The sharing economy has revolutionized many industries, including the transportation industry. Ridesharing has become the top choice for mobility for many individuals across various countries. And for good reason: it’s flexible, affordable, and eco-friendly.
The way people move from point A to point B is drastically changing, and this changed has been noted by different types of companies and business. Take for example the real estate industry, both residential and commercial. Real estate landlords have taken notice of the changing habits of its tenants, and some have taken action to embrace this change by offering subsidies for car-sharing companies as a way to attract and retain clients.
How will this affect flexible workspace and coworking operators? The answer remains somewhat inconclusive, at it depends much on the location of workspaces. It’’s important to note that operators are beginning to enter suburban markets at a much higher pace than ever before, making an impact in areas that are especially close to public transportation and vibrant downtowns.
“When you are in the suburbs, you run against the wall that is parking,” said David Simson, a vice chairman at a real estate firm with prominent commercial holdings in New Jersey and New York in a recent Realtor.com article. Another real estate firm, Hugo Neu, which owns and operates a coworking space in Kearny, New Jersey began a program this March that offers a $50 monthly credit to any tenant without a car to help them commute to the space. Nick Shears, the director of leasing at Hugo Neu, added that although many of his coworking tenants do not own cars, only a handful of them have been taking advantage of this credit using half of the overall available balance that has been allocated for this program.
From the purview of an urban market such as Kansas City, Missouri, “it’s too early to say if our ridesharing partnership has increased our member base,” stated Sarah Fustine, a partner in Think Big Partners, the management arm of Think Big Coworking. The team at Think Big has partnered with Rideshare KC, a publicly funded program of the Greater Kansas City Area Transportation Authority to encourage ridesharing and reduce environmental impact.
Think Big is currently taking part in the 10th Annual Green Commute Challenge, a contest with other Kansas City enterprises to see which company can track the most ridesharing commutes during the highest emission months of the year, June through the end of August.
“Coworking is a part of the rise of a shared economy,” Fustine said. “Spaces like Think Big Coworking need to support other companies working towards a similar goal of efficiency and use of resources. By partnering with Rideshare KC, we are encouraging our members and entrepreneurs to be conscious of how they use all of their resources and assets to contribute to a better world,” she added.
While incentivizing tenants in apartment buildings with amenities such as gyms, child care and now on-site coworking spaces–adding services to attract more business is nothing new for residential landlords. Irrespective of the environmental benefits, should the flexible office and coworking industry fall in line to become more service oriented? With the verdict still out, it may behoove commercial real estate operators and more specifically, flexible office landlords, to take their cues from their residential counterparts.
“Luxury offices are no longer just modern aesthetics and good WiFi, just like granite countertops and stainless steel appliances are not a luxury in multi-family apartments. Real estate is certainly moving towards concierge services like dog walking, package management, smart solutions and ridesharing. I think we will see more services in more buildings and it’s probably sooner than you think,” Fustine said.