GCUC 2019: What Coworking Members Really Want

At GCUC USA 2019 in Denver, Colorado, industry leaders from Desmag, Emergent Research and Instant Group discussed what people want out of coworking spaces.
  • During a research roundtable at GCUC USA 2019, industry leaders discussed what coworking members are looking for.
  • The panel identified 11 key things that are currently in demand, utilizing data from Instant Offices.
  • Among them, coworking members want 24-hour access, showers and changing facilities, outdoor space, and bike storage, among others.

During a research roundtable this past week in GCUC Denver, Carsten Foertsch from Desmag, Steve King from Emergent Research, and James Rankin from Instant Group talked about the coworking industry’s massive growth and what people really want out of coworking spaces.

Last year, Allwork.Space published an article titled “Coworking is the New Normal and These Stats Prove It”; data presented by Foertsch, King, and Rankin confirm that coworking continues to lead the way in terms of how people want to interact with office real estate across the globe. As King rightly noted, “a lot of corporate offices now look like coworking spaces.”

For starters, the growth of coworking from 2007 to 2019 is impressive. According to King, “the rapid growth of the industry has been driven by three customer waves: independent and remote workers, startups and microbusinesses, and large organizations.” King also believes there is a fourth wave of growth coming, one that will be characterized by geographic and niche expansion.

Carsten Foertsch from Desmag, Steve King from Emergent Research, and James Rankin from Instant Group discussing the coworking industry’s massive growth.

According to Instant Offices’ research, demand for flexible workspaces will continue to grow every year. Rankin mentioned that 75% of occupier searches start online, which means that operators need to have a strong online presence if they want to catch potential customers’ attention.

Still, even with massive growth and uptake, coworking and flexible workspaces only represent a small part of the entire office real estate stock. It’s one of the reasons why experts also believe the coworking market is not yet saturated.  

Coworking’s Unique Selling Points

Last year, Fast Company published an article titled “Here are a Bunch of Cowork Startups Saying the Same Thing about how Different They Are”. The article basically said that the majority of coworking operators use community as its primary selling point, which is a mistake, because although community is a key element of coworking spaces, it is no longer a differentiating factor.

Suggested Reading: “Is Community Enough when Marketing Your Coworking Space?

Below you will find the top 11 things that Instant Offices has found customers want from their flexible workspace. Though Rankin couldn’t exactly say how often these amenities are actually used by members, these are the criteria that potential clients are searching for.

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    1. 24 hours access
    2. Bespoke office layout
    3. Fitness suite
    4. Showers and changing facilities
    5. Networking events
    6. Outdoor space
    7. Bike storage
    8. Childcare facilities
    9. Secure lockers
    10. Pet-friendly
    11. Bar facilities

    Coworking members want 24-hour access, showers and changing facilities, outdoor space, and bike storage, among other requirements.

    According to Instant Offices, there are approximately 35,000 flexible workspace locations across the world. Rankin believes this number is actually higher, which means that there’s a vast amount of choice for people. Given that coworking offerings will continue to increase in the future, it’s important that operators know their true value proposition and unique selling points, and more importantly, that they’re effectively sharing it with the world.

    An Eye to the Future

    Rankin stated that the market will continue to consolidate, 72% of operators expect to see further consolidation and 58% see consolidation as an opportunity.  The industry will also shift as more real estate players and large corporations enter the industry. There’s also going to be a shift in where coworking spaces open: businesses are increasingly moving into secondary and tertiary markets.

    Suggested Reading: “Is Suburban Coworking the Future of Work?

    This, however, doesn’t mean primary markets won’t still be in the front sight. If you’re looking to expand your flexible workspace brand, keep the following 5 key elements in mind when picking your next market.

    5 Factors that Relate to Market “Hotness”

    The panel discussed the key things that make a market ‘hot’.

    Additional Tips and Takeaways

    • Flexible workspace operators need to be ready to cater to the demands of larger clients, especially as flexible workspace inquiries continue to get bigger, some even surpassing 50+ people.
    • Flexible workspace users are actively seeking HR advice, so make sure your flexible workspace programming covers this topic.
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