As the gig economy takes off, more and more people are choosing to ditch their inner city or inner factory careers and go it alone as freelancers. Many, of course, are being pushed into freelancing. This upsurge in home-working, freelance entrepreneurs creates a massive business opportunity for commercial property management innovators to create a hub, a communal work-space where isolated freelancer can come together for social comfort and to collaborate. This highly disruptive trend is known as co-working and rather than have a one-company-one-office model, it operates as a flexible hub that multiple freelancers can operate from, separately. These co-working spaces are a new, disruptive type of office and it will take a new, disruptive breed of entrepreneur to make one work.
Here’s 10 tips to help you build a profitable co-working space
1. Understand Your Potential Community. As with any new business, do your market research and ensure that you have the demand for a hub/co-workspace. You could attend some local networking events and present your idea to gauge interest, or even setup your own event, or you could start a group on Facebook and meetup and invite friends and
colleagues to join. Within a few months, you’ll soon be able to gauge the demand you have for this service and you can then develop an initial hub/co-working space in line with the predicted demand.
2.Location, Location, Location. This is crucial. Make it as accessible as possible. Where possible, find somewhere with free and easy parking nearby, but at the very least, it should be near to public transport. A survey by Deskmag found that 81% of co-workers want snack bars and restaurants nearby, and nearly two-thirds want a supermarket in the vicinity.
3. Smaller is better. Once again do your research into your potential community’s preferences for size, but the desk-mag research suggests that co-workers generally like small, interactive spaces with less than 20 people. Just 4% said they liked a work-space that was larger than 50 people.
4.Open plan with private booths when needed. As you would expect, your co-working community do not want to be boxed away in cubicles, but they do want the ability to have private conversations from time to time, revealed the desk-mag survey. Think about having a co-working space that is a mix of open shared, working areas but which has small, closed rooms for meetings and private conversations.
5. Amenities and Facilities. The Desk-mag survey found, unsurprisingly, that 99% of co-workers wanted internet access and another 80% wanted a printer, 76% want at least one meeting room and 61% would like a cafe, with 50% wanting a kitchen. Clearly, internet access, a meeting room and printers are must-haves.
6.Don’t worry about recreational facilities. Recreational facilities like table tennis or pool-tables are not important to co-workers, with just a quarter of respondents to the desk-mag survey saying that they are important. The real estate could be put to much better use, e.g. more desks, more revenue and more profits.
7.Build a great, fun atmosphere. Perhaps the most important finding from the deskmag survey was that co-workers believe that it was the friendly atmosphere and other co-workers that made the place enjoyable and not the infrastructure.
8.24 Hour Access. It’s not a deal-breaker but the study did find that co-workers did generally prefer to have 24 hour access.
9.Events and Education. Hosting regular events will serve as an additional income stream and will help to market your co-working space to others in the community. Having members run events on things like tax, HR, web design etc… are great ways to attract like-minded potential co-workers to your space.
Top 3 Books To help You Build A Profitable Co-working Space
1.The Style of Coworking: Contemporary Shared Work Spaces, by Alice Davies (Author), Kathryn Tollervey (Author). If you are looking to setup a co-working space either within your own business or as a B2C venture, you should get this book. The book details out 30 of the most impressive co-working spaces around the world, including the Google Campus in London, the HUBs global network of spaces. Each space is illustrated with a wide angle and close-up shots, providing page after page of inspiration, one of which includes re-purposing a shipping container.
2.The Coworking Handbook: Learn How To Create and Manage a Succesful Coworking Space, by Ramon Suarez (Author), Amy Segreti (Editor), & 5 more. This co-working handbook will teach you everything you need to know about opening, managing and growing a successful co-working space. It shows you how to avoid the common pitfalls and includes lots of golden nuggets of info from experts and founders in the co-working movement. The Author is the founder of the Betacowork coworking space in Brussels, which is a hub for professionals with 200 members.
3.Make Space: How to Set the Stage for Creative Collaboration, by Scott Doorley (Author), Scott Witthoft (Author), & 2 more. If you want to encourage creativity and collaboration in your office you’ll need to have this book to hand. It is based on research from Stanford University and the book is a tool that shows you how space can be used to ignite creativity. It has countless strategy to help you re-engineer an existing space to enhance the way teams collaborate. It includes real-life case studies and example scenarios and layouts for sparking creativity.