Hi everyone. I am checking in to find out what people are seeing as trends in their area for coworking space post covid. We pivoted a lot during covid. We have just been allowed to re-open. How did you cope. What are your plans now?
In Spain, coworking spaces have been open for a long time and they are working fine.
Well first of all I recommend you this the Deskmag Survey about coworking space survey trends, super useful to see the data gathered.
Besides that I see the big trend of
- integrating hybrid corporates into your community which happens over flex desks or rented private offices
- virtual office services
What is your opinion @oowefawe ?
If you want to read more, I recently posted a blogpost about it
Cheers from Germany!
Whew, what a ride it’s been. Glad to hear things are improving in Calgary.
I can’t speak to what others are doing, but I’m happy to share a recap of worked for us in hopes that it provides some ideas and inspiration for you:
- We chose to close, and stay closed starting in March 2020. We prioritized keeping our community together through online experiences, and ensuring that we could continue paying our team.
- By October 2020, we had figured out the basis of an expanded model for online coworking & community that was both attractive and valuable enough to start signing up new members again. We had a solid running start here, since we’ve always had an online community (1, 2). The big difference was it now had our undivided attention, and we were able to make it a first class experience focused on a virtual work day. We eventually raised the price of our online membership by 2x, allowing existing members to optionally pay the new price, and many did because they felt like they were getting a ton of value from it.
- In May of 2021 we experimented with a cohort based onboarding experience for the online community that we called “Indy Hall Summer Camp.” I think this was a very good idea, and people responded well, but was unfortunately derailed by…
- In July of 2021, after more than a year of negotiation, we were able to terminate our lease and walk away from our space that we’d been in since 2016. There’s a whole bunch of lessons I can share from this experience, but the biggest one is that while the instinct to “save the space” was obvious, it would have absolutely killed us long term. Being willing to walk away from the space was a powerful negotiation tool.
- In October 2021, before the weather got cold, we experimented with some pop-up outdoor coworking at a nearby park space. This was extremely successful and something I expect that we’ll bring back when the weather gets nice again.
- Around the same time, I began talking to some local business owners, in particular agencies who had space they were not using because even though their business was healthy, their teams preferred to continue work remote some or all of the time.
- We originally planned to experiment by continuing our pop-ups in these spaces once the weather got to cold to work outside…but ended up striking a deal with one of them to run a more dedicated pilot in November and December, with NO money changing hands. We ran members-only coworking days in their space a few days a week, requiring vaccination. Anyone who was already a paying member of our online community could attend for free, with a capped attendance.
- We noticed during these trials and pop-ups, and in conversations we kept having, that most people weren’t looking for a dedicated office or desk, but instead a way to get out of the house once in a while to change their scenery or get a break from the monotony of working from home. We tried out this messaging and it resonated a LOT, so we took it into consideration while thinking about our new membership options.
- We re-launched with a spread of flexible memberships in February, and reached our 3 month target for membership in less than 2 months almost entirely from our existing members upgrading to a coworking membership with access to the new space. We’re on track to double again within 3 months or so, with lots of room to grow with our tweaked membership model.
- Now that we’ve been doing it for a few months, we have a better handle on the new versions of our old operations. In addition to better procedures around COVID safety, there’s an increased need for single-use private spaces for phone calls. At the same time, I don’t want to create a space where people come and then vanish into a private room all day. So we’ve decided that since our goal is NOT to become a replacement for the office, that we’re positioning our space as an “escape from being at home all day, trapped on zoom calls” and people are really connecting with that, which takes the pressure off of us to do more meeting/phone room stuff.
- In the coming weeks, we’re going to begin reaching out to members who cancelled during the pandemic to invite them to try out the new space; we’ve also grown a sizable waiting list from people who were looking for coworking spaces while we were closed, and will begin building momentum to invite them in too.
- While our membership model hasn’t changed a lot (it’s still based on these core principles), the deal we negotiated with our landlord has aligned our incentives in a way we’ve never had before and puts us in a position to grow and reinvest in totally new ways.
- One of the most interesting parts of the new coworking space membership is that it’s a mix of members who were a part of past spaces, people who are brand new to our community, and a totally new segment of people who joined our community DURING the pandemic, entirely online, and over the last few months are meeting in person for the first time. It’s been so cool to see this unfold.
The pandemic tested us in a bunch of ways, but the biggest one was proving the true strength of the thing we’ve always said it was: people feeling connected to each other.
While isolated and in lockdown, we became a lifeline for a lot of people. Sure, we lost some members but we retained a majority of them through the last 2 years and a very large % of the people who left said they would re-join when it made sense.
Regardless of how long they’ve been a member, everyone has a change to feel like a “founding member” of the new space, and we can put a ton of our energy into creating that sense of belonging and ownership that’s very difficult (or impossible) to create after the fact.
Best of all, we’re re-running our entire playbook from 15 years ago, again. I’ve used the analogy of “new game plus” to describe this phase of our community. We’re being given a chance to “start over” and fix problems that would’ve been difficult or impossible to fix without a fresh start, but we also get to do it with 15 years of earned knowledge, relationships, and perspective.
The pandemic isn’t over, but I’m enthusiastic that this “reinvention” is even more rooted in our original core values than the version of Indy Hall that existed in January 2020 before this whole thing began.
We’ll keep making people our priority. It’s the only reason we’re still here doing what we’ve always done, only better.