With a new year underway and a huge range of GCUC events to look forward to in 2019, Andrew Debenham, Global Accounts Director at essensys, participated in the GCUC podcast series to talk all things coworking, his perspective on staying on top of the ever-evolving industry, and the recently announced global partnership between essensys and GCUC. Below are some of the key takeaways from the podcast.
A Decade of Coworking Change
Ten years ago, the term coworking was nowhere near as established as it is now and was greeted with swathes of skepticism. Landlords were far more in favor of signing up tenants for long term leases than taking on what was regarded as riskier, short term leases with coworking operators. So, what changed to propel the industry to the powerhouse it is today? “Fundamentally, the main shift has been caused by the changing consumption patterns of people,” comments Andrew. “People are demanding commodities and services instantaneously and expect them delivered with simplicity. After experiencing this emergence of convenience, people began asking: Why can’t my office work like this?” This mindset towards office space has manifested in what is today’s continuously expanding coworking and flex-space market.
This key shift is one of the leading causes that has resulted in landlords “having to swap their spots for stripes.” Nowadays, the skepticism surrounding the term coworking has altered and landlords are actively seeking to implement this space asset into their wider portfolio. They’re actively building their own coworking solution or partnering with existing players by way of management agreements and joint ventures.
The proof is in the pudding when considering the growth of the industry as Andrew discussed the remarkable shift in target markets: “The growth of the industry has been phenomenal. We used to have a relatively small target market, but if we go by recent industry reports, we’re looking at a target market of around 20% of all office space.”
As the industry has continued to mature, the expectations placed upon coworking spaces has rapidly developed. “Everything in the industry is growing up, and there needs to be a change from some of the coworking providers,” Andrew comments. With coworking on the rise, big corporate organizations are starting to look at coworking spaces as a long-term real estate solution. This leads to flex-space providers having to change how they present themselves if they want to capture the big corporate companies who are now taking the industry very seriously. “They’re not start-ups. They’re coming with security, resilience and governance issues from day one and the coworking spaces have to be able to accommodate that.”
Adapting to an Increasingly Diverse Coworking Industry
Operating within an industry that has seen significant growth and transformation throughout the past ten years requires software providers to be dynamic to meet the varying needs of flex-space operators. “The roadmap is never ending,” Andrew explains. “For each new client there are new ways to tackle processes and the offering, and it’s vital to stay two steps ahead.”
While having a diverse array of tech products and tenant-facing solutions is important, what operators will always find essential is a strong foundation of mission-critical software and infrastructure. “What flex-space owners are really interested in is making sure that the tech platform will work, and it will do the fundamentals really well without requiring a wealth of existing technology knowledge. Wi-Fi, internet, security, inventory management, billing, resilience, reporting, and critical infrastructure are what operators should always focus on first.”
Once a strong foundation is established, operators can then start to build on their offering with different tools and solutions which should be easily accessible in a marketplace environment by the software provider. Backed by the imperative mission-critical software, the additions to the tech offering create an enhanced member experience for the tenants within the coworking industry.
Looking to the future, Andrew discussed a recent trend emerging from coworking operators: they’re more willing to collaborate with each other. “It’s now becoming possible and more common for essensys customers to talk to each other through our network of tech-driven flexible workspaces. This is enabling them to provide more products, more services and more locations for their members through this collaboration.”
Expanding on communication and collaboration, Andrew explained that as corporate occupiers start to take up more flex-space, a key opportunity is developing to allow for more communication between the flex-space operators and large corporate occupiers for the purpose of sharing data and space utilization figures. “There’s a big opportunity for platforms like ours to allow our customers to provide their tenants’ customers with this information, which is highly valuable in the current market and something that wouldn’t have been entertained a few years ago.” With essensys’ continuing work to power the world’s largest community of tech-driven flexible workspaces, this level of collaboration between operators and corporate tenants is quickly becoming a reality. To find out more about how technology can enable collaboration between coworking spaces and assist with preparing for large corporate occupiers, take a short demo of the essensys platform.
Going Global With GCUC
The global partnership between essensys and GCUC was announced just ahead of GCUC UK last year and signals the strong commitment between essensys and GCUC to continue to be a driving force for the coworking industry. “We first came across GCUC in 2015 and attended the unconference in L.A. and we were blown away by it,” comments Andrew. “GCUC provides a unique resource for anyone getting into the sector or looking to meet a wide cross section of coworking industry members.” essensys have been a top-tier sponsor of GCUC since 2016 and the global sponsorship marks a pivotal moment for both organizations. essensys will be attending a range of GCUC events throughout 2019.
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