Based at the Steelcase Worklife Center in downtown Los Angeles earlier this month, the latest GCUCALL event was a grand slam in the essensys books. GCUC (Global Coworking Unconference Conference) is the largest coworking conference event series in the world and this year, they partnered with the Alliance Business Center Network to form a global union within our industry: GCUCALL. Over the three-day jam-packed event, we hosted the essensys Lounge on a sunny terrace – the place to be for all delegates to relax, enjoy good music whilst sipping mimosas, margaritas and bloody Marys, and of course learn about the most effective software solutions for shared workspaces.
Here’s what we took away from the conference…
MARCHING TO THE BEAT OF THE SAME DRUM
Coworking is booming – in unison! The energy felt at GCUCALL was representative of the vibrancy the sector is experiencing worldwide. The evolution of work and how companies and individuals want to embrace community-led environments is driving growth at high rates, as well as a positive common vision of innovation and creativity.
The beauty of GCUCALL is bringing all types of workspace providers together under one roof. For coworking and business centers to hybrids and incubators, the formula is the same. As expressed by Frank Cottle, Chairman and Founder of the Alliance Business Center Network, our industry’s common mission is to deliver value by combining “people, place and technology plus flexibility”.
LAUNCH FOR SUCCESS: DON’T SKIMP!
During CAMPGCUC, a day dedicated to the coworking novices and startups, we realized that there are many businesses out there who are tempted to contract consumer Internet services to reduce overhead costs. This will be more expensive in the long run as the bandwidth capacity doesn’t scale or meet the speed and Internet security expectations of today’s coworker.
The alternative is to invest in a robust, reliable and secure network connection, where members can manage their own bandwidth requirements on a self-service basis. This enriches your service delivery proposition, improves the member experience and drives more revenues.
OPTIMIZING THE FULL VALUE OF COWORKING TECH
We mingled with a great crew of people at GCUCALL, from owners and operators to community managers – all of whom are passionate about providing the best value to their members. Now more than ever technology is a critical component of the cowoworking space that unlocks both operator and member value.
Bill Jacobson, CEO of Workbar, told us there are a myriad of applications used to run a workspace. These become more numerous and the complexity to integrate them increases as the center matures and grows. Managing members, space infrastructure, services, community, marketing and operations with traditional and disparate applications falls short of driving efficiencies and unlocking the full value potential for both operators and members.
We agree! There is no shortage of technology options in the industry – as we saw at GCUCALL – but it’s imperative for operators to use an integrated platform that not only manages the workspace, but also tees them up for success in the future.
A single, easy-to-use software platform that enables operators and members alike to manage key areas such as billing, voice and data services, the member community, events and space bookings, is just the way to go. It centralizes operations management, lightening the operator’s workload and helping them monetize their space while also empowering members to be more active in the community. Importantly, it leverages how data can be used to build a truly smart, interconnected workplace and enhance the experience of workers.
BRACE YOURSELF TO SCALE
Because the future is so bright for the coworking industry, many operators are scaling quickly and are challenged by managing multiple locations. Jamie Russo, Executive Director of the Global Workspace Association, and Scott Chambers, its President, imparted advice on the importance of unifying processes, centralizing management and being flexible as the organization grows.
Efficiently collecting data and keeping one’s finger on the pulse of trends and occupancy allows operators to make data-driven decisions. Being smart about how you use your human capital and execute your business ideas directly factors into the competitive edge your centers will have in the market.
COMMUNITY IS EVERYTHING
The driving force behind coworking is the community and the members that make it up. Interestingly, many operators actually came to GCUCALL asking, “What exactly is community and how do we build it?”. Iris Kavanagh, coworking and community champion, and David Walker, pioneer in the coworking movement, described community as: collaboration, lowering the barriers from professional to personal, engaging employees like never before, sharing space with friends and families, open, transparent, warm and welcoming.
Getting members engaged is absolutely key to nurture the community environment and having the right technology tools to do so is a must. Eventually, a bustling community leads to a growing member base and increased profitability for your business.
BEHIND THE SCENES: EMERGENCY GCUC INTERNET
A mere four days before the event kicked off, we received a call from the GCUC team expressing concern about subpar Internet connectivity at the venue and inquiring what solution we could finagle within the limited time remaining. The essensys team immediately started configuring AP switches and cabling to take with us to Los Angeles.
All hands were on deck and essensys Internet was had for all! As always, when many people (nearly 300 in this case) connect to one wireless network, speed and performance can be affected, which is why – as your trusted technology partners – we advise as best practice to outfit your site with wired connectivity in addition to wireless for optimal performance.
TEAM ACTIVITIES AT GCUCALL
On day 1, the event organizers challenged CAMPGCUCALL attendees with a collaborative Scavenger Hunt. The activity brought coworking site owners and community managers from all types of shared workspaces together with vendors and industry influencers. It required each group to Instagram pictures of themselves performing various tasks, a few of which included hunting down and posing with sponsors, drinking an espresso and building a human pyramid, all in a matter of a frantic 20 minutes! Our own Andrew Debenham, Global Account Director, and Amanda Fanoun, Marketing Executive, participated. Although neither of their teams won, both were happy to participate in the activity!
HIGH SPIRITS IN THE ESSENSYS LOUNGE
GCUCALL was an overall great time. A key highlight was the double celebration that took place in the essensys lounge on day 3: Cinco de Mayo and our amigo Frank Cottle’s birthday, complete with a surfboard and Patron cake and a fully loaded Tequila shot belt.