This year’s GWA brought together new members, new vendors and old friends under the bright lights of Sin City. We’re taking a stand against the cliché whatever happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas. We took it all with us and want to share our 10 key takeaways from this year’s 30th Annual GWA Conference.
1. New Faces to the Industry
It was great to see so many new operators at GWA 2016. We spoke with many new members at the welcome events and later during the breakout sessions and it was refreshing to see new faces, ideas and investment beginning to proliferate through our industry. Not only are there new members who have been running spaces, but we met a slew of future-operators attending the GWA to get the guidance and know-how from industry experts.
There is an entire market out there seeking interactive environments to grow and nurture their business objectives. This goes for professionals in creative industries as much as it does for TMT industries. At GWA 2016 we saw new and existing Operators keen to optimize on this and deliver customized space and services to their membership.
2. Co-working is Dominating Discussions
There is no doubt that coworking is booming – but almost all of the new operators I spoke to at GWA 2016 were operating coworking spaces. Many were still in the early stage and had big ideas of how they can scale their business and grow their membership and number of sites. Many were looking to find out how they could integrate technology into their operation and to their portfolio.
3. Operators can Learn a lot from Vegas
Vegas is all about luxury, service, and on-demand access to anything you desire in any given moment. Operators can take advantage of tactics to optimize the presence of their members and generate new revenues while also delivering a memorable member experience just as is done in Vegas. Full service, considerate and engaging staff will make a lasting impression on members, from day one. Read more about what Operators can learn from Vegas.
4. Tech is Enabling Rapid Industry ChangeWorkspace management software expert Claire Luik with Laura K from Quest
From WeWork to Regus, big operators have developed their own apps, software and space search engines that increase efficiency, facilitate management of a global workspace portfolio while bringing communities together. These technologies are not limited to corporate conglomerates and they are certainly not out of reach for the likes of GWA members – both business center and coworking operators.The growth of the industry demands that operators leave manual processes and spreadsheets behind. There is no need – or time, money or resources – to be spent doing things manually or building their own software and apps, for that matter. For over ten years, essensys has been automating the delivery of services to the flexible workspace industry and the technology capabilities of our platform empower operators and engages communities.
5. Relationships, Networking, and Sharing are essential
No man is an island. That’s a little bit cliché, but it’s true. The shared workspace industry hasn’t experienced this level of explosive growth by everyone hiding the secrets to their success. The GWA is proof that relationships, networking and sharing are beneficial to all parties involved. In our growing market, the idea that it’s not big enough for multiple players is antiquated. Anyone who has been around long enough, engaged with the blossoming community and shared ideas will tell you so.
It is this mindset that incoming operators are embracing more and more, making sharing and collaboration a clear part of their value proposition. This results in positive environments, greater social interaction, increased productivity and overall improved wellness. As the motto for GWA 2016 said, We’re Better Together.
6. Design is More Important than EverDavid Kinnaird with panelists Nick Livigne, Natasha Franck, Bill Dowzer
Design has become an increasingly important factor for operators in the flexible workspace industry over the last couple of years. While companies have embraced a new layout and approach to office collaboration in the form of shared workspaces, so to have developers when it comes to design.
Taking it a step further, as we heard in the Third Space trend watch panel, curated by our own North American president or essensys, David Kinnaird, office spaces and buildings are being designed specifically for wellbeing. Natasha Franck from Delos Living introduced a pioneer program that is already underway in multiple projects that focus on enabling occupant health, happiness and wellbeing. Being thoughtful about air, water, nourishment, light, fitness, comfort and mind aspects of your space, operators can inspire member health in the workplace.
7. No Workspace Real Estate Will Go to Waste
With the increase of newer and larger players and more advanced technologies, operators are benefiting from optimized workspaces and the ability to optimize latent space. For example, Verizon has hired workspace strategists to execute strategies combining space and design to impact culture and creativity and develop enhanced work environments that promote productivity and enhance employee experience. And big surprise – they’re focused on coworking!
8. Get the Right People in the BoatAdam Kreek Candian Olympic Rower Displays his Gold Medal During Keynote
Key note speaker and Canadian Olympic gold-medalist Adam Kreek delivered an engaging and inspiring closing speech at the GWA this year. Aside from a lot of very inspirational and motivational quotes, the words of wisdom we took away from Adam are to build a strong team; in the end your team is greater than innovation, finance and strategy alone. The team you employ to run your business is the face you show to your members and will determine member satisfaction and the overall success of your operation. Choose them wisely and enable them accordingly.
9. Embrace the Gig Economy
People are ever connected in today’s workforce. The Gig economy has yielded a new generation of freelancers who need – and want! – to work somewhere other than at home. Because companies and freelancers no longer want to restrict themselves to cubicles and conference rooms, they’ve found reprieve within shared workspaces. Jill Salzman, who energetically kicked off this year’s conference is a shining example of a how her stint in a coworking space and subsequent acceptance of her status as a “coworking junkie” helped her to leverage collaboration and community directly to serial entrepreneurial status.
10. Get Over It!
This year’s conference was starkly different from last in regards to the increased level of discussion around coworking. Industry veteran and leader of our US operation, David Kinnaird, encourages us all to “get over it!”. Long gone are the days in which we weren’t allowed to mention the “C” word. Coworking, business center, executive suite and anyone operating a shared office of some degree need to appreciate the demand for the Flexible Workspace over a large spectrum of requirements. We’ve seen people go from paying peanuts for a spot at the local café to paying for rent in shared workspaces. Let’s all get on board as an industry our collective offering and understand our position in the wider market.
That’s our take on the GWA 2016. Remember, not everything that happens in Vegas has to stay in Vegas. We hope you take this insight back to your businesses and let’s talk when we see each other again in Miami 2017. Or sooner! Start the conversation now.