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Coworking Business Tips

9 certifications for coworking spaces and operators


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How do you compete? How do you differentiate? The answer is always in your community, but it might also be in who you are, and how you operate your building. 

Staying ahead isn't just about providing fast Wi-Fi or stylish work areas. It's increasingly about being authentic, and embodying the values of sustainability, wellness, and community — principles that resonate deeply with today's workforce.

This is where certifications come into play, offering a tangible way to demonstrate a coworking space’s commitment to these values and specific groups of people. What are they and why are these certifications valuable? Plus, how can they be effectively marketed within your coworking brand?

1. B Corp Certification: champion social and environmental responsibility

What It Is: B Corp Certification is not just a status but a community. It involves rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency. Coworking spaces that achieve this certification join the ranks of companies committed to doing good for the world.

Why It’s Valuable: Being a B Corp goes beyond profit; it's about purpose. For coworking spaces, this certification means adhering to practices that benefit the entire community, including fair pay, supporting local businesses, and environmentally sustainable practices. 

Marketing It: B Corp Certification can be a significant part of your brand story, appealing to socially conscious entrepreneurs and businesses. Highlight stories of impact — how your space has contributed to local communities or environmental causes. Show your members that choosing your space means choosing a better world.

2. Climate Active Certification: showcase a commitment to carbon neutrality

What It Is: Climate Active Certification is awarded to Australian businesses that have achieved net-zero carbon emissions through comprehensive measures like reducing carbon footprints and offsetting the remaining emissions.

Why It’s Valuable: Climate change is a critical issue, and companies are increasingly expected to play a part in the solution. By achieving carbon neutrality, coworking spaces not only minimize their environmental impact but also enhance their appeal to eco-conscious businesses.

Marketing It: Use your carbon neutral status as a key selling point in all communications. Create content around how members contribute to sustainability by working in your space and share data on the carbon emissions saved. It's about making each member feel they are part of a collective effort to combat climate change. Granted, it’s in Australia.

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3. WELL Health-Safety Rating: prioritize wellness and safety

What It Is: The WELL Health-Safety Rating focuses on operational policies, maintenance protocols, and emergency plans to ensure that buildings are safe and healthy for continuous use.

Why It’s Valuable: Health and wellness are paramount in today's world, particularly in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This certification reassures members that their health is a priority, with scientifically supported strategies to maintain indoor safety and wellness.

Marketing It: Promote the WELL Health-Safety seal across your marketing materials, highlighting specific measures you’ve implemented, such as enhanced air filtration systems, frequent sanitization, and wellness programs. This reassures potential and current members that your space cares for their well-being.

4. LEED Certification: Lead with energy and environmental design

What It Is: LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is a globally recognized symbol of sustainability achievement and leadership. It covers various aspects of energy efficiency, water usage, air quality, and building materials.

Why It’s Valuable: LEED certification shows that a coworking space is designed and operated to the highest environmental standards. It reflects a commitment to energy-saving, reduced water use, and better indoor air quality.

Marketing It: Use your LEED certification as a testament to your commitment to the environment in your promotional efforts. Offer tours that showcase the sustainable features of your building. Publish case studies or blog posts detailing the savings in energy costs and the environmental benefits achieved through your LEED-certified practices.

5. SUPER Certification: pioneer a plastic-free workspace

What It Is: The SUPER (Single-Use Plastic Elimination or Reduction) Certification would aim to recognize and certify businesses that successfully reduce or eliminate single-use plastics from their operations. In coworking spaces, this could involve initiatives such as providing reusable alternatives to disposable cups, plates, and utensils, eliminating plastic stationery items, and encouraging tenants to adopt plastic-free packaging and consumables.

Why It’s Valuable: Plastic pollution is one of the most pressing environmental issues, with significant impacts on wildlife, waterways, and oceans. By reducing single-use plastics, coworking spaces can significantly decrease their environmental footprint, appeal to environmentally conscious consumers, and lead by example in their business communities.

Marketing It: Marketing a SUPER certification could involve highlighting the practical steps the coworking space has taken to reduce plastic use, such as installing water filters to reduce bottled water use, providing reusable kitchenware, and hosting educational workshops on reducing plastic waste. Sharing success stories through social media, displaying informative posters within the space, and offering incentives for members who participate in plastic-reduction initiatives could further enhance engagement and brand image.

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6. WBE Certification: elevate women in business

What It Is: WBE (Women's Business Enterprise) Certification is specifically designed to authenticate that a business is at least 51% owned, operated, and controlled by women. Administered by various regional partner organizations and validated by the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) in the United States, this certification opens up new opportunities for women entrepreneurs by enabling them to access government and corporate contracts that aim to support diversity. There is also the Women Owned Small Business (WOSB) certification.

Why It’s Valuable: The WBE certification is more than a label; it's a gateway for women-led businesses to gain visibility and credibility in competitive markets. It plays a critical role in breaking down barriers in industries traditionally dominated by men. For coworking spaces, obtaining WBE certification can attract a dynamic community of women entrepreneurs and businesses focused on diversity and empowerment.

Marketing It: Promoting your WBE certification can significantly enhance your coworking space's appeal to corporations and small businesses led by women who are looking for a supportive and empowering community. It’s essential to highlight how your space not only supports women-owned businesses but also actively contributes to a diverse business ecosystem. Host events that celebrate and support women entrepreneurs, providing them with networking opportunities and visibility.

7. MBE Certification: foster diversity and expand opportunities

What It Is: MBE (Minority Business Enterprise) Certification formally recognizes businesses that are at least 51% owned, operated, and controlled by individuals from minority groups. This certification is administered by various regional councils as part of the National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC) or similar organizations depending on the region. The MBE certification is designed to open doors to significant contracting opportunities with corporations and government entities that are seeking to support and work with diverse suppliers.

Why It’s Valuable: MBE certification can be a game-changer for minority-owned businesses, providing them with access to exclusive contracts, networking events, and development programs. For coworking spaces, having MBE certification can attract a diverse array of entrepreneurs and businesses that value diversity and inclusion. It positions the coworking space as a hub of opportunity where minority-owned businesses can thrive and gain visibility.

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Marketing It: Highlighting MBE certification in your coworking space's marketing strategy can significantly enhance your appeal to businesses and entrepreneurs from minority groups looking for a supportive community that promotes diversity. Emphasize the networking opportunities, mentorship, and access to resources that your certified space offers. Sharing success stories and testimonials from minority-owned businesses that have benefited from being part of your coworking community can also resonate well with potential members.

Showcase events and workshops tailored to the needs and challenges of minority entrepreneurs, and highlight partnerships with other certified minority-owned businesses. Utilize newsletters, social media, and community outreach to spread the word about the advantages of connecting with a certified diverse business network within your coworking space.

8. VOSB and SDVOSB Certification: serve veteran entrepreneurs

What It Is: VOSB (Veteran Owned Small Business) and SDVOSB (Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business) Certifications are formal recognitions provided to businesses that are majority-owned by veterans or service-disabled veterans in the United States. Managed by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), these certifications aim to set aside specific government contracts for exclusively competitive and sole source procurement to businesses that qualify, ensuring that veteran-owned companies have greater access to federal contracting opportunities.

Why It’s Valuable: For coworking spaces, having a certification as a VOSB or SDVOSB can be a significant draw for veteran and military family entrepreneurs who are looking for community spaces that understand their unique experiences and can offer them tailored support. This acknowledgment serves not just as a business advantage but also as a mark of respect and recognition for veterans' service to the country.

Marketing It: Promoting VOSB and SDVOSB certification can greatly enhance a coworking space’s appeal to veteran-owned businesses seeking a supportive community that values their military background and dedication, or even resonate in a city that includes a military base. Highlighting this certification in your marketing materials can communicate your commitment to supporting the veteran community. Sharing stories of veteran entrepreneurs who have succeeded in your coworking space can inspire others and demonstrate the tangible benefits of joining your veteran-friendly space.

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9. DOBE Certification: enable disability-owned businesses

What It Is: DOBE (Disability-Owned Business Enterprise) Certification is designed to recognize and promote businesses that are at least 51% owned, operated, and controlled by a person or persons with a disability. Administered by organizations such as the Disability:IN in the United States, this certification facilitates the inclusion of disability-owned businesses in the supply chains of corporations and government agencies, opening doors to increased business opportunities and networking.

Why It’s Valuable: DOBE certification is crucial because it supports the economic empowerment of individuals with disabilities, fostering diversity and inclusion within the business community. For coworking spaces, this certification not only helps to dismantle barriers that people with disabilities often face in entrepreneurship but also showcases the coworking space as a leader in fostering an inclusive business environment.

Marketing It: Promoting your coworking space’s engagement with DOBE-certified businesses can significantly strengthen your brand’s appeal to a broader audience. It’s essential to highlight how your space supports and facilitates the success of disability-owned businesses through accessible design, tailored services, and dedicated resources. 

Host events, workshops, and seminars that address the unique challenges and opportunities faced by entrepreneurs with disabilities. Collaborate with disability advocacy groups to enhance your programs and ensure that your coworking space meets the needs of all members, thereby enriching your community’s diversity and vibrancy.

Weave certifications into your coworking story

When it comes to marketing these certifications, the key is integration rather than addition. Make these certifications a consistent and core part of your brand identity, not just badges on your website. Tell stories that resonate on a personal level with your members and their values. Use social media, newsletters, and community events to educate and inform your members about the importance of these certifications and how they contribute to a larger purpose.

Finally, remember that while certifications are powerful, they are most effective when paired with genuine, ongoing efforts to foster a community that cares — about the environment, about wellness, and about each other. In the competitive landscape of coworking spaces, these certifications not only add credibility but also deeply align with the values of your members, making your coworking space a place where they feel proud to work.

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