My First Coworking UnConference:
Fruitful Simmering Thoughts & A Word Of Caution
Earlier this year, I dove headfirst into the coworking industry. In some circles, I’m a seasoned coworking pro and in others, I’m a total newbie. With coffee in hand, and an eagerness to learn and make new friends, I walked into the Coworking Europe conference (or rather call it the Coworking Unconference!) bright-eyed and excited. Very quickly I knew I was with the brightest and best of the coworking community from not only Europe, but all over the world. I learned a handful of encouraging ways to move forward in the industry, and some challenges to anticipate just around the corner.
It was a whirlwind three days, filled with engaging panel discussions, fruitful coffee cart chats, and beautifully unstructured peer-led sessions. My mind continues to comb over all of the lightbulbs that went off throughout the conference as well as how to move forward with the more elusive and tricky learnings permeating each session.
For all of my coworking space owners/managers and larger industry operators out there, let me share some fruitful learnings I’m still mulling over:
Diversify Your Revenue Stream & Own It
Instead of banking all of your revenue on desk/meeting room rentals, get creative and secure more financial security by developing new ways to rake in some dough. As collaborative community expert Tony Bacigaluopo put it, “It’s not in the interest of your members to be charitable and burn out quickly. Don’t be afraid to make money.” There are many ways you can do this – maybe through an onsite printing service, photography studio, cafe, childcare, gym? Pick things that complement your space and that you and your staff would enjoy building.
Events, Events, Events
I know it can seem time-intensive to organize, plan, and execute events, but by utilizing your event space, you’re providing valuable content to not only your members, but the larger community. By bringing in external engaging speakers, meetup groups, and instructors, your space will be THE go-to spot in town to bring people together. It’s a win-win for everybody involved. I anticipate this will be a way to continue growing your revenue stream while investing in the community in 2018.
Digitizing the Workspace Just Got a Whole Lot Easier
After co-leading an unconference session with Hector Kolonas from Included.co, we learned that operators are tired of using overly complex systems that are NOT user friendly. They are looking for ways to integrate their current digital tools housing tons of valuable data with new and efficient management software. All we can say is – we hear you! There were a ton of software developers already in the marketplace and they’re listening carefully and taking diligent notes. It’s about finding which software best fits your needs. Here at Cowork7x24, we believe in simplifying your operational lives so you can build a stronger community. Let us know what would make your digital workspace management experience better. (PS: Be sure to read Hector’s thoughts and key learnings via his recent blog post too.)
It’s time to share a word of caution on what’s brewing and right around the corner….
One consistent theme throughout the conference was that the coworking playground is about to get a lot bigger. Hotels are now entering the scene and looking to get in on the fun. An industry that’s facing immense pressure from AirBnB, hotel providers are looking for new ways to transform their traditional onsite spaces into innovative alternative workspaces. While they don’t fully understand the community building aspect, they have a leg up on the services they offer. But it’s time to accept that they are becoming realistic competitors, every day.
What does this mean for you? It’s important to continue bringing it back to the community, what you know how to do, and do well. It’s equally as important to observe how hotels are offering instant and efficient services to their members. How can you do the same?
If you attended Coworking Europe (or didn’t!) (or rather the Unconference), we’d love to hear your thoughts too. Let us know what you think by dropping a comment below.