How to Manage Your Pop Up's Staff - dummies

How to Manage Your Pop Up’s Staff

By Dan Thompson

Managing your pop up’s staff can seem intimidating. Whether they’re friends you’re sharing the space with, a team pulled together from partner organisations, volunteers keen to support your cause or people you’re directly employing, putting systems in place makes your job easier.


Draw up clear timetables of all the times your pop up needs staff. Include the times when you’re:

  • Setting up and fitting out.

  • Preparing to open each day.

  • Open to customers.

  • Closing, tidying and restocking each day.

  • Packing up.

  • Making the space ready to return keys.

You need to decide which staff are needed at which times. Be aware that at certain times you’ll need extra staff – for example, you may well be very busy in the final few hours of setting up, just before you open, or need extra staff at an opening party. Remember to make sure that a keyholder is available for opening and closing each day.

After you have a timetable, create a blank table (your staff roster) and fill in which staff will do which shifts. Then follow this checklist:

  • Make sure that all staff members agree to the shifts you assign.

  • Give them all a copy of the final, agreed roster.

  • Keep a copy of the staff roster in the pop up for reference.

  • Remind staff members when they’re due in next.

Staff problems

Employing temporary staff means that both you and they have rights and responsibilities. Whether your staff members are employed on fixed-term contracts, as freelancers or as volunteers, be clear with them about what they’re expected to do and the hours they’re expected to work.

During a pop up, things can be fast and furious. Everyone involved is putting in a massive amount of energy, often working long hours to make everything happen on time. Often, people have made an emotional commitment, too, because they’re very involved in the cause, message or aim of the pop up.

In many ways, a pop up is less like running a shop, and more like putting on a stage play. At times, people are tired and egos clash, and you have to deal with staff problems.

These clashes are normal. When they happen, let people have their say without allocating any blame. Let them get it out of their system, but backstage and not in front of customers!

Accept responsibility but don’t take it personally. Identify the problem and take whatever action is needed to keep the pop up running. At the end of the day, ‘the show’s the thing’!