Let me sum this up for those of us in for a quick heist -

In short term: You Shouldn't,
In near future, maybe, and
In the long run, hell yeah!

The Wise Answer is - Yes, you do! Attempting to address all your concerns one by one, we shall be looking at some undisputed reasons why you should definitely have a secure and managed network at your coworking space to enhance customer satisfaction.

Two contrasting images of IT people depicting managed and unmanaged workspace networks
Managed Network vs Unmanaged Network

The Internet as we know it, is like an elixir for your coworking space business if not the holy grail itself. It is where all the work is happening. So if you want your customer satisfaction index to climb up, you need to make sure your clients connect to a speedy, secure and streamlined workspace Internet. For simplicity sake, we shall be referring to a network with management and security solutions in place as a ‘Managed Network’, while a network with default hardware and settings probably set up by your Internet Service Provider shall be referred to as a ‘Vanilla Network’. It is hoped that as this article draws to a close, you will be more than convinced why network management and security deserve a sure spot on your coworking space financial model.

Workspace Networks are Complicated

A complete statement in its own right, one very easy way of imagining the difference between a workspace network and a home network is by looking at the highway models.

Road diagram to show differences between a home network and a workspace network
Home Network vs Workspace Network

Here, while management and security don’t quite matter in the first case, they are an absolute necessity in the second. You simply don’t want to allow anything to run astray, else the smooth functioning of the entire system could get compromised pretty quickly.

You have little idea what is going on

Monitoring, securing and managing complicated networks is anything short of a challenge. There are multiple entry and exit points, only to top off multiple dens and alleys - printers, access points, CCTV, cloud drives, simply - every device that is connected to your network. Say, all of a sudden, an access point crashes, how do you know? All devices that were connected to it are going to try to automatically switch to the next closest access point, choking the bandwidth there.

In a second case, let’s say everything is fine, but again all of a sudden, the Internet becomes slow, sluggish and irregular. There is no way you can find out that someone sitting close to the access point was downloading a huge file (that was way larger than your estimates for data per user).

Frankly, without a proper monitoring and visibility, you can’t even tell (in real-time) whether the slow and broken internet your clients had to endure for hours was a result of condition one or two, or both (if you are having a bad day). Debugging is going to take hours worth of troubleshooting before the faults can be identified and rectified.

Time is the lock, Productivity is the key

No issue or fault can ever be big enough to halt men with perseverance in their tracks. You know that eventually your dedicated team of IT personnel complemented by the network engineer sent over by your ISP are eventually going to figure out what is wrong and the Internet will eventually be up and running. But then comes the difference between ‘eventually’ and ‘immediately’.

Graph comparing various parameters & aspects of an unmanaged network to a managed network
A generic average value comparison, the real boost to efficiency varies from one solution to another.

A self-managed network that is constantly and proactively monitored by a network management software can generate actionable alerts almost as immediately as there is some form of disruption. Next, leverage the visibility component of that software to figure out ‘where exactly’ the fault lies and ‘what’ has gone wrong to rectify it in real-time.

Network Security & Cybersecurity for your Coworking Space

With Cybercrime already costing the planet a whopping $6 Tn annually and still on a steady rise, the wisdom of having a robust network security solution shouldn't be questioned.

Today, malware can be delivered via almost every second form media around. Mail, Messenger, Video Link, almost everything that can be watched, shared, listened to or read. Talking of immediate danger? That ranges from a tracker bearing spam mail that is automatically filtered by Gmail, to a device update that unleashes ransomware threatening to shred all your data if you don't pay the attackers on time.

Despite the best coworker or employee awareness programs and the best information security practices in place, it is not possible for endpoint security solutions (antiviruses or internet securities) to scan, monitor, block and terminate all malicious elements from your network. We just discussed above why - it is simply too complicated with too many hiding and replicating spots for a malware. You certainly need more comprehensive protection to make sure cybersecurity doesn’t become a nightmare for your enterprise.

Data Security & User Privacy in a Shared Workspace

Quick fact: A massive 37% of churned coworkers have admitted that the main reason behind their discontinuance was a lack of data security and online privacy and a staggering 53% of these users admitted to have apprehended intellectual property theft.

Apart from data and intellectual property, some 17% of clients (mostly females) reported having been cyberstalked. The victims believe they were followed on social media by people they had seen at their workspace, but not known in person. In some of the cases, the stalkers had managed to land on the victim's cell phone contact!

Depiction of workspace stalking- a woman running away from her shadow
Workspace Stalking is a Crime! Don't do that.

Also, it's not just the coworkers who are vulnerable, your coworking space business on the whole is vulnerable to security and privacy breaches. Say some visitor commits a cybercrime while connected to your network - he/she is going to leave, but your business is going to be questioned when the cyber police start pulling strings. Telecommunication guidelines for most countries, in addition to rules, laid down under network management best practices clearly state that you must have the identity of every person who uses your Internet.

Network Security solutions like BhaiFi are smart enough to automatically capture user identity before granting access to the Internet - security meets seamlessness.

Fair Usage Policy/Data Limit - The Key to Sustainability

A few years earlier, we survived on 1GB of data for an entire month. Today, 1GB disintegrates like a shooting star, simply to keep your device and it's various apps in sync with your other devices and the Internet. Updates, NOT included - though you can go without them for a week let's say.

Graph depicting increase in data consumption over years
Graph depicting increase in data consumption over years

A glance at the graph defines how the future is going to be. Henceforth, an emphasis on judicious allocation of data and bandwidth becomes all the more important.

That is to say the least, if at any time there are more than 30 users or so, (50+) devices, they are capable enough of completely choking a bandwidth of 200 Mbps, evaporating upwards of a 1000 GB in a matter of hours. Simply watching a video on ultra settings (4K) can cost upwards of 7GB an hour. Then, of course, there is the whole Internet waiting to get downloaded.

Each to their own you bet?

People have demands and they want to be pampered. This is especially true in case of a shared workspace where thousands of operations are being carried out simultaneously under your watchful eye. Some of these demands naturally enough, pertain to the Internet.

From startups to associations to a group of freelancers, clients can request an isolated network for their organization out of safety and privacy fears. Then, some organizations might even want to go for different data, bandwidth and access policies for its different roles. For instance, the sales team needs access to social media but its per employee data/bandwidth usage can be capped at 10GB @ 5Mbps while on the other hand, a development team employee needs at least 50GB a day @ 20Mbps and access to utilities database.

a graphic showing different requirements for different departments in an office
Different Personas; Different requirements

In fact, even if you look at it from the resource optimization point of view, it is a total win-win situation. The only issue holding you back is that change management for vanilla systems is like a nightmare. This makes another very good reason for you to go for a managed Internet at your workspace.

Final Thoughts

Networks, throughout the past, have been categorized as hardware-defined. Server rooms have traditionally been seen as mini exchanges with the IT personnel there working like exchange operators. All this was meant to change in 1999 with the rise of software-defined networking. Introduction of new concepts and software-defined policies changed the industry forever ushering a global push towards more flexible networking.

Today, that revolution has been enhanced with the rise of software-defined networks powered by Artificial Intelligence that allows for ‘intelligent monitoring’ of the network rather than simple ‘monitoring’. BhaiFi is one such platform that allows you to do just that. It automatically secures & maintains your network to ensure that end customers enjoy unhindered access to a secure, speedy and high performing Internet. BhaiFi is capable of meeting all the challenges that we are discussing here, without even the need for ACTIVE HUMAN SUPERVISION.

graphic depiction of coworking space network management and security
Secure your Workspace Network before its too late!

With that, we come to the close of our time together. I'm sure by now we are pretty clear on how a managed network can mitigate revenue losses and help grow your coworking space business.

Least of your Worries

I know what is crossing your mind - pay money to save money? That too at a time when you have just started off or when, let's say, your business has been shaken by a raging pandemic? Then there are the high associated costs of network security solutions like firewalls, a limited client base, hiring constraints, fund constraints, right?

Remember we talked about the rise of software-defined networking and how it has led us to more scalable and flexible solutions. Once again, BhaiFi has your back! Enjoy occupancy-based pricing (pay as you use) complemented by its capability to integrate with your existing hardware, to plug performance into your network and play with profits.

Goodbye! I guess

So, that was all about why you must include network management strategy as an integral part of your coworking business plan. Hope I was able to help. Meanwhile, you might want to hook up with our email newsletter or if you are looking for a comparison between a hardware and software solution, don't forget to have a look here.

Anything else that crosses your mind, please feel free to decorate the comment section with your thoughts. See you next time!

Cheers and Happy Reading!