Women-focused Coworking Space as a Current Business Trend
Gone are the days when people had to get up early in the morning and hurry to the office rain or fire. Now we have the freedom of choice. You can sign a contract with any company from overseas and work remotely. Not everyone is ready to leave the country to find a dream job. All of us have roots, ties, and responsibilities. Remote employment together with women-focused coworking is a great chance to balance personal life and career without any sacrifice.
This is especially topical for mompreneurs.
Mompreneur is a neologism defined as a female business owner who is actively balancing the role of mom and the role of an entrepreneur.
When you are taking care of the family and raising kids, it's not that easy to embody a professional ambition. The flexibility of remote contracts enabling to choose when and where to work is one of the ways to go for a modern business lady.
Women have been victims of gender bias and stereotypes throughout human history. The past 200 years are notable for the improvements in these respects. Women have gained far-ranging legal rights, girls around the world have achieved vastly increased educational attainment, etc.
Still, some statistics are frustrating.
Globally only 23% of parliamentarians are women.
Gender inequality in access to primary schooling is an issue in 68 countries.
More women have entered the paid workforce in recent decades; however, they typically work in the informal sector, characterized by poor earnings and insecurity (OECD 2015).
From the persistence of gender pay gaps to the 65 – 110 million women missing in 2002 due to discriminatory access to medical or dietary resources throughout their lives (Klasen and Wink 2002), to this day women have not achieved equality with men in terms of institutional treatment or well-being outcomes.
According to a poll organized by the Thomson Reuters Foundation, work-life balance and the gender pay gap are on top of the critical concerns list for women in countries with well-developed economies.
- Work-life balance
- Equal pay
- Career opportunities
- Children and career
The global report states that four in every ten believe the gender pay gap to be a key issue.
As you see, there's still much to be done in terms of gender imparity as in some communities women are still subjected to discrimination.
Prejudices still hurt women's work lives, which results in less pay and fewer career opportunities.
The truth is that 52% of the women notice that men either in the same role or junior to them make more money than they do.
The salary employers offer to women initially is often lower than the amount offered to men in the same role.
The roots of this problem are deeper than may seem. Employers often ask applicants about their salary history and base their starting offer on that data. This means if a woman had lower salaries in the past, she will suffer from money deficit again. 53% of women report that they had been asked for salary history. So, the discrepancy in men and women’s pay compounds over a working person’s lifetime.
On average, a woman earns $9,909 less than a man every year according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau.
Speaking about inequity, I can't help mentioning a common workplace phenomenon of the “motherhood penalty” and the “fatherhood bonus“. Traditionally, men having kids are considered family breadwinners. When men become dads, they start to get raises easier.
Meanwhile, what happens when a woman becomes a mom? Employers start to think they are less committed to their jobs, which makes the salary gap even wider.
According to the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC) analysis of U.S, Census data, working mothers make about 71¢ to a working father’s dollar, resulting in a loss of about $16,000 in earnings for moms every year.
Of course, there are many legitimate ways to fight gender bias and stereotypes. Creating a safe environment for women, where they feel support and encouragement is one of them. That's why we are talking about a new trend in the coworking business. A wave of women-focused coworking spaces that are being launched these days creates that environment for members.
Being a coworking software vendor, our team has lots of opportunities to talk to operators and managers of women-only workspaces. This is a key point why they started female coworking business — to create a safe environment for women that encourages them.
In a traditional coworking space, surrounded by male-centric IT teams and freelancers, there is still a risk of bullying and inequality, simply because women are in a huge minority in the IT industry.
Did you know that the first person who published an algorithm was a woman? An English mathematician, Ada Lovelace is considered the author of the first computer program.
The IT sector is still far from gender equality. According to the 2018 Women in Tech Index by Honeypot, the female IT workforce is less than 31%.
Anyway, this article is aimed at highlighting a positive coworking business trend (instead of drawing well-known facts), so I would like to finish this block on an optimistic note as the situation with gender inequity is much better today than it was 35 years ago. I believe it will be getting better each year with the rising popularity of women-centered coworking centers.
Well, suppose you are a woman-entrepreneur. You applied to the position of your dream, and they agreed that you would work remotely. You have a bunch of your weekly tasks that must be completed on time.
You can accomplish some of them from your home laptop but for the rest, you need faster internet, powerful desktop computer, printer, scanner, the list goes on.
Furthermore, you need to carry out several meetings with peers, customers, and partners. You must look professional to make a good impression. You can't efficiently pitch your service to the customer with your kids curiously peeking into your monitor, your cat trying to lie on your keypad, your mom coming unexpectedly to see her grandchildren, and many other cute things that scare your boss, partners, and customers a mile.
After a dozen of unavailing attempts to write a brilliant product description, you understand that your time-management goes flop. You could do it if you have 15 minutes of peace. But this luxury is unobtainable at home.
You decide to go to the nearest coworking space but then recollect that your toddler's nanny has a day off, you have an appointment at the beauty salon, and your fitness coach is waiting for you at the gym.
Now let's interrupt our story and talk about marketing. Ideally, before developing a product, an entrepreneur must clearly understand who is their target audience, what are their pains, and how the innovative product will help to relieve those pains.
Then we create a persona (our prospective customer), name them, state their gender, marital status, kids, pets, hobbies, occupations, job, in a word everything that can help us tailor an irresistible sales pitch.
Does this make sense to you? That is the reason why we are talking about female-centric coworking as an excellent innovative way of running a workspace business.
The facilities top-rated women's coworking spaces provide are:
- Private offices
- Large classrooms
- Conference rooms
- Flexible work stations
- Lactation rooms for new mothers
- Complimentary coffee and tea
- Free parking
- Complimentary yoga, meditation, and barre classes for members
- Access to sprawling library
- Showers and spacious bathrooms
- Hair blowouts
- Room to nap in
- Beauty Salon
- Events for members
- Mobile apps for remote booking
Will the investment pay off? Definitely! The Wing women-only coworking space is a brilliant example of masterly targeted marketing strategy success. Several thousand women are on their waiting list to join.
A women-only workspace must take into consideration the difference in male and female tastes and perceptions.
Women are more emotional and subject to stress (28% vs. 20% percent according to a study by the American Psychological Association), so your utmost goal is to give them the comfort they deserve. Some coworking spaces for women style their workspaces as spa salons. Spending a day at the spa where interior details appeal to five senses is tempting.
Pro tip: Bring fresh green plants, art pieces, use calming colors, flavor the air with the scent of relaxing aromatic candles, play soft music in the background. Offer your guests fresh coffee, spa water, and snacks, along with comfortable seating arrangements.
Some colors are traditionally considered feminine. They appeal most strongly to women's audience and are smart choices for marketing messages, websites, and interior designs targeting women. According to multiple color studies, the favorite colors of women and men differ.
Please note that the division of feminine, masculine, and gender-neutral colors is rather nominal. Colors come in so many tints and shades. So, if you strongly dislike dark green, you may love mint. There are no universally appropriate shades, yet some generalizations are possible.
Here is a brief recap of colors loved by women.
- Blue you can use both for male and female-oriented spaces. Both genders and all age groups love it. Blue has a calming effect. The shades of blue particularly loved by women include cerulean, azure, baby blue, beryl, cornflower blue, robin's egg blue, and sapphire.
- Green is one more unisex color favored both by men and women. Green is calm and restful, and it is associated with growth, renewal, health, and the environment. The shades of green loved by most of the women are jade, beryl, leaf green, lime, mint moss, pine, sea green, seafoam, spring green, and viridian colors.
- Blue-green is also known as the turquoise. The color is a mix of two cool colors favored by women. Turquoise colors include aquamarine, aqua, cerulean, teal, and ultramarine.
- Purple us the color favored exclusively by women and strongly disliked by men. It is traditionally associated with royalty, spirituality, romantics, and mystery. Shades of purple are amethyst, eggplant, indigo, lilac, magenta, mauve, mulberry, orchid, plum, pomegranate, violet, and wine.
- Lavender is associated with genteel ladies and can evoke nostalgia or romance. Lavender includes shades of lilac, mauve, orchid, plum, and thistle.
Color studies say that women prefer soft over bright colors. Does it mean that coworking for women should be all soft pastels or royal purples? No way! You should involve many more factors in selecting hues. Gender is only one consideration. Remember that a color that successfully targets young women in the USA turns into failure in Germany.
So what should you do? Mind that feminine colors are not universal, research symbolism, preference, and psychological effect of certain colors and color combinations.
Women go to coworking spaces not because of their eye-candy design. First of all, they go there to work. So, your coworking space must cover their primary professional needs.
Provide business ladies with every piece of equipment they require for everyday work. You must take care of everything, we mean from little things like staples and pens to bigger tools like printers and copy machines. It goes without saying that you must have a stable high-speed internet connection, landline telephones, and other office hardware gadgets.
Demonstrate that you have high online and offline safety standards. Your customers don't want to worry about their data, business files, and other stuff. It must remain intact. Mount surveillance cameras, install anti-hacking software, develop data governance procedures in case of data breaches. No matter how beautiful is your female-focused coworking space, no businesswoman will rent a spot there if it's not trustworthy.
Impress your visitors from the very beginning. Use innovative coworking software to run your space. Make the process of booking, payment, and access automated. Notify them with popup reminders about their bookings, send welcome messages to the newcomers. Don't make the ladies wait. Provide ultimate simplicity and comfort at every step letting to apply for perks, services, and book meeting rooms online. This will help you keep your visitors, make them come back every now and again, and truly embrace your community.
(a committed entrepreneur on her way to creating an ideal female-focused coworking in France)
Since there is no such thing as the ideal coworking space, Ivanne and her friend Eva decided to join forces to create their own in Poissy (location in the western suburbs of Paris). This coworking space will be female-focused.
But before launching the enterprise, Ivanne and Eva decided to have a concrete experience of coworkings for women, to meet those who make them, use them and bring them to life. So, she set an objective to visit about twenty of women-centric coworking spaces located in 12 countries from the Atlantic to the Baltic in over six months, at the rate of one week of immersion per month.
Initiated in September 2019, their investigation continued until February 2020. Read more about the journey in the Ivanne's article "From the Atlantic to the Baltic, why I undertook a European tour of women-focused coworking spaces" on Medium.
Helga: You say that there is no such thing as the ideal coworking space. What amenities should a workplace provide to become ideal?
Ivanne: Your list is already very comprehensive. I'll add phonebooths on top of the list, then big lockers, nap room, and shower, as fundamentals.
I found one coworking space with an "emergency room" for mothers without childcare (check Wonder, Berlin): they never use it but feel relieved at the idea there would be a plan B in case their babysitter/partner/relatives can't take care for the child.
But I disagree with the idea that the ideal coworking space is only a matter of amenities. It relies on a close-knitted community and the talent of the manager in conveying the right atmosphere, both focused, benevolent and playful (hence, of course, the events).
Helga: What were the worst things about the coworking spaces you worked in before?
Ivanne: Incivilities: voluntary noise, dishes not washed by coworkers, meeting rooms not replaced. Guess who was the usual suspect? I even saw people throw trash on the floor because the trash can was full (and though there was another one 20 meters ahead!).
Helga: What main challenges do women-only coworkings have to overcome to grow and succeed in France?
Ivanne: Too early to answer but I guess as everywhere: sexism and self-censorship.
Helga: What is your personal forecast as to women-only coworking business development?
Ivanne: Do it for the mission, not the money. Very tough business with low-profit margin, the key to sustainability relies on diversification without burning yourself out.
Women-centric coworking spaces featured below beautifully illustrate all the tips stated above.
- Description: Founded in 2016, The Wing is a growing community uniting women across the country and globe. A place to work, connect, and thrive.
- Facilities: Speedy wifi, free coffee, showers, beauty room, conference rooms, library, mother's room, quiet rooms, lockers, changing stations.
- Description: The coworking opened its doors to 150 founding members on March 8, 2018, the International Women's Day in Minneapolis. They believe when women are together, they create magic.
- Facilities: Meal planning services, professional coaching, weekly fitness classes, concierge services, including task management, package return, and more.
- Description: AllBright members’ clubs provide elegant spaces in London offering a home away from home for the community of like-minded women to put the work in, network, unwind, and be inspired.
- Facilities: Private event space, cinema room, restaurant & bar, beauty & wellness salon, in-house art collection, and more.
- Description: The Assembly is a wellbeing club in San Francisco. It creates space for people to discover and practice what makes them feel good. Assembly pursuits the ideas of bringing comfort, health, and happiness to the world.
- Facilities: Acupuncture and cupping, yoga, and fitness classes, weekend field trips to the coast, located in a 100-year-old former church with soaring ceilings and plenty of natural light.
- Description: The Riveter is a modern union for working women offering content, community, and coworking spaces. All amenities are designed with a focus on women and work.
- Facilities: 24-hour access, private phone booths, professional programming, modern open design, insanely fast internet, HD projectors, mother's rooms, member events, conference rooms, etc.
- Description: Make Lemonade is a recently opened coworking space for women located in the heart of Toronto. Their mission is to create a community of driven women who create, dream, and get sh*t done.
- Facilities: Driven community, phone booths, really good internet, printing services, locker storage, mail services, 24/7 access, unlimited tea & coffee, meeting rooms, unique workspace.
- Description: The Hivery is a collaborative and creative coworking space in Mill Valley where women can pursue their work, passions, ideas, and what’s next.
- Facilities: More than just a desk and some coffee. They offer gorgeous workspace, workshops, events, mixers, education, mentorship, collaboration, and more.
- Description: BLOOM is a coworking space brand developed and managed by Jumpstart, which is a provider of world-class serviced offices in Hong Kong and Shanghai. BLOOM pursues a goal to create the environment for members to bloom and flourish.
- Facilities: BLOOM takes full responsibility for your workspace, community and connections, and all the resources they can put in to help. Workspace managers arrange lots of events and invite authoritative speakers to share their business growth tips and success stories.
- Description: One Roof was launched as a test, a pop-up coworking space in an Airbnb mansion in St Kilda. The mission of the workspace is to provide everything women need to succeed in their businesses and careers all under one roof. Nearly 500 ladies walked through the doors in less than a week, so the community was on to big things.
- Facilities: One Roof is a physical space and virtual club helping members thrive professionally and personally. They’ll back you, introduce you, advise you and inspire you providing space to work, good company, great hospitality, mentoring, investment opportunities, events, nannying services, self-care, and networking opportunities.
- Description: FRANKLY CO is a workspace in Austin that informs and encourages the professional development of members while supporting the absolute truth and helping to navigate other aspects of life feeling sane and motivated.
- Facilities: FRANKLY CO offers the professional space and the feel-damn-good space. It’s space for connection and development. They invite new speakers every week to run educational workshops.
Today, when a remote work style is the choice of lots of millennials, coworking business gets an excellent opportunity for growth, especially if you care for ultimate members' comfort. Male and female customers have different requirements, and it's challenging (not to say impossible) to meet all of them in a conventional coworking space.
Women-focused coworking is spinning its wheels, and you have a chance to catch and ride this wave. At least now you know what women want and how others have managed to adjust their businesses to female needs.
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