Deskmag periodically publishes its Global Coworking Surveys in an ongoing effort to collect both data and trend information and get its finger on the pulse of this volatile industry segment. The most recent survey conducted focused on the role of organizations and associations in supporting the efforts of coworking owners and operators, from the local level to international level.
Not surprisingly the survey found that most of the interaction between coworking centers was happening on the local level with about 70% interacting with their local peers at least once per month. For this reason, most of the centers queried showed an interest in joining local organizations rather than national or international groups.
The number one benefit expressed by those in favor of joining organizations was to gain exposure. Most felt that by joining forces in some manner, especially on a local level, they could increase awareness and interest in coworking centers. Many have already created local programs to introduce the concept. A coworking community in the Boulder, Colorado area has created a “coworking week” with special events held at participating spaces. Toronto’s “coworking pass” allows people to touch down and visit various coworking spaces in the area, and Seattle’s Space Traveler Program is a permanent offer for visitors to explore local coworking spaces.
The second major advantage identified was the potential, through organizations, to provide communal benefits to pass on to their own members. These identified benefits ranged from discounted car sharing offers to professional services. CoworkingOntario in Canada is a good example, providing health insurance, a great benefit to freelancers who were previously denied insurance or couldn’t afford it. Another identified communal benefit was to incorporate financial counseling, which could be especially helpful in their efforts to gain funding.
These are the highlights and you can read the full survey results on the Deskmag site. What does this latest survey mean to the business center and coworking industry? The coworking community is coming of age and getting organized. Clearly coworking as an industry continues to carve its niche with new and different approaches to responding to a need for more flexible work options.
As the beat goes on, local and international organizations will emerge to serve both the owners and operators and increase visibility. How owners and operators make use of these organizations may make the difference between success and failure. They will need to be savvy and well connected on the local level to successfully differentiate themselves and work effectively within their communities. And, as is always the case, the strong will survive. We’ll continue to monitor these surveys and pass along emerging data and trends as they are recorded.