Earlier this month, team CoLo took on New York City, for the Global Coworking Unconference Conference 2017. GCUC (pronounced ‘juicy’) is the biggest coworking conference series in the world, that welcomes everyone from coworking newbies to well-established global players.
The Growth of the Coworking Market
Coworking isn’t just a trend anymore - it’s a well-established market, that is continuing to grow at pace. In fact, by the end of the year, nearly 1.2 million people worldwide will have worked in a coworking space. Plus, by the end of 2017, there will be over 13,800 coworking spaces worldwide, showing 22% annual growth.
GCUC was networking-intensive, where we meet so many incredible humans from coworking operators to product developers. We were spoilt to connect with industry thought leaders, like Alex Hillman, Indy Hall and Greg Lindsay from FastCompany.
Compared to last year’s GCUC, this year saw a noticeable decrease in the number of real estate conference-goers compared to coworking owners and operators - a shift indicative of the coworking market’s growth. There was a definite community vibe at the conference, compared to the more commercial-heavy vibe of the 2016 conference.
In terms of commercial-focus, there was still plenty of discussion on the importance of knowing what deals to take on, and which to walk away from. I think everyone was in agreeance that businesses need to grow for the right reasons rather than just growing for the sake of it.
Focusing more on the human aspect meant there were a lot of valuable learnings that resonated with what we’re doing with CoLo. One thing that was apparent in talking to other coworking operators, was their desire to scale and grow that was hindered by the fear that scaling means having to give up some aspect of their culture or community.
In reality, having a unique culture and community actually gives smaller spaces an equal footing to the big players because at the end of the day, it’s about who provides the most meaningful resident experience rather than who has the most square-metres of space.
Growth can also come in different shapes and sizes. For smaller spaces, or those who may not have the capital to expand into new locations, there are coworking listing sites and marketplaces that help spaces scale, but not necessarily in a sustainable way. Getting people in the door is one thing, retaining them is another. CoLo received a lot of positive feedback on the fact that CoLo matches people with the spaces and the communities in order to create more meaningful connections and sustainable relationships.
The Future of Work
CoLo is built on the belief that the future of work is social, and that belief was further reaffirmed during our time in the US. As the coworking market becomes increasingly competitive and diverse, understanding your uniqueness has become more important than ever. So, what really stood out to us was how incredibly important it is to know who you are as a space, an operator - and most importantly - as a community. For us, that means continuing to put our residents first and foremost, to ensure they have the most meaningful experience possible whenever they set foot in CoLo spaces.
Coworking operators are slowly beginning to move away from the idea that the desks and chairs are the fundamentals, and instead, are beginning to focus on the human aspect and the importance of creating meaningful connections.
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