Coworking has become popular in recent years due to an increased desire to work in nontraditional, creative work environments. Coworking is a collaborative work style in which self-employed individuals and individuals working for separate companies share a workspace, facilitating the exchange of ideas and knowledge in a cutting-edge way. While there are countless benefits to this work style, it’s still in its beginning stages and susceptible to hiccups and unforeseen challenges. For this reason, there are other industries, such as the hospitality industry, that can help guide the newer coworking space industry to success. So what can coworking spaces learn from the hospitality industry? A lot, it turns out.
Feels Like Home
The success of coworking spaces is largely based on the amenities offered to its renters. While amenities such as quick WiFi, comfortable desks and chairs, and coffee machines were initially incentivizing, they have become standard as more coworking providers have entered into the market. The next step, then, is to make these spaces feel as comfortable and familiar as home, which is essentially the mission of the hospitality industry. A significant part of this transition includes integrating a concierge and network-building aspect into shared workspaces as well as other valuable, highly accommodating resources.
The hospitality industry is predicated on meeting the various needs of guests and gathering feedback to improve accommodation. To that end, upping the stakes on customer service in coworking spaces represents a significant jump the coworking sector should be willing to take — from simply providing creative workspace to meeting the specific needs of the individuals in the workspace. For example, shared workspaces can emulate a hotel’s concierge service by hiring a front desk attendant to direct visitors and field questions about the various businesses throughout the building. In addition, coworking spaces can further incentivize members to join the space by offering parking perks the way hotels do for guests. It may not seem like much, but you’d be surprised how quickly people gravitate toward free parking, especially in a city like LA where finding parking is a constant struggle and paying for it is a financial burden. Also, the presence of private vendors in coworking spaces appears to be borrowed from the hospitality industry’s strategy of offering specialty products to hotel guests.
Hotels Offering Coworking Spaces
The hospitality industry has clearly detected the potential of merging coworking and hotels — certain hotels are actually bringing coworking spaces into their lobbies. While the merging of these two entities boasts several mutual benefits, the benefits for the hospitality industry are major. First off, providing shared workspace opens up hotels to an entirely new audience and community that the hospitality industry would otherwise not have access to. In addition, by charging a rental fee, hotels can generate new revenue that can then be funneled back to the hotel’s development.
Putting it to the Test
Hotel Schani Wien in Austria has successfully integrated coworking services into its lobby, and the results have been indisputably positive. The coworking space includes 12 desks that hotel guests can rent for free, while locals can choose between different daily rates or rent a desk for the month for the price of €190. Besides the additional revenue from the coworking rental prices, individuals using the coworking space are encouraged to sign up for the hotel’s newsletter, bringing the focus back to the hotel that made this set-up possible in the first place. Ana Komarek, Hotel Schiani Wien’s PR and Marketing Director, says that the implementation of the coworking space in the hotel has had an invaluable impact on the hotel’s business model, noting that the lobby is never empty, with up to 20 coworking passes sold at a time. Additionally, the renters are satisfied with the technology and productive space the hotel has to offer.
Whether the overlap of the coworking and hospitality industries takes shape in the form of coworking space providers learning a lesson or two from the hospitality industry or in more tangible ways—such as hotels literally transforming lobbies into shared work space—it’s clear that the two industries learn a lot from each other. As coworking space providers make concerted efforts to have work feel like home, it seems clear that the hospitality industry is one of the best guides for this mission.