GCUC is the go-to global conference for everything coworking. Liz Elam, founder and Executive Producer, has been serving up this eye-catching event since 2012. Six years later, with triple the amount of coworking spaces on the market and a small army of workspace operators, influencers, and vendors, GCUC has never been more relevant. Here are our top 6 takeaways from the event that took place in NYC at Convene from April 22nd to 24th.
In this article:
Camp GCUC Brought the Masses
Every year since 2015, GCUC organizers provide a forum for newbie and future coworking operators in the form of Camp. This year at Convene Camp GCUC delivered on its promise to offer expertise, content and invaluable knowledge from industry experts. The prime focus at Camp this year was the complicated yet essential coworking real estate.
Not only is real estate about location, location, location, but it’s also about de-risking your workspace businesses. While leasing in a traditional tenant-landlord situation is still the most common approach to securing office space, newbies have more options at their fingertips now than they did before. By way of management agreements, joint-ventures or revenue-sharing approaches, coworking operators can mitigate risk in a market that is constantly changing.
Coworking Beyond the Workstation
One of the underlying themes at GCUC this year was the focus on health and wellness. Liz Elam predicted this at the onset of the year. True to her prediction, at GCUC the sessions and breakouts buzzed with talk of member health, wellness and coworking fighting the loneliness epidemic.
More and more operators are focusing on how to improve member wellbeing within their workspace by being more thoughtful about their build out. We initially heard about the wellness initiatives at the 2016 GWA Conference. Over a year later; it’s become a reality. For example, Workbar, an 18 site Massachusetts-based operator, was awarded the WELL Certification. WELL is the premier building standard that brings design and scientific research together to focus on how buildings can enhance occupiers’ health and wellbeing.
Workbar is the first coworking space in the world to receive this certification and build the space out specifically thinking of their commitment to their members’ productivity, health, and well-being. With increased construction in key office markets, we can anticipate seeing more coworking spaces popping up in WELL certified buildings.
New and Old GCUC Faces
GCUC brought the standard crew of camp presenters, from Bill Jacobson’s Tech 101 talk to Jerome Chang and Iris Kavanagh’s expertise on designing and investing in your space assets. We also heard from the community connoisseurs Amy Proctor and Tony Bacigalupo, who offered advice on building a sustainable, revenue-driving yet honest group community at your coworking space. For the new faces to this year’s conference, the information was plentiful and exceeded expectations.
As three consecutive year sponsors, our team saw returning GCUC attendees who, after establishing their coworking space and getting a good foothold on their business model, are asking, “what’s next”? While today’s market is delivering on demand, it’s also starting to challenge operators to think outside of the box about how to take their coworking brand to the next level.
The increased presence of giants such as WeWork and Spaces are driving shared office providers to rethink how they are going to run and grow their business over coming years. GCUC this year offered these determined operators a fresh perspective on an evolved market and urged them to consider realities such as an economic downturn and the changing layout of today’s cities.
Coworking Numbers and Knowledge Transfer
Back in February, Carsten Foertsch, the founder and brains behind Deskmag and the annual Global Coworking survey, gave us a sneak peek at the initial survey results. At GCUC last week Carsten went through the results revealing some positive news for the coworking community. On the whole, the numbers are on the up and up where it counts the most. From the number of private offices and income generated from them to the profitability of and investment in coworking. These stats are a clear sign that the market continues to mature while stakeholders put thoughtful structure around the business models and investment dollars keep funneling in.
Speaking of investment, during GCUC’s famous Unconference, Jamie Hodari, CEO and Founder of Industrious, gave attendees the scoop on how he secured his over $500 million in funding to grow the brand. One of the biggest takeaways from this generous knowledge share was to be bold and represent your brand yourself. As the CEO, Owner or Founder of your workspace brand, no one will know your vision or be able to defend it better than you. Have clear goals, clear convictions around your plan and your pitch. Hodari also suggested being reasonable about whether raising money is the best option for your business, alluding to the opportunity for merging or consolidating with others as a route to expansion.
Coming to Terms with the New Coworking
The concept of coworking in many regards goes beyond the four walls of a shared office. Today’s meaning of coworking encompasses an array of pillars across business, personal and social environments. Part of GCUC this year was coming to terms with the evolution of coworking as a business. A gradual departure from its early days of small, local shared spaces building community but struggling to turn a profit.
The merging of the essence of coworking with the business behind it was a notable feature of this year’s GCUC conference. The distinction between the homegrown, local operator trying to do big things and the larger-scale CRE or asset holder hoping to turn a greater profit was evident.
The content catered to both sides of the fence. At the end of the day, there is merit to both sides. The bottom line for folks approaching coworking from any angle is to build a sustainable business that can adapt to a dynamic office market.
Lastly, this year was the second annual Coworky awards, a collection of people, places and spaces making Coworking what it is today. Essensys is proud to have won the Best Technology to Run your Space award. Read more about the award here and how essensys is driving the growth of the world’s most tech-driven flexible workspaces.
Operate and Place: A Payment Processing Match Made in Workspace Heaven
This year at GCUC essensys and Place (formerly Rentshare) showcased their financial integration that’s saving U.S. workspace operators up to 95% in payment processing costs. Did you miss the demo at our booth at GCUC? Fret not. We’re bringing U.S. operators an exclusive webinar on May 10th at 2PM EST. Hear direct from operators how cash collection is cheaper, easier and more efficient to manage. Register today.
essensys was also honored to be recognized as the Best Technology to Run your Space at the second annual GCUC Coworky awards. Read how we’re powering the world’s most successful workspaces here.
Until next year, GCUC!
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