For all the years since 2005 when Brad Neuberg first coined the new concept, coworking space has never come with uncertainty so high as in 2021. The global pandemic causedoffice workers to adopt remote ways of doing their duties, and many still haven’t got back to offices. Some had to switch to flexible working regimes—flexibility is now more important than ever!
Sharing of working space in an informal manner that combines features of working remotely from home and in the office was a perfect manifestation of a wider global trend. “Collaborative working” falls in the same category as blending different science branches into new ones like neurotechnology, for instance, for the purpose of creation of fundamentally new products. The global pandemic just gave it a motivational kick by changing the game’s rules.
Creative business thinking goes beyond contemplation: we’re not simply observing trends, but looking at the forces behind them, trying to understand their nature and play by their laws. Any unusual situation may be seen from two sides, the bright one and the dim one. Successful business leaders see not only problems but opportunities. And because the business world is made up of people, any decision taken has to be communicated somehow in order to be effective.
We’ve seen many examples of it this year, like the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board’s merger with the International Integrated Reporting Council to form the Value Reporting Foundation. The latter then worked with other global organizations as part of the technical readiness working group to ensure an easy start for the International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB). Its official launch was recently officially announced at the COP26 climate conference.
Collaborative working on global problems that affect us all creates synergies to solve them more effectively. Climate change, being an example of such problems, is easily traced back to the reasons behind the idea of the formation of the ISSB. Large international standard setters working together on standardization of climate disclosures is like a larger scale illustration of what coworking is about.
The global vaccination campaign has gained momentum and is now pressing forward at full speed. Without discussing pros and cons, let’s skip straight to the bottom line: for the first time in modern history, government regulators in so many jurisdictions are imposing an obligatory requirement for people who wish to work with others in close office spaces. Currently, it affects certain professions but may be extended to others in the future apart from medical workers or civil servants, depending on what the pandemic situation looks like.
Even in a crisis like that, there are opportunities to be pursued in addition to risks to be mitigated. If played smartly, there’s an opportunity for coworking spaces to become “COVID-free zones”. A more informal approach to the organization of the working space enables dozens of arrangement ideas of how to make it safe for anyone, even for those who haven’t gotten their vaccine shot yet.
Let's look at the technical side of it. The growing popularity of home automation and demand for fast mobile internet accelerated the development of the 5G standard. After recovering from last year's setback, the world's leading corporations and startups are actively investing in new infrastructure and applications in 2021 and are planning to increase investments further.
Global mobile operators are adopting the new technology at a fast pace, with South Korea, the USA, and China being the global leaders in adoption. There are more countries to follow. The 5G-enabled coworking spaces have already proved far more appealing as employment opportunities for people in the post-COVID reality.
Although online education became popular even before the introduction of the first lockdown, the number of remote students has greatly increased since then. However, high numbers of new COVID-19 cases make distance studying and tuition a more appealing option as compared to physically going to an art studio, for example. The coworking format easily allows arranging a remote studio on its premises and organizing virtual art classes via Zoom (a “symbol” of the pandemic) or by other means of broadcasting.
The same is true for virtual events in general, from board meetings to business conferences. The difference is in scale and the number of efforts required to make it work, but it is all possible with advanced 5G technologies and high-speed Internet connection. Is it necessary to mention that effective marketing of any such event or online course is absolutely necessary to raise people’s awareness?
Naturally, 2021 and the next years to come will bring an even higher demand for AI and other cutting-edge technologies. The scale of robotic process automation (RPA) will be huge, forming a new reality in productive industries. There are several consequences to it:
- To try something new,
- To study something new, or
- To work in the same profession, but differently.
Coworking spaces should be ready to satisfy the increased demand of their customers in the post-pandemic world. Developing technological infrastructure and being able to demonstrate one's readiness to the community is crucial to remain competitive in this “brave new world”.
A good example may be made with Kisi‘s cloud solutions for shared workspaces to prevent intrusion of other coworking tenants into someone else’s spaces. That or similar applications on the market may be easily integrated into the current coworking space management system and tuned for various clients’ needs and your needs as well. Customers will like the option to lock and unlock their office doors remotely through a user-friendly interface, while you might enjoy easy management of users’ access, including revocation of clearance from no longer active tenants.
There are many ways to tell potential clients about yourself, although not all of them are equally efficient. Coworking business has distinctive specifics which need to be taken into account.
In the middle of September, Financial Times and other news media around the world wrote about the Chinese crackdown on financial bloggers who may have formed foreign investors’ impression of the world’s second-largest economy not as plausible as the country’s government wants it to be. It all came in consequence to heightened doubts of Wall Street players concerning their earlier decisions to invest in China and whether they were worthwhile.
Because of the specificity of its political system, China provides a vivid illustration here: if financial bloggers were minor influencers, would they face such heavy oppression? Of course not.
Not all of them are equally influential, though. With so many workers on furlough last year, all of a sudden we saw many people looking for new ways to apply their professional skills and share their experience. Accordingly, 2020 brought a significant increase in the number of online business bloggers, although not all of their podcasts are worthy of your time.
We’re living in the digital era, so it would come to that anyway. The Internet space is flooded with various podcasts, which is why it is better to choose the ones ranked higher among their target audience. Also, with so many available platforms, different hosting options are available: it is possible to create a free account on YouTube or to make a choice in favor of podcast hosting platforms which provide even easier upload options for business podcasts.
Soft skills will definitely serve you well in business podcasting, but people usually like seeing more than listening. At least you need to show them something in support of what you’re telling them. A coworking platform is your virtual representation in the Internet space where you can demonstrate your “product” in the most appealing way.
An excellent solution is an online tour for potential coworking tenants that would allow them to see what they are offered for the price they are going to pay. Full transparency would be welcome in respect of tariffs, locations, events, and all other information necessary to make a decision. Photographs as illustrative materials are absolutely required, but they could be done even better with today’s virtual reality technologies.
It is not a coincidence that on Ukrainian Platforma (an example of coworking platforms just discussed) there is a separate section called “Blog”. Coworking is naturally highly tuned to the Internet community, which makes SEO especially important. That includes choosing reliable resources - external websites and social media—for guest posts to mention your electronic platform and place some links to invite potential customers to check it all out.
It’s like working on a website’s search engine optimization, the logic is basically the same. What complicated the task is that your target audience may be very diverse and spread across many websites with different rankings. How to choose among them for higher conversion rates? Forming an effective backlink portfolio is not an easy task in a coworking business.
Whether you’re new to the market or not, it is better to hire a backlink company for more effective backlink building. For newcomers, it’s better to leave this task to professionals who know the market well and may tell by merely looking at your proposal where to search for potential tenants. For an already established business, on the other hand, it would be better to leave the routine task to someone else and free more time for more value-adding business activities like strategic planning.
The pandemic has changed the business world, leaving almost none of its segments untouched. Despite its specificity, the coworking industry was also affected one way or another. Global trends are universal and dictate new rules of the game to adhere to. Some of them originated after the coronavirus outbreak, some were gaining momentum even before that, further accelerated by the pandemic.
Wider adoption of modern technologies, for example, was further motivated by a massive switch to remote work regimes. Where it could take several more years with a more conservative attitude, COVID-19 made virtual conferences a reality at an instant, and there are dozens of such examples. For coworking business owners, it all means the necessity to adopt new technologies (otherwise being at risk of losing competitive position to market rivals) and adapt to other major trends of 2022.