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07/31/2020

How to Adapt Your Coworking Business to Facilitate Growth

The COVID-19 pandemic is unlikely to stave the coworking industry’s rapid expansion. A temporary deceleration will likely precede a period of greater expansion.

Following 2020, the industry is expected to reach a yearly growth rate of 21.3%. In addition to more than 40,000 locations, the study projects membership to reach almost 5 million people by 2024. 

Compounded by historic growth, the global adoption of remote work facilitates the coworking industry’s expansion. The following strategies may help coworking businesses to participate in the industry’s projected growth:

  1. Cater to different member segments
  2. Provide relevant membership benefits
  3. Implement a new floor plan

These strategies may help coworking businesses to activate growth in a landscape influenced by a global pandemic.

1. Cater to Different Member Segments

Coworking businesses should adapt practices to accommodate members as businesses implement new policies to support their operations and employees.

In addition to the traditional startups and entrepreneurs, coworking spaces may be more populated by the following audience segments:

  1. Enterprise members
  2. Dynamic members
  3. Motivated landlords

In response to the coronavirus, it’s expected that businesses will shift away from traditional office spaces to distance their workforces. Rather than concentrate their employees in a central hub, large organizations may turn to regional spaces for employees to work. 

Corporate members will likely need greater resources than traditional coworking space members such as freelancers. These tenants prefer flexible leases and private spaces garnished with amenities.

To support corporate members, you should supplement open areas and hot desks with private offices and dedicated desks. Coordinate with these tenants to devise services to best satisfy their requirements. This includes: 

  1. Technology needs such as specific internet bandwidth
  2. Expectations for workplace security
  3. Private perks such as snacks

The significant movement towards remote work is likely to extend beyond the threat of COVID-19. A majority of office workers expect to work remotely at least two days a week following the pandemic.

These flexibly remote workers may become dynamic members of coworking spaces to strike a balance between work and home. To cater to these temporarily remote employees, you should provide flexible memberships such as hourly options. Additional resources to provide include online communities, mail services, and community events to mitigate the fatigue of isolation.

You should also consider the opportunity presented by partnerships with landlords who experienced significant challenges as a result of COVID-19. A greater demand for flexible workspaces and shorter-term leases by tenants may leave landlords in search of solutions. 

Consider a partnership with landlords who need to fill their spaces. Institutional landlords may be poised to implement their own coworking brands. However, smaller owners may seek to outsource such an operation. Rather than lose potential income, smaller-scale landlords may prefer to have you fill their empty spaces with members.

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2. Provide Relevant Membership Benefits 

Coworking businesses should update their membership benefits to satisfy shifts in members’ requirements in response to the novel coronavirus.

Whereas a quarter of Americans worked remotely a couple of years ago, more than half (62%) of employed Americans that were interviewed worked at home during the pandemic. As organizations invested in remote workforces, a complete return to an office is unlikely. 

This demographic shift along with the residual anxieties of the pandemic likely alter the benefits attractive to customers. You should direct these benefits to individuals’ current experiences. For example, a majority of employees feel more socially isolated than they did prior to the pandemic. To entice members, coworking businesses should develop virtual membership offers. You can safely build a membership by developing a partnership with virtual communities. These may expand beyond your members to those of others spaces and networks. You can also build community by establishing partnerships with notable brands. This helps to demonstrate levels of quality and attend to your target audience’s preferences. 

During the COVID-19 outbreak, more than half of consumers were more likely to buy from a local business instead of a national retailer. The primary driver of this preference was commitment to supporting their local communities and economies. You could supply free coffee from a popular local brand. For example, a coworking business in Washington, D.C. may consider a partnership with Compass Coffee — a coffee company that roasts in the District.  

You may also elevate the members’ experiences by offering flexible membership options. For example, an exclusively virtual membership may better cater to remote workers’ needs. Hourly and daily membership models may better cater to the needs of employees beyond the pandemic who expect more frequent remote opportunities.

3. Implement a New Floor Plan

Coworking businesses should adapt their floor plans to prioritize members’ preferences and safety.

Nearly half of businesses face a challenge with employees’ return to their places of work for fear of infection. As a result, it’s unlikely coworking businesses' traditional use of communal space will be accepted.

Coworking businesses are known for their communal spaces and shared amenities including hot desks: An arrangement where no employees have an assigned workstation. Following a pandemic, the uncertainty of a shared space’s recency of cleanliness will likely heighten a member’s anxiety. Fitting as many people into one location 

Prior to the development and wide-spread availability of a vaccine, coworking businesses should redesign their spaces to support physical distance and restrict movement in crowded spaces such as pantries and elevator banks. You should invest in greater availability of private amenities to promote distance but also safe collaboration.

You may consider implementing features associated with traditional office settings. Dividers and private offices reduce encounters between people from different teams and companies, reducing workers’ risk of exposure. 

An increase in private spaces may also help coworking businesses cater to a growing clientele. In 2018,  a popular coworking business’s enterprise customer base grew by 370%. As enterprises seek to distance employees, they may increase their investments in campsites — spaces where teams from one company co-locate with peers. 

By offering members’ a greater amount of privacy, coworking businesses may accommodate changes in preferences and support growth.

Adjust Services to Accommodate Different Work Preferences

Coworking businesses should implement new practices to encourage sustained growth.

As businesses rethink work policies long term, coworking businesses may see a greater demand from different clientele. You should adapt services to satisfy a likely shift in membership segments. By implementing new benefits, you may better meet the changed needs and preferences of members.

Coworking businesses may benefit from revamping their communal spaces. A floor plan that features private areas may better serve tenants in search of safe workspaces.

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