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Securing the ‘self’ in a co-working space: Steps to control employee poaching in shared work-spaces

10th Jan 2019
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Co-working spaces, one of the biggest by-products of the ‘gig economy’ phenomenon, have become all the rage in the Indian as well as the global business ecosphere. A hip, social-life focused, fully equipped office space that serves great coffee and probably has beer on tap-what more could modern professionals ask for? Moreover, lots of networking opportunities, interaction with different enterprises and entrepreneurs and resource-sharing sessions, all of them contribute to make these spaces a lucrative bet.

However, not all is hunky dory for businesses on the co-working front. While cost-effectiveness and offloading of management workload can be great benefits, organizations that opt for co-working spaces often find it difficult to deal with a new nemesis in such set-ups: easy employee poaching.

‘Moving on was never this easy’-Why co-working contributes to higher attrition

The decision to resign from a job involves a lot of work beforehand and afterwards. Looking for other jobs with similar profiles and pay, evaluating the allied factors such as location, time to transport, trying to source information on the brand identity and the work culture and so forth. During the interview, an applicant also gets about an hour at the most to convince the interviewer about his/her skill set and ability.

Co-working spaces negate all these factors. Working under the same roof, one is acutely aware of how the other organization works. Some friends have already been made, and the concerned department head or leader is already aware of a professional’s capabilities, that is why he shows interest in the first place. The employee also knows that shifting to the other organization will require minimal change as the office is set-up in the exact same location where he/she is used to working out of. In such a situation, certain steps become necessary to stop the drain of talent, especially since these spaces are not driven by a particular organization’s rules and interaction with competitors’ representatives cannot be controlled.

‘Keeping them safe’- Steps co-working spaces & their occupants should take to avoid employee poaching

Privacy rules-It is not often possible to alter the physical layout of a co-working space to ensure minimum interaction with other occupants. Therefore, employees need to be given a clear set of instructions regarding what constitutes ‘networking’. However, co-working spaces must still try to assign a separate space to members of a particular organization and equip it with the requisite amenities to restrict the need to move out.

Formulate deterrent policies-A co-working service needs to critically evaluate its work policies and ethics. For instance, many co-working spaces allow its occupants to put up notices for the vacant profiles. This allows employees of other companies to easily apply and due to the proximity of location, they have a first-mover advantage. Spaces thus need to include exclusive secrecy guidelines regarding their clients’ requirements, to avoid such a scenario.

Ensuring a controlled environment during networking sessions-Many co-working spaces thrive on creating a community environment that promotes free exchange of ideas, opportunities and resources. They organize sessions with business leaders and investors which double up as unique networking opportunities. While avoiding such events altogether can be detrimental for a company, the co-working space needs to ensure that employees/ representatives of particular enterprises stay together. Private seating arrangements, exclusive member tables etc. can be booked to restrict interaction.

Employing a community manager-Many co-working spaces have a community manager who looks after the needs of the occupants. These officers can act to restrict too much interaction between different members or act quickly on any instance of ‘employee poaching.’ Enterprises can remain in touch with the person to identify any vulnerable cases before the actual poaching even takes place.

Many co-working spaces often give the argument that ‘employee poaching’ is a marketable feature for their business. For every single organization, there are hundreds of employees. So the target market that benefits from poaching is bigger. However, that is not an ethical argument to make as securing the best interest of their clients is the duty of the service provider, i.e. the co-working space owners. Thus, co-working spaces need to incorporate stringent actions in their operational DNA to tackle this problem. The success of a co-working space provider is measured by the growth of its member companies, and prevention of employee poaching will surely help the members, as well the space, to grow collectively.  

 

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