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

By Bernhard Mehl
May 29, 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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Phone-based systems are not just a small-business solution. CEO of Kisi, Bernhard Mehl, comments: “If you see the average of three doors connected then that might seem low but, in reality, one door relates to around 50 employees—so those are locations with about 150 people on average, including satellite offices. That’s quite significant.”

Mobile Access Control Adoption by Industry

Kisi examined which industries are investing the most in mobile access control technology. To do so, the average size of mobile access control installation projects by industry were measured. Commercial real estate topped the list with 23.5 doors running mobile access per facility. Education management came in last with 1.0 door running mobile access per facility. 

Physical Security Statistics: Mobile Access by Industry


The number of shooting incidents at K-12 schools, according to the CHDS, reached an all-time high at 97 incidents in 2018—compared to 44 in 2017. Cloud-based access control companies, like Kisi, offer a lockdown feature for active shooter situations or emergencies, making it an effective protective layer for places that are targeted, such as religious institutions, which come in near the top of the list with 4.0 doors running mobile access per facility. 

Based on industry size, it makes sense that commercial real estate tops the list, with 23.5 doors running mobile access per facility. Cloud-based access control enables these larger organizations to scale more seamlessly and allows large organizations, like telecommunications, to deploy the most manageable IT solutions available, eliminating the need to create and manage a business’s own IT infrastructure over time.

“Commercial real estate is, of course, the driver of mobile adoption since they have the largest buildings,” Mehl adds. “The key here is to show that mobile-first technologies are not a risk but an innovation that brings positive ROI and allows agencies to reposition their buildings as forward-thinking establishments.”

The scalabelilty and ease of use in onboarding an organization allows many different types of industries and businesses of different sizes to adapt a cloud-based access control system, either using keycard or mobile credentials for access. 


Mobile Access Control by State

Looking specifically at the United States, Kisi analyzed in which states companies are investing the most into upgrading to smartphone-enabled access systems. Of the currently installed base of access control readers, around 20 percent will be mobile capable by 2022, according to a recent IHS report. Cloud-based systems, like Kisi, are future-proof—allowing over-the-air updates in real time and unlimited scalability for users.


“Mobile unlock technology makes you think of the major tech hubs like New York, San Francisco or Los Angeles,” Mehl adds. “Looking at which states have the largest projects, it’s surprising and refreshing that those are not the typical ‘tech cities, and yet that’s where access control technology really makes an impact.” The fact that the largest projects are seen in states outside of the typical tech startup landscape is evidence that mobile access control is highly applicable across industry sectors.


For further questions about this study, reach out to Kait Hobson (kait@getkisi.com)

Bernhard Mehl

Bernhard is the co-founder and CEO of Kisi. His philosophy, "security is awesome," is contagious among tech-enabled companies.

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