Feb 28, 2018 at 3:03 PM, Kevin Haggerty [email protected] wrote:

Thanks all! We definitely feel better about moving forward with allowing 24/7 access to all. It helped to be reassured by those of you who have walked down that road. Input appreciated!

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Hi there!

Congratulations are in order!

We built our coworking space in Toronto knowing we would not have an onsite person for at least the first few years, for the same reasons. We use a key box entry system, and all members need to greet their clients at the door because it stays locked. We do random and planned visits to the space, and installed a camera that we can view remotely if we get a call that there’s an issue.

At our first location, we were able to set up the buzzer system to our cell phones, so my business partner and I could buzz Members in remotely - it worked great, but we had to live with our phones possibly ringing at any time so that was a bit much.

Many Members have asked to have a reception, and we let them know the cost per year and how that would break down in terms of a hike in their Membership fees per month. Then they nod, and say they can do without. Note the community decision, and it demonstrates you’ve been transparent, and that the decision not to have a reception was a community one.

Another option that some of our Members have raised, is having a volunteer rotation for the reception desk duties. People seem to stop at the understanding that not everybody will offer this, and it would need to be coordinated by a volunteer as well. Nobody steps forward, so we go on another day without a rotating volunteer team working as reception. Again, turning it back to the community is helpful.

We are in Toronto at a prime location, so rent is pretty high. We’ve asked our Members if they’d like to move to something a bit lower end / middle of the line, and they love the space so much they are willing to stay at this location without a reception, rather than move someplace else with one.

I suppose they key is to figure out WHY you need one, and if it’s really important. With today’s tech, most of us are very reachable and able to be of assistance no matter where we are!

Hope that’s helpful :wink:

Melanie

Inner Arts Collective

Toronto, ON

www.innerartscollective.com

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On Friday, February 23, 2018 at 10:30:35 AM UTC-5, Kevin Haggerty wrote:

Hey guys!
So, Cowork Gloucester VA is rolling along, and we’re doing great so far (open since November and have 3 private offices leased, 1 dedicated desk, 2 part-time members, and 6 community members). However, we’re still very green and have a lot to learn.

The main thing I am hoping you can give me feedback on is the issue of member access when you or a community manager is not on-site.

Because we’re so new and don’t really have capital behind us, we haven’t been able to (and still cannot) afford hiring anyone to be a receptionist or community manager. This leaves me to have to be there pretty much every day from 9 to 5.

We allow our Private Office members to have the keypad combo and to come and go as they please, 24/7. Even that is somewhat of a risk, but we felt like we needed to limit liability in not giving that same unfettered access to the lower rungs of membership.

Are we being overcautious? Is there another way we could/should approach this? How do you handle it at your space?

Thanks in advance!

I am thinking of installing cameras in my space. Where do you all place your cameras? Just at the front door or entrances or all around the space?

···

On Friday, February 23, 2018 at 9:30:35 AM UTC-6, Kevin Haggerty wrote:

Hey guys!
So, Cowork Gloucester VA is rolling along, and we’re doing great so far (open since November and have 3 private offices leased, 1 dedicated desk, 2 part-time members, and 6 community members). However, we’re still very green and have a lot to learn.

The main thing I am hoping you can give me feedback on is the issue of member access when you or a community manager is not on-site.

Because we’re so new and don’t really have capital behind us, we haven’t been able to (and still cannot) afford hiring anyone to be a receptionist or community manager. This leaves me to have to be there pretty much every day from 9 to 5.

We allow our Private Office members to have the keypad combo and to come and go as they please, 24/7. Even that is somewhat of a risk, but we felt like we needed to limit liability in not giving that same unfettered access to the lower rungs of membership.

Are we being overcautious? Is there another way we could/should approach this? How do you handle it at your space?

Thanks in advance!