It’s hard to believe that I’ve been in the coworking world for nearly seven years now. In its infancy, coworking was a long table set up in a no-frills, concrete floor, open space setting. Young tech professionals sat shoulder-to-shoulder with their laptops open. The most important amenity needed was high-speed connectivity.
Much has changed.
As I reflect on coworking trends and what they mean to our community, I wanted to share the following insights with you.
The “F” Words of Coworking
Yes, that’s right. The “F” words of coworking are flexibility, freedom and future.
As the business world continues to grapple with a post-COVID workplace, organizations contemplate downsizing, hybrid work options, virtual workers, and how to best to create a culture that invites the flexibility and freedom Gen Z craves with the stability and security established by Boomers and Traditionalists. No doubt the NOW (next-gen office workspace) of the future includes coworking.
We’ve Come Full-circle
As I mentioned in my opening, the genesis of coworking flourished under the open desk concept. Foosball tables and exercise ball chairs marked the casual coworking culture. As the coworking trend spread throughout the US and the gig economy grew, members sought private offices to replace the buzz of a busy open desk community.
While private offices are still in high demand, especially for virtual workers whose corporations offer an allowance for office space, I see a return to dedicated hot desks. Many work-from-home employees are opting to forego the isolation of a home office for a people-centric coworking environment. Many of my members tell me, “After months at home, I really like the feeling of getting up, getting dressed and going to an office environment.” They say they like the structure of a place to come to every day, so much so that they will pay out of their own pocket to join coworking communities.
Here Comes the Cloud
When my business partner and I set up our last facility, Cowork KCI, we opted for concierge mail delivery over the community mailroom. It was a concept I considered when setting up Aspiria NOW.
But the times have changed. Apparently, the digital world of cloud storage and paperless documents has replaced snail mail and the need for a printer allowance. I’m not sending back the printer, nor will I refuse mail should the postman visit.
Nonetheless, the trend away from printing a dozen or more copies of reports for meetings and delivery through the USPS appears to be real and worthy of sharing!
My Motto: “Be Seen”
Much to the surprise of many Aspiria NOW guests, I am the person who sits behind the front desk – not an intern, a part-time receptionist or a Walmart greeter. From the moment you walk through our doors, you see me, the main guy.
Customer service matters. I know that members choose facilities primarily on the “vibe” they get when they check it out. I want members and guests to know that I care. I am here to deliver an exceptional experience and to do whatever it takes to provide the services and amenities needed to grow your businesses.
Best of All Worlds
Unfortunately, during my tenure in the flex office industry, I’ve witnessed many spaces that closed their doors. While the demand for office options grows, it remains risky for entrepreneurs to open a space large enough and affordable enough to garner sustainable profits. So how does the marketplace meet demand and longevity?
Enter corporate-sponsored flex spaces!
I believe we will see more spaces like Aspiria NOW in the future as the demand for office options continues. Owned by Occidental Management, a commercial real estate company headquartered in Wichita, Kansas, Aspiria NOW can offer offers an entrepreneurial environment with corporate amenities. Housed on the 4-million-square-foot Aspiria campus, members have access to the same conveniences large corporations expect on a business campus.
Small office space facilities cannot offer free covered parking, access to a fitness center, walkable green spaces, bike sharing, and event spaces.
The best of all worlds for corporate workers and entrepreneurs alike, lies at the crossroad of coworking office options and amenity-rich, corporate-sponsored campus environments.
So, these are my top five coworking trends for 2023. What are your experiences? What do you think will be the future of flex spaces this year and in the future? Let me know by responding to this email or by posting your comments below.