- With competition in some coworking markets rising, a number of spaces are standing out from the crowd.
- Their differentiation doesn’t come from expensive fit-outs or perks. It simply comes from knowing what their target market needs, and giving it to them.
- From a niche space created for travel industry professionals to non-committal daily drop-in passes, these spaces have got their members’ needs on lock.
As the shared space sector reaches peak saturation in some markets, it’s time for coworking operators to pin down just how they can differentiate themselves from the competition.
In a time when beer, coffee, and complimentary snacks are considered a given, those little extra perks won’t do. To really capture a worker’s loyalty, coworking centers across the globe are coming up with innovative offerings that go beyond the tangible; some even go virtual.
These spaces are proving to other office owners that you don’t have to throw a whole lot of cash on unnecessary flourishes to rise above the pack; you just have to know your workers, what they need, and how to give it to them.
Here are some prime examples.
Coworking Space Tailored to Specific Workers
Voyager HQ, a coworking space located in New York, is an embodiment of how niche, curated spaces can help foster the coworking community on a career-oriented level.
Voyager HQ was created for travel industry leaders, by travel industry leaders. Users have first-hand access to like-minded entrepreneurs and those interested in investing in the travel community, and if you don’t live in New York, there’s a free digital membership available, which offers information about events, job opportunities, and also provides three days access to Voyager HQ NYC every three months.
The Wing is another US-based office that focuses on a specific need in the coworking scene. Co-founder Audrey Gelman initially conceived The Wing as a shared space where women could stop by and freshen up after work, as opposed to having to trek through New York City to get home.
Over time, it organically turned into a women’s only coworking and community space with offices across the US, which now also has outposts in London and soon Canada. Because its audience is targeted, The Wing is able to satisfy the needs of its clients comprehensively.
A Place for Wandering Workers
Digital nomads are no strangers to the coworking community, and there are plenty of savvy spaces doing what they can to capture this mobile market.
Angkor Hub in Cambodia’s Siem Reap has its digital nomad service on lock. As well as offering coworking space, Angkor Hub also has co-living facilities for those looking to harness productivity 24/7 and connect with like-minded workers and travelers.
Their stay packages are full service and also include daily meals, transport to and from the airport, laundry services and bicycle access, which truly blurs the line between vacation, travel, and work life.
The Free-Access, Non-Committal Pass
In Tokyo, a city where working hours are long and space is at a premium, the coworking scene has been a little late to bloom. But some innovators are coming up with unique solutions to the problems that plague the scene.
HAPON Shinjuku has been running for over a decade now, beating out the arrival of the big name players like WeWork and The Hive (Asia Pacific’s fastest growing network of coworking spaces). Just minutes away from Shinjuku Station — the busiest train station in the world — its central location is one of its greatest perks, especially for digital nomads and travelers looking to get work done while simultaneously seeing as much of the city as they can.
Unlike other Asian nations like Indonesia, Cambodia, and Thailand, Japan is a pricey place to visit. Daily living expenses can far outnumber the bargains found in southeast Asia, but if you know where to look, living as a digital nomad is possible, and it’s something the team at this Tokyo space have been actively trying to promote.
HAPON Shinjuku has always offered drop-in daily passes, but in recent months they’ve also introduced a ‘Traveller Ticket’ pass. What the pass entails is simple but effective; the ‘Traveller Ticket’ is a discounted book of passes to use the space which can be pre-purchased at the office desk. There are no signup fees, no additional membership fees, no rules about when to use the tickets, and the tickets can be shared with team members, too. It’s a type of flexible non-committal option that’s the antithesis of overblown subscription model memberships.
Daily drop-in passes in central Tokyo sit at the ¥2,000 ($18USD) per working day range, equalling ¥40,000 (or $370 USD) per month for a regular 5-day working week. If you use the HAPON Shinjuku’s traveler ticket system, a month will cost ¥28,000 yen ($258USD) for the exact same thing. The HAPON Shinjuku case shows how sometimes, to give more, you just need to strip back; the simplest, most straightforward solution is the most effective.
This ‘pay as you use’ model is also being implemented in additional coworking space services across the globe, with offices like Cuckooz Nest in central London offering childcare services for working parents. Rather than charging a flat monthly childcare fee, this system allows parents to slot in extra work even when they’re with the kids; the service costs £10.80 ($14USD) per hour to £20 ($25USD) per hour depending on how frequently workers use Cuckooz Nest.
The Virtual Coworking Space
Of course, coworking spaces aren’t just for remote freelancers or digital nomads. Large teams that span multiple locations are now using shared office spaces as a way to offer flexibility, save money, discover new opportunities, and build a further reaching community. However, when you manage a team that’s not bound by a single locale, communication issues can become great black holes of productivity, and it’s here that virtual coworking spaces come in.
Part virtual reality, part online chatroom and part coworking, virtual spaces are just that — online ‘offices’ where workers can live the typical office dynamic without actually being with any workers in the flesh. Sococo is one of the most established examples. The service offers companies a virtual space complete with meeting rooms, boardrooms, chill out and catch up areas as well as private offices. Each worker is represented by an avatar, and these avatars in the virtual world occupy the space of the virtual office the same way any regular person would.
Having a virtual space seems almost counterintuitive, replicating in the digital realm something that some workers are trying to escape in the physical sense. Also, in light of other applications like Slack, appear.in, and Google Hangouts, it may not be covering a lot of new territories.
However, like all the other communication tools out there, it may just be a matter of figuring out what suits your needs. According to a feature by Lucy Elkin, founder of myworkhive.com, some workers found that the virtual illusion of a common space was enough to help workers “maintain a sense of closeness and trust.”
But ultimately coworking is about communication, teamwork, production and freedom, and this virtual office concept, like all the other dynamic spaces across the globe, is offering just that.
Just remember that when competition is tight, innovative ideas will always come out on top.