Rise of the community manager


The emergence of sprawling co-working spaces catering to diverse start-ups and professionals and the rise of gig economy is set to send ripples down mainstream human resource (HR) departments. A modern, evolving workplace will need “community managers’’ equipped to handle the requirements of a diverse network of professionals functioning from a common work zone, say experts.

A community manager will be the link between the client (start-up/gig worker) and the management of the co-working space, says Azaan Feroz, founder and chief happiness officer, The Hub Bengaluru. 

Co-working spaces have already started investing in community managers and the demand for them is only set to rise, feel experts. As per estimates by Jones Lang LaSalle, by 2020, over 13.5 million professionals in India will work out of co-working zones. Experts feel by stationing resources at co-work spaces, companies, especially small and medium enterprises and start-ups can save up to 25-50% of their operational costs, most of which is targeted towards infrastructure and real estate. 

With a community manager in place, firms can focus on their core domains and leave other formalities to these trained managers, says Feroz.

Experts believe a community manager carries several distinct advantages.

Co-working zones are all about networking and meeting professionals from different firms and verticals, and community managers help co-workers through a series of connecting activities, says Himanshu Bindal, CEO and founder, One Co.Work. “Suppose a team needs a graphic designer and there is a freelance designer in the same zone, the two will be connected through a community manager.”

Sudeep Singh, chief evangelist and CEO, GoWork, feels community managers actively boost the morale of employees by incentivising work with fun events and activities. “They also address minor grievances. Their primary job is to bring people together and enhance their business ideas through the exchange of information and networking. Catering to the evolving needs of professionals and freelancers, community managers form a thread that binds the occupants of the space together in terms of work and social engagement.’’

Singh says community managers also perform the key role of getting professionals acquainted with potential mentors and investors. “They facilitate meetings between entrepreneurs and investors, or between several business owners wherein ideas get bounced off. They can also help professionals seek out answers to their questions regarding salaries, provident fund and employee benefits in a systematic manner.” 

Co-working spaces earn revenues from attracting and retaining professionals into their zones. They charge Rs 5,000–8, 000 per person per month depending on their infrastructure, location and facilities. And a community manager who helps boost the morale and workspace happiness is a bonus for these spaces. “The whole motive behind binding the community is sales – to more bring people into the space and retain them, keep them motivated so that they do not leave. It is basically smart selling,” says Bindal. 

Another crucial role a community manager plays is to prevent poaching. Sarthak Chabbra, director and co-founder, AltF CoWorking, says preventing professionals from being poached by rival companies assumes significant importance in the current era. “This has become crucial in the co-working industry as greater interaction between employees with other companies that operate under the same roof can lead to a higher attrition rate. This is effectively managed by the community manager who guides and motivates a professional to stick on for longer durations.”

Over 13.5 mn – Professionals in India will work out of co-working zones by 2020, as per Jones Lang LaSalle

Rs 5,000–8,000 – Co-working spaces charge per person per month depending on their infrastructure, location and facilities

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