The Global Coworking Unconference Conference USA 2017 in New York City was a coworking blast. It was 3 days full of coworking conference and unconference talks, great topics and a really awesome crowd.
Coworking is Growing & Maturing
Coworking is becoming an industry. Some people may not like it but it’s a fact. You can feel it by only taking a look at the conference itself:
- A very well organized event;
- Great venue in Midtown Manhattan;
- Great professional speakers;
- Lots of businesses from all around the world attending the event. There were people and businesses presenting, networking, showcasing their services and products in booths and participating in every possible way. It was a high-energy event!
- Advanced topics were discussed and real research on different topics was presented;
Coworking is growing, maturing and become more awesome than ever. Following are our key takeaways from GCUC 2017 USA.
People, Place, and Technology
Frank Cottle from the Alliance Business Centers made a really good point that Coworking (and Flexible workspaces in general) is a combination of people, place, and technology and you can’t unbind them. We love this and here’s why:
- People – the community is the heart of your space. People need to feel that they belong. Give your members a safety zone, sense of belonging and an honest place to work. Establish a common ethos and you and your members will be more successful. Focus on the member and all else will follow.
- Place – of course, you can’t go without the physical address. Location, design, comfort, usability, it all matters for your members. Startups do not thrive in garages anymore, they do in nice places surrounded by like-minded people, like your coworking space.
- Technology – we live in a connected, high-tech world. Make your members’ life easy. Enable them to collaborate and remove all obstacles so they can run their businesses more efficiently. Don’t overdo it, please.
Community, Community, Community
Although Coworking is maturing and has become a legitimate industry, the main focus is and will always be your community. It’s a people-centric business and we want to keep it that way. We’re more connected than ever, but perhaps Coworking is growing in popularity because people want to feel connected, have a sense of belonging and find a place in the world (and find a place to get some work done!) One of the talks that really jumped out at us was by Casper ter Kuile and Angie Thurston from the Harvard Divinity school. They gave some interesting and fascinating examples on the parallels between religion and coworking. They also talked about new ‘religions’ such as cross-fit and Coworking where people are gathering, connecting and finding their community. It’s fascinating stuff and if you’re interested, you can read the full study here. Our main takeaway from a technology standpoint; focus on the members and how technology can enhance their experience and don’t be a barrier for managers to get their work done!
Place, Location, and Business
Successful communities need a successful coworking business. If you don’t build a successful business, you’re letting down your members. Consider more ways to make money from your space and physical address. Examine carefully your revenue streams (chart of accounts). A few examples of how to increase revenue are:
- Virtual Offices – your highest margin revenue stream.
- Events are a great source of revenue and awesome marketing tool.
- Meeting rooms could be bigger revenue than memberships and provide higher margins.
Note: The rule of thumb is – the more long-term and fixed membership, the less profit margin. Private offices are the least profit margin while virtual office, events, and meeting rooms are the highest margins per sq. ft.
Technology and Apps
Edwin Akoubians from Titan Offices made some really good points about choosing the right technology solution during the Tech track discussion.
- Don’t rush into buying a software before you open. You need some time to understand how things work;
- Establish a simple core set of technologies as your backup;
- Experiment with different tools until you find the right one for you.
Other interesting findings were that the overall quality of coworking software isn’t great. Some coworking spaces are looking to develop their own tools because the existing solutions out there are not good enough. We’re hoping to change this, let us do the heavy lifting! More on this soon. 🙂
Marketing is a big thing for every coworking space, well, and every business. Here are a few of the key ideas that came up:
- Content marketing works well for all spaces – from small to big. To make it work well, first, you need to define your target persona carefully and then be consistent.
- Facebook/Social checkin through WiFi – you can set your guests’ wifi network to ask people to signin with Facebook and automatically check them in your space. Smart!
- Gmail ads work well too.
- The guys from Find Workspaces made some good points about Google maps. Google is showing more results nowadays from google maps so make sure you’re present there. Pictures are a must have. Try to add really good quality pictures often.
- Be creative – think about how your members can generate content and marketing for you. For example, bring something funny in your space that the members will take a picture with and post on social. It’s free awesome marketing.
- Leverage events and meeting rooms – every 1 out of 200 people who visit your event is a qualified lead. This has a much higher conversion rate than paid ads for example.
There are the topics that we found really exciting. Please, feel free to add what moved you in the comments below.
Thank you GCUC team and all partners for organizing such a great event. Keep up the good work!
Coworking 2.0 and the Office as a Service is here to stay and ready to grow.