WORKSPACE PREDICTIONS BY MARK FURNESS, FOUNDER & CEO, ESSENSYS
Over our ten years in the flexible workspace industry, we’ve seen year to year market fluctuations, abundant growth and new emerging sectors that have transformed the industry into what it is today. The impact of 2016 trends will reverberate into the coming year and we’ll see new workplace trends have their way with the market. Here are my workspace predictions for what we’ll see in 2017…
Uncertainty to provide shot in the arm for some developing business segments
Brexit has forced businesses to think differently. But with uncertainty rife, it might not necessarily be the strongest that survive, but the ones who are agile enough to evolve. Businesses move to flexible service models in times of uncertainty. Cloud grew rapidly following the banking crash and recession of 2008, and now we expect to see growth in other ‘as-a-service’ sectors. Flexible office space, including co-working spaces, are seeing huge appetite at the moment. Space-as-a-service will grow, but the model will also expand in other areas that allow businesses to consume other services instead of owning assets. Whether it’s equipment leasing or dog walking, that will provide new opportunities and build new service ecosystems.
Disparate markets will collide
Those who wanted to diversify their portfolios would have to acquire additional properties and grow their footprint. We’ll see that changing. Co-working is increasing in popularity but some providers are finding it difficult to prevent churn and sustain growth because the terms are so short and flexible. At the same time, serviced office spaces provide a more reliable source of income for operators but tenants are demanding newer, more collaborative spaces to work in. We’ll start to see buildings move to be all things to all people by offering different tenancy types, lengths and models under the same roof as they find new ways to compete in a cut-throat marketplace.
Growth of community in the workplace
Co-working has become a concept that isn’t just changing property contracts, it’s also changing how we work with our colleagues and those we share spaces with. As the division between work life and home life becomes more fluid, we’ll see communities at work becoming more important.
It’s difficult to ignore the communication tools such as Slack that have gained popularity. It’s feeding into a need to create stronger and more productive working relationships with those around us. It’s also satisfying the appetite to get things done more efficiently. But there’s another opportunity here, as services migrate onto social platforms. When we provide additional services on top of a community platform, it can become more than a virtual networking tool, it can also provide endless opportunities to maximise the time we spend at work. These services could include everything from food delivery and dry cleaning all integrated into a single platform.
The market will continue to mature
On the back of a large-scale Coworking boom between 2013 and 2015, operators have shown signs of maturity and a decrease in expectations of growth potential within the market. While Coworking will continue to be a strong forcewithin the industry, there are clear signs of continued market maturity for 2017. Based on the Deskmag Global Coworking Survey for both 2016 and 2017, less operators anticipated an increase in both members and income. Operators in 2016, were more focused on driving revenues and building a profitable operation and in 2017, the focus will be on nurturing the collaboration aspect of their workspace communities, which they’ve realized will increase revenues.
Anticipating less income and members in the workspace means operators will be more cautious about how and where they spend their budget and price their space and memberships, with increased efforts on building and nurturing their member communities.
Collaboration will be key
Operators will focus on inter-member collaboration and optimizing the networking potential of their communities. Brands seeking to grow will put greater attention on in-center expansion and will look to optimize the delivery of value to the members in their workspaces. Scaling from efforts in 2016, this year members and small business will see increased value from collaborative environments.
Software platforms that bring members together and beyond the physical four walls of the workspace are enabling members to discover more networking opportunities and business potential. In 2016, only 76% percent of collaboration within the workspace were based on small tasks and another 42% on projects without partnerships. In 2017, the shared workspace has the potential to become a hub where member organizations, freelancers and entrepreneurs propel their businesses. At the least, they will take more seriously the opportunity to connect with and extract business earning potential from their immediate workspace community and operators will seek to offer an organized method of connecting members and measuring the value of their connections.