The GWA exceeded our expectations this year. It brought together over 400 flex-space operators, consultants, vendors and market experts to explore the current and future opportunity of our industry. Here are our key takeaways.
SECURITY IS CRITICAL
Data and cyber security are mission-critical to a flex-space operation. Security is complicated and prone to risk. Corporate and enterprise occupiers simply won’t take a space if it doesn’t comply with their IT requirements. Don’t gamble when it comes to security. Check out our latest eBook on Security Considerations for Flex-Spaces to learn everything you need to know.
HOSPITALITY AND SERVICE
The varying needs of occupiers of all sizes are driving flexible office uptake. Real estate decision makers are no longer the CFOs or those who sign the rent check. Consumer-grade experiences with top notch service levels are expected from tenants. Brand equity and service delivery are critical to deliver this type of member experience.
The flexible workspace market has evolved rapidly and will continue to mature. Flex-space occupier requirements are changing and commercial real estate is responding to these demands. The GWA is a testament to two key things: 1) coworking operators are ahead of the curve and 2) they have a massive market opportunity.
WE LOVE THE 80’S
The GWA community really loves the 80’s! essensys and our friends at Instant Offices took the GWA after party Back to the 80’s. There were ruffles, leg warmers, shoulder pads and teased hair. There were arcade games, music, a prosecco and frozen custard truck, and a Dolorean. Yes, a Dolorean! Thanks to Braddock Commercial who helped us put on an epic evening of festivities.
DELIVER SERVICE WITH PURPOSE
Jeff Hargett, Senior Practice Director at The Ritz-Carlton Leadership Center, delivered a killer, entertaining keynote about the importance of people and human connections in your operation.
Function with purpose and prioritise service excellence.
Space versus people. To make a space look nice, it takes money. But to make your customers feel special and give your brand purpose, it takes people.
Your brand and purpose will determine your ability to differentiate your brand.
PERSPECTIVE ON CRE AND FLEX-SPACE
Speak with owners and operators of Coworking spaces, join industry associations, and attend conferences to get insight on best practices and trends.
Meet community leaders, your local Chamber of Commerce, “coffee-shop workers”, and your local office of economic development to understand where you can fill a gap in your local market.
SECURITY AND SMART BUILDINGS
Security is a hot topic and a bare-bones requirement in today’s flex-office. Ari Kepnes, CEO of space occupancy platform Density, got to the bottom of security basics and beyond with subject matter experts Anne Hardy (Join CSO) and James Shannon (essensys CPO) Many people (unfortunately, you and your tenants) take security for granted. After a security breach, it’s usually too late to fix it.
Monitor and ensure risk management measures are in place to prevent breaches that can taint your brand.
The tighter the integration of your systems (think: single credential login) the easier it is to manage, monitor and secure your operation.
Trusted vendors are key to deliver the right security solutions and stitch all system elements together.
TECH AND MEMBER EXPERIENCE
With CRE mindsets shifting from product to service, member experience is the name of the game. It came up in multiple sessions at the conference. Here’s the gist of it:
- The flex-space model operates in a B2B2C fashion. Members expect a consumer grade experience that also satisfies requirements for enterprise-grade services.
- Brand differentiation depends on delivering an excellent member experience.
- Bolster member experience by gathering data from multiple systems, analyzing and driving insights about behavior and activity.
- When it comes to meeting expectations for corporates, the challenge is multi-tenancy and overcoming the added complexity of multiple businesses operating under one roof.
- Tech must be predictable, scalable and repeatable to effectively serve to your customers and your business.
- When it comes to flex-space and CRE, landlords are not staffed or equipped to service the space and create a platform operation.
- Laser focus on the operation is key.
NOW FOR SOME NUMBERS
“Between 2014 and the end of 2018, the number of flexible workspace locations expanded by 205% and the number of operators by 138%”
“In 2018, flexible workspaces accounted for more than 2/3rds of the U.S. office occupancy gains.”
“The global market value of flexible workspaces is estimated at an approximate $26 billion”
A combined $745 million was raised by The Wing, the Riveter, CommonGrounds Workplace, Awfis, Knotel and Industrious in 2019.
Find out more about flex-workspace Resources