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3/28/2018

Coworking is growing – how will it affect facility management in 2018?

Coworking – what was a niche for freelancers and creatives is now on the verge to become a fully scaleable, modern version of facility management.

Coworking has long been a side project of overcrowded cities. It’s role was providing tech hubs for entrepreneurs and freelancers. In 2018, that will be over as we see coworking growing up into the collaborative workplace. Modern facility managers will borrow the name to attract a like-minded crowd into much larger, professionally run and flexibly paid spaces. I was asking myself – why does this happen? And there are in fact a few good reasons for it. Property owners as well as corporate enterprises love it!

coworking with free wifi

For all the non believers out there: Look at the comparison of coworking vs. facility management. Sure it’s a bit biased since people looking for coworking might produce the largest amount of search queries. Also not so many people might be interested in facility management. But exactly that’s the point, isn’t it?

google trends
Interest in coworking vs facility management over 5 years

If you want to play around, here’s the link to google trends:

https://www.google.com/trends/explore?q=coworking,facility%20management

Why property owners love the concept

When talking about the social workplace it’s easy to get excited by the traditional coworking values like collaboration, openness, community, accessibility and sustainability. However like any movement that is going mainstream there are a few very cold, hard reasons for it. It seems that property owners and building operators are understanding those very well:

  • More $ per sqft: The return per square foot can be around 300% of the return of an average leased space
  • Less vacancy: The small unit size from a single desk to a small suite makes facilities lean. Should there be open seats they can be quickly filled with one of the tenants on the waiting list.
  • Brand increase: Uplift of low profile building or even area
  • “Growing” tenants: Instead of getting into
  • Tech inside: No need for the landlord to think about the technology. Coworking space operators bring the tech stack with them as a service.

I can’t think of a single landlord who would say no to any of these reasons. Especially I can’t imagine a single one saying no to all of them together. That might be the reason why recently we’ve seen a lot of under the radar developments of entire properties or city areas into these modern environments.

The strange thing is that it feels almost like a facility company within a facility company.

free wifi starbucks

Enterprises are on board too

Now the other group that gets excited about coworking are corporate companies. Call it social or collaborative workplace or lean enterprise – similar to landlords there are a few good reasons for them to buy in:

  • Local advantage: For many different industries it makes sense to have someone on ground for technical support, sales, community or management.
  • Recruiting: Relocating is a big decision and some talent might be easier hired if they can stay in their current city or choose they favorite city.
  • Instant ramp up: Finding an office, signing a long lease, hiring an interior architect, equipping it with the necessary technology takes 6+ months. Who has that time today?
  • Staying up to date: Exchanging new ideas, software tools or tech experiences with coworkers makes you think out of the box and helps stay at the cutting edge.
  • No technical overhead: Professional coworking operators provide enterprise level infrastructures from internet to printing or video conferencing and room booking.

It has to be clear: If we talk about coworking, we mean modern facility management. The coworking industry might own the values and hold true to the original concept of coworking. However making money and building a business on top of the coworking idea seems to become a legit source of revenue.

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