- In co-everything, selling space remains the primary way of generating revenue. However, instead of renting out space in an office to work on a computer, space is being rented in a doctor’s office to see patients or in a warehouse to distribute products.
- This new approach to coworking opens the door for people in other industries to benefit from the community and cost saving aspect of sharing space.
- The idea of selling space in other industries isn’t necessarily new. However, it’s expanding now at a rapid pace as the age of entrepreneurship rises.
This article was written by Kelly Karn, Content Manager at Optix.
Bringing people together and building community has always been central to the coworking experience.
For a long time, the idea of selling and sharing space for working was largely limited to knowledge workers — freelancers, digital nomads, and people who work independently on their computers — until now.
The idea of what it means to share space is broadening, and the future of space-as-a-service (SaaS) is entering a new phase. Welcome to the new age of co-everything.
What is co-everything?
The coworking business model is fairly simple — you buy a space and rent out smaller portions of this space to others. You package this offering of space with enticing amenities, networking events and the promise of joining a vibrant community of like-minded individuals.
This business model was initially limited to knowledge workers and others working in a corporate environment, but not anymore.
Now, the idea of sharing space is being applied to industries outside of the traditional corporate environment. I call it co-everything.
In co-everything, selling space remains the primary way of generating revenue. However, instead of renting out space in an office to work on a computer, space is being rented in a doctor’s office to see patients or in a warehouse to distribute products.
This new approach to coworking opens the door for people in other industries to benefit from the community and cost saving aspect of sharing space. It opens a world of possibilities when it comes to SaaS.
Why it’s happening
The idea of selling space in other industries isn’t necessarily new. However, it’s expanding now at a rapid pace.
We’re in the age of entrepreneurship
There are more entrepreneurs now than ever before, with over 582 million entrepreneurs worldwide (and that number increasing everyday). Thanks to technology, people feel empowered to make money on their own without needing to rely on larger organizations.
Take the fitness industry for example. Before, personal trainers relied heavily on gyms to increase their exposure and attract new clients. Now, one of the most effective ways of growing a personal training business is to develop a following on social media. This shift is empowering trainers to start their own fitness business, independent of the need for a large gym or corporate entity.
And while they may not need a gym to attract clients anymore, they still need a space where they can train clients and create content. Rather than invest thousands of dollars into building their own gym, they can rent space in a shared fitness facility otherwise known as a micro-gym. We call it, co-fitness.
Crowded markets mean more differentiation and niche opportunities
There are now over tens of thousands of coworking spaces worldwide, with a compound annual growth rate of over 17%. As the market matures, aspiring owners and operators are looking for new ways to differentiate themselves.
One way of doing so is to niche down on what you offer and who you offer it to. Think of co-everything as an extension of the coworking niche.
For example, if you want to build a coworking space to attract entrepreneurs of consumer product good start-ups, you’ll need to offer amenities tailored specifically to their needs including logistics services, packaging, and content creation studios. This was the inspiration for co-warehousing.
Think of co-everything as niche coworking spaces specifically tailored for the audience that they serve.
Commercial spaces are sitting vacant
Hybrid and remote work has shifted the way we think about and use commercial office spaces. As the return to the office continues to dwindle, owners of commercial buildings are forced to rethink how their space is being used to maximize their earning potential.
Some lease holders and property owners have turned towards management agreements to start coworking spaces, and this trend is likely to rise.
Large space vacancies also create opportunities for other shared space models to step-in and make use of vacant spaces. For example, a vacant floor of an office building can be converted to health practitioner rooms and create a medical coworking facility, or co-medical.
With the full-time in-office lifestyle slowly fading away, commercial real estate owners are looking to adapt. Hence, co-everything.
Shard space makes economic sense
Sharing and selling space is a smart economic choice for everyone. Owners of the space benefit by driving more revenue than they would make by simply renting the space out to one person. This explains the popularity of Airbnb.
Space users benefit by getting access to space, services, and amenities at an affordable cost — far less than if they were to go out on their own and try to do it themselves.
Because sharing space is largely beneficial for everyone involved, it’s safe to predict this trend is here to stay.
Examples in the world of co-everything
There are many coworking business models out there and this co-everything trend and the models that encompass it are rapidly evolving. Here are three examples of different applications of the coworking business model that have emerged in the co-everything era: medical coworking, micro-gyms, and co-warehousing.
What it is: Medical coworking is coworking for independent healthcare practitioners. Medical coworking spaces offer a range of spaces — from on-demand HIPAA-compliant clinical spaces to therapy and bodywork studios — for a wide variety of practitioners to use on-demand.
Many independent healthcare professionals struggle with burnout and feelings of loneliness. Medical coworking works to provide them with a community of others in their field who they can learn from and grow with, while also offering the opportunity to collaborate and provide more holistic care.
Who they serve: Medical doctors, acupuncturists, naturopaths, dieticians, therapists, and other healthcare practitioners
- Medical and clinical space
- Private offices
- Therapy spaces
- Front desk reception for patients
- Common areas for medical professionals and their staff
- Networking events and community building opportunities
What it is: Micro-gyms are fitness facilities designed for individual use and personal training. They are fully equipped with state-of-the-art fitness equipment to serve a variety of training needs, from functional fitness to Olympic weightlifting. They are often separated into multiple stations or rooms.
Personal trainers and other fitness professionals can book a station or room on-demand, with no commitment. This allows them to access a variety of equipment and see clients without needing to own their own fitness space.
Who they serve: Personal trainers, fitness coaches, dance or yoga instructors, and other fitness professionals
- Access to state-of-the-art equipment
- Community of personal trainers
- Front desk reception to greet clients
- Common areas and amenities such as showers, lockers, etc.
- Ability to grow a business independently
What it is: Co-warehousing spaces are large warehouse facilities of several thousand square feet. They are distribution centers complete with loading docks, packaging equipment, and daily drop-offs and shipping options.
These facilities enable small ecommerce business owners and owners of consumer product goods (CPG) companies to access warehousing amenities at an affordable cost. It also offers a community of others who are in the same industry, doing the same thing.
Who they serve: Ecommerce business owners, small business owners, owners of CPG companies
- Coworking spaces and private offices
- Flexible warehouse space
- On-site photography, videography, and/or podcast studios and equipment for rent
- Pallet jacks and loading docks
- Storage space
- Discount and partnerships with shipping providers
Industries that can benefit from sharing space
As the examples above illustrate, the possibility of what you can do when it comes to selling and sharing space is endless.
We’ll likely see this trend continue to expand into other industries, as landlords look for new ways of driving revenue and maximizing their earnings.
Some industries would easily benefit from the sharing of space. These industries include virtual gaming and esports, kitchens and other food-grade safe spaces, and beauty studios and hair salons.
What it means for you and the future of coworking
So what’s next for the future of coworking? We’re likely to see the coworking business model continue to be applied to any number of industries as sharing space becomes more widespread.
We’ll see more coworking spaces pop-up in more areas of the world, including niche spaces.
We’ll also likely see hybrid and remote work continue to drive how we think about the spaces we choose to work in.
For a long time, coworking was limited to people who could work from their computers. This is no longer the case. Now, people across multiple industries can tap into the benefits of sharing space with others and cultivating a strong, vibrant community