The temperature outside might be falling fast, but inside, coworking is cooking up something so fiery it might just set the new year ablaze with possibilities.
Forget the flurry of January articles claiming they know how the year will unfold for the flexible workspace industry. We’ve enlisted the virtuosity of Marc Navarro - celebrated coworking expert, consultant, speaker and writer - to bring you the honest guide to coworking mainstays for 2024.
Indie spaces strike back.
“More than a year ago, I told Manuel Zea of CWSC that something important is slipping under the radar for coworking, and that’s the resurgence of independent coworking spaces.”
Marc explains that prior to 2020, there was a school of thought that believed independent coworking spaces were going to disappear. Instead, the last four years have had a catalytic effect on the adoption of remote work, resulting in spaces focused on freelancers seeing an exponential rise in demand.
This type of user, when they have the opportunity to choose, is more likely to opt for a freelance workspace that really focuses on the needs of their community, rather than one that caters just as easily to startups or large companies.
Today, independent spaces offer facilities with a quality that matches, if not exceeds, established flexible workspaces, alongside a plan to energise the community inside. This recipe for success will ensure there are plenty of proverbial ‘sold out’ signs hanging outside independent coworking spaces in 2024, where building a community is part of the business model. A community-driven ethos gives such spaces an edge against larger ones that could use economies of scale to slash their costs.
A pleasant side effect of prolific remote working is the fact that now, flexible workspaces can flourish in locations previously too complex to consider.
“I won’t go so far as to say that rural coworking is going to be the next big thing, because I’ve been hearing this since 2015. However, the cemented shift in people’s priorities has made it more feasible than ever.”
Today, spaces in the suburbs, or in rural areas, have a greater opportunity at a time when more and more industries are adopting remote work. In more rural areas, such coworking hubs will help combat isolation and act as a haven for professional relationships to flourish outside of the city.
More so than this, additional industries will use coworking as a lever to expand their core business - either as part of a marketing strategy or to cultivate goodwill by providing such a service free of charge to their employees.
Banks and universities are offering free work spaces in old offices and campus areas that are falling into disuse due to rapid technological change in their respective sectors. Similarly, hotels and larger cafeterias are offering workspace services during off-peak hours with the intention of making each square metre more profitable with new customers.
Health is now (truly) a thing.
“A focus on health and well-being is no longer just a trademark of the flex industry. Crocs are back with a vengeance (maybe they didn't need to be, but they are); birkenstocks were everywhere last summer and people are engaging in more sports, yoga and outdoor activities than ever before at their workplaces.”
When asked if this trend is here to stay, Marc explains that the rate at which adoption of such activities has increased makes it impossible to turn back. This focus on health affects everything from the types of chairs available in workspaces to improvements in air quality and increased sustainability measures. In 2024, such changes will no longer happen because of social pressure, but instead because potential audiences have come to accept it as a standard.
Tech will be more important than ever.
We live in a world where Apple, Amazon, Google and AirBnb have all but removed friction from our lives. We find it unthinkable in many cases to even go to an ATM to withdraw cash. To the modern consumer, it is tedious to interact with organisations with a very low level of digitisation: we want it all, we want it clear, easy, well done, and done yesterday.
Fortunately, in the flexible workspace industry we have, in most cases, an acceptable level of digitisation so this comment will apply in different ways to everyone. For some, this subject is more than well addressed, and what remains is to apply emerging technologies to coworking to further optimise operations, minimise costs and maximise revenue.
An example of this could be the implementation of sensors that allow us to measure different parameters such as light, temperature, air quality. and allow us to improve the quality of service. But we are also likely to see presence sensors that allow us to understand how our users are using the facilities with a view to possibly redesign or create more profitable spaces.
Additionally, by connecting these sensors to lighting and air conditioning systems, we can reduce our costs by turning off the lights or heating if there is no one in a particular space. In an intermediate range, we can find spaces that have certain systems but may not have doors with access control systems in meeting rooms and are missing out on a percentage when members use them without a reservation.
“If your venue doesn't have a management system I think the excuses are over: do yourself a favour and implement one. Your members will appreciate it (and so will you).”
There is no better way to put your operations in order than when you are compelled to do so by adopting management software. In short, technology should not be adopted just for the sake of it, or as a gimmick: technology is a lever that we use to reduce costs (if, in exchange for a prior investment), it allows us to optimise our operations by optimising the use of space and layout and therefore increase turnover.
Differentiation will be increasingly important in 2024. Perks and design are no longer enough to attract remote workers who are looking for more than just a desk and chair.
While flexibility remains the biggest draw, and we can’t ignore reports that continue to indicate an increase in demand, coworking spaces will find themselves competing much more against external entities this year, including a potential user's home desk, coffee shops, hotels, banks, and a growing number of external agents that either have a different cost structure or do not need to bill for this service because they use it for other purposes.
Going forward, the degree of technological injection into a space will be the crucial factor between success and failure. Being at a technological disadvantage might mean undervaluing an additional percentage of income or cost savings that we cannot afford in a sector in which competition is increasing.
2024 will help crystallise coworking trends that have been dominating the space for the past few years. Now all we have to do is act.
At Nexudus, we’re passionate about creating fully customisable, easy-to-integrate software that manages your entire space - from reception to rooftop. For over 11 years, our award-winning tech has helped workspace owners and operators be more efficient, provide members with an unforgettable experience and gather advanced analytics for better decision-making. Discover how we can help you today.
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