- 5th July, 2018
Coworking for Grown-Ups – Beyond the Beer Tap
86 blog posts
Shared office space and coworking started its life as a niche individual business Operated by people who really cared about their users and gave great service.
It then got taken over by the big guns with the cash and the wow factor. Shared office space seemed to be taking over every city centre street corner, just like Starbucks did in the late 90’s early 00’s.
Niche is back
Now niche is back, with owner managed independent co-working companies who are moving beyond free beer and pool tables. They aim to give shared office space real business differentials and set themselves apart from the multi-nationals. Offering grown-up extras such as great hospitality and service and real business support.
Nothing Beats Face to Face
Many of the big players sold their shared office space on the life-style image. On you taping in to networking opportunities with their vast number of members. The reality is that this does not work as it it first seems. Amongst the many, it is hard to make real connections and break in to existing working groups. In independent co-working spaces, the networking is much more organic and there is less competition for your product or service. You will add to your customer base (if this is what you want) because you have created real connections and relationships with your fellow workers. In reality the app with 1,000’s of members for you to tap into is just like looking on google. People are not interested just because you are a member at the same shared space. Nothing beats face to face time and relationship building.
Gareth Eastwood is a member of Workplace Manchester and he says “ I have never openly tried to sell my services. However, I have got to know most of the members at Workplace and what they do. In turn we have chatted about what I do and then when they have had a need for a graphic designer they have asked for help”.
As the industry and shared office space, becomes more crowded, with new flexible workspaces opening almost daily, operators are bringing in other lifestyle elements into their spaces to maximise the revenue return on the property. A Colliers International report suggests.
“Flexible workspace operators that can provide a curated, holistic offering should see ready demand. Given that most people, not just digital knowledge workers, now see their working day extending beyond what could be considered normal working hours,” the report, Flexible Workplace Outlook Report – APAC 2018, says.
Creating Amazing Experiences
Louise Pollard of Workplace says “We want to create an amazing experience. We were not about just rent some space, expose the ceiling, go to Ikea for chairs, give someone a wifi password and let them in,” Rather than being a landlord and sitting back and saying ‘this is the space, take it or leave it’, you come here for an experience. It’s all about service, it’s all about the hospitality.”
The founder admits that competition for shared office space has exploded, leading to an evolution towards “the complete experience” far beyond just desks and chairs. “We came from the hotel industry and saw this evolution take place in that industry. We are now taking this experience through to your work life. It is natural for us all to want more, to be more and expect more. As a shared workspace provider we have to work with what makes our members happy. If we don’t do this we will get left behind and we will let our members down. Workplace won’t do that, we are always trying to be ahead of game and listen to our members.”
Creating a Community
Global operators are spending millions and doing interesting things to lure their “community” in to shared office space. In-house baristas, wellness rooms, prayer rooms, music recording rooms, free beer and happy hours with full on bars available are now the norm as each provider competes for their place in the market.”
However, research by Office Hub found that less than 4 per cent of people seeking co-working and shared office space really care about these extra offerings. This research shows that these are all a real wow factor and do entice people in. Over time these elements can become distracting and many people move beyond wanting these so called perks in their work place. The customer base is not naive. These add on’s are marketed as free but they know that ultimately they are paying the price for these gimmicks.
Environment you are proud of
So when you have been wowed and are over all of these treats what is it that you really want from your workplace. Well, you want to make money and this all boils down to being as productive as you and your team can be. When you and your business grows-up then you want to be able to feel like you are getting value, great service and hospitality. You want the environment to be one you are excited to show off to your future employees and customers. Above all you want to feel important and wanted. Private operators, whose own success is dependable on your happiness are more likely to work harder to ensure your own success and fulfilment.
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