As a coworking space software vendor, we onboard community managers and coworking team members all the time, training them in our software for their spaces. And quite often we get a quick note from management that the person we trained is leaving… and we get to do it all over again.
Change is hard. And so much in coworking is about embracing change and being flexible. But offboarding team members has facets to it that are bittersweet at best, and downright unpleasant at worst. So when a team member gives you that two weeks (hopefully), have a plan ahead of time.
“It may seem easier to simply say goodbye and move on — especially for small businesses like coworking spaces, where you’re probably already focused on finding a replacement,” said veteran HR Director Leigh Sweet. “But just as you want to have a good experience onboarding an employee, offboarding matters to everyone.”
As Brené Brown teaches, vulnerability and courage go hand in hand. Embracing the end of professional relationships can be difficult for both employer and employee — yet it’s an integral part of our growth as leaders and as people. Offboarding employees in a coworking space can be an opportunity to learn, reflect, and strengthen the bonds that make us human.
By approaching the end of working relationships with empathy, honesty, and openness, you’ll not only create a positive experience for departing team members, but also reinforce the values that build your strong, resilient community. Because at the end of the day, you are cultivating a coworking space that supports, nurtures, and empowers each person to show up as their authentic selves, even as they transition to new beginnings.
“There is a difference in process from having to fire an employee to having someone give notice,” said Director Sweet. “The liability varies, and therefore the process should be unique. In this instance, an employee or staff member has said they are leaving your employment. This exit interview process helps everyone through a transition.”
Once an employee has provided notice of their intention to leave, it’s important to:
Don’t rely on memory or play this by ear. Create a comprehensive offboarding checklist to ensure that all necessary steps are taken. This list should include:
Make sure these steps are visible and agreed upon ahead of time. Don’t blindside employees by removing access and taking back property at random times. In fact, the more they can participate in the process, the better for everyone.
This can be an awkward conversation — if you let it be one.
“It’s tempting to skip the exit interview,” said Director Sweet. “It can be uncomfortable for both people, particularly if you don’t have someone dedicated to human resources. But for the exiting employee, it’s an opportunity to share their experience and provide valuable feedback to the company. It’s about closure. And for you, the employer, it can provide qualitative and quantitative data.”
Include some of the follow questions in your exit conversation:
“From the data I collect from these conversations, I can report metrics to my leadership team and board members to shape policies and make improvements,” Sweet explained.
One of the big takeaways from your exit conversation is a chance to capture the experience of your former employee, and share it with your staff. Schedule time for departing employees to share their knowledge with relevant team members. This can include:
Even if it’s not ideal, you want to recognize that a member of your community is leaving. Not only does it let that person know their work matters, it sends a message to your staff and members that nobody goes unseen in your coworking space. Organize a little going away event or gathering to show appreciation for your departing employee’s contributions. This can include:
A few weeks after the employee has left, consider reaching out to:
Ultimately, the goal is to facilitate a smooth offboarding process while celebrating the unique contributions of each team member at your coworking space. Hopefully, you’re able to recognize the importance of engaging in heartfelt conversations, acknowledging the emotions that come with change, and embracing the lessons learned from staff who are moving on to new adventures.
This post is brought to you by the team at Coworks.
Coworks is the only mobile-first, experience-driven platform with a mission to be delightful for your members and managers alike. With booking, billing, member directory, embedded forms, reporting, and resources, Coworks delivers automation, optimization, and engagement. The platform is designed for traditional coworking, enterprise flex space, incubator and entrepreneurship centers, social clubs, makerspaces, and other niche community operations.