A few things we’ve learned

Jacob and I regularly survey our members so we can learn more about their experiences at Office Nomads and with coworking. We analyze this data to help us create a coworking space that truly works for our members, and to ensure that we have our finger on the pulse of what makes our space work. We recognize there is a lot of value in sharing this information, so today we thought we’d post some interesting tidbits we’ve learned from our experience creating Office Nomads! Here are a few points we’ve pulled from two of our surveys: a Coworking Survey completed by members who have been with us for two months or more, and an Exit Survey of members who choose to end their membership at Office Nomads. Both of these are ongoing so the data changes over time and requires regular analysis. Each survey, as of June 2011, has been filled out by approximately 45 individuals.

Why do members come to Office Nomads?
It is a common misconception that individuals seek out membership at a coworking space because they need to share resources like the internet, coffee, or a fax machine. Through our experience starting Office Nomads, we’ve learned that individuals come to a coworking space as more of a lifestyle (or perhaps “workstyle”) choice as opposed to a services choice. Here’s a chart taken from our Coworking Survey results:

We think this makes it pretty clear that independent and mobile workers today don’t need more places just to plop down their laptops and get to work. What they need is a simple platform that enables an in-person connection with others during their workdays.

Some ideas about why they stay
What brings new members to our doors is not necessarily what is going to encourage them to maintain their membership at Office Nomads. We try to get a sense of what benefits our members experience by being a part of Office Nomads.

  • 2/3 of surveyed members report they have seen an increase in their productivity since joining Office Nomads.
  • 81% of surveyed members think of Office Nomads as a place where they “can meet and connect with potential collaborators for work.”
  • 83% of surveyed members report their “work/life balance is healthier than it was before [they] joined Office Nomads.”
  • 72% of surveyed members tell us their familiarity and knowledge of the Capitol Hill neighborhood (where Office Nomads is located) has increased since becoming a member of Office Nomads.

Why do they leave?
Part of being responsible coworking space owners is figuring out not only what brings new members to our doors, but trying to understand why members walk away. Attrition rates can only tell us how many people walk out the door, so we appreciate getting candid feedback when members depart.

The exit survey has been an invaluable tool because we can keep an eye out for red flags that do require our attention. But not every member who joins finds coworking to be the solution for them.  In fact, the exit survey process gives us an opportunity to make recommendations about where people might find a better fit. I’d recommend any coworking space operator to survey the folks who end their membership.

And now a few questions: If you own/operate a coworking space, does this data jive with what you’ve learned from your members? If you’re a coworking space user, does our membership data resonate with the reasons you’ve chosen to work out of a coworking space? Let us know – we’re curious! We’re taking all we’ve learned here in Capitol Hill and are trying to apply it to creating another space – you can read more about that process on our grow page.

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2 Responses to A few things we’ve learned

  1. Jayne Graham says:

    Hi. Thanks for sharing your data. It’s really interesting to read about your members’ motivations for joining the co-working space. We’re currently evaluating the survey responses of a similar number of co-workers who’ve attended our Colleagues on Tap co-working events – we don’t have a space ourselves, but organise events to bring people from home and small businesses into existing spaces (some are co-working spaces and others aren’t). Interestingly our results demonstrate that productivity increases when homeworkers get out of the home office occasionally and work in a co-working environment. Also we find that the people are considered to be more important than the place itself – community being of utmost importance, even on an occasional basis.
    We’ll be publishing the final results of our survey soon – let me know if you’d like me to send you a link 🙂 Jayne

  2. Keisha says:

    Hi, I’m looking to start a coworking space in south TX, and I was just wondering if I get a copy of your coworking survey and exit survey? I’m hitting a road block on what info I need to know to get started, and it would be a GREAT help to see how other spaces are structured. (Jayne, could I get a copy of your survey as well?)

    Thanks so much,