The Six Elements of Coworking – A 3D Coworking Model

When designing a coworking space, many are under the false impression that it’s as simple as outfitting a space with some desks, WiFi, and decent coffee and the members will start rolling in. Maybe at one point. However, as this industry grows and coworking models become more complex, so does the design process. At Agora RDM, we’ve developed a comprehensive 3D Coworking Model based on our 3D process: Define | Design | Drive . This model incorporates six elements to consider when designing a flex-use or shared workspace.

The Six Elements of Coworking

More Than Shared Workspace

The rise in collaborative consumption and the sharing economy movement have spurred an increase in popularity of flex-use and shared workspace models. Pairing Space as a Service with assorted business resources, these facilities provide countless benefits to all who use them. Today, you’ll find coworking models of all different shapes and sizes. While there is much debate about the necessity of various bells and whistles some spaces offer, there are three basic factors which must be present in any coworking model.

A driving force behind the popularity of coworking is the ability for individuals who work alone to engage in much needed social interaction. Social or professional groups based around a common interest or skill set, have formed, providing a network to solo workers. Networks can exist in various forms, virtual or in person, however they maintain their integrity regardless of geographic location. When introducing designated space into the equation, you have what Ray Oldenburg, author of Great Good Place calls “Third Space”. Traditional Third Spaces include places such as: coffee shops, internet cafés, libraries, and business lounges.

Defining Differentiating Factors

The differentiating factor between a coworking space and a traditional Third Space is the implementation of intentionally curated experience. These experiences often come in the form of programing and events designed to benefit the user. They also provide operators with benefits such as marketing and additional revenue streams.

To state this in its most simple form:

  • A person working alone is missing out…
  • A person connecting with others creates a network…
  • A network with a space, is a Third Space…
  • A Third Space with purposeful experience, is a coworking space.

We admit, the line between third space and coworking can appear blurry. While the question “What is real coworking?” is often a heated debate within the industry, it’s widely accepted that coworking, no matter the business model, must account for each of these 3 factors: People, Space, and Experience.

Elements = The Tangible & Intangible Components of Each Factor

Each one of these three factors are in reality a spectrum, rather than a fixed concept. Through defining each factor, we have identified pairs of corresponding elements which represent tangible and intangible end of that continuum. Each element itself is then made up of various conditions.

In doing so we find:

  1. The factor of “Space” includes the physical (your Facility, and all aspects that come with it) as well as the intangible (referred to as Purpose, or your “why”).
  2. The factor of “People” includes the spectrum of both internal and external communities. With your members (referred to as Users) being at one end and Stakeholders represented at the other.
  3. The term “Experience” includes both active and passive engagement. How your members interact with your space (the User Engagement) as well as how your space interacts with them (Hospitality).

Understanding the spectrum present within each of these three factors is of vital importance when valuing the elements as corresponding components.(ie; a facility with no purpose is essentially just shared real estate, whereas purpose with no facility is a pipe dream)

When applying this thought process to all three factors at once, you’ll see the image begins to form a 3D cube. The factors of Space, People, and Experience all act as height, width, and depth. The corresponding elements of each factor thus account for parallel sides of the cube. Define, phase one of our Define | Design | Drive process provides organizations with data to be used when charting where their elements fall on each factor’s parallel planes.

Thinking about developing a flex-use or shared workspace business model? Our Define consulting services can provide you with the insight and guidance to mitigate financial risk. Contact us today!

MarketScale Building Management Podcast 12/12/18

AgoraRDM Co-Founder Mike LaRosa was interviewed by MarketScale’s Building Management podcast on 12/12/18. This episode takes a look at the various ways that facilities can make the most of their available space. From music venues utilizing their space for multiple events, to automated parking garages, and coworking spaces, one of the objectives for each of these projects is to make the most of the limited amount of space at each particular facility.

A Crash Course on Coworking Spaces

Copied from the MarketScale Building Management blogpost:

Chances are you hadn’t heard of coworking spaces ten years ago, but you’ve almost certainly heard of them now. What caused this surge in the market? Mike LaRosa, Co-Found of Agora RDM, is an expert in these types of spaces. He joined the show to talk about the factors that combined to create an environment for growth and the best practices these coworking spaces should employ to maximize their success.

“As coworking has evolved, or as we like to say, space as a service has evolved, folks are identifying a slew of different ways to monetize under-utilized space,” LaRosa says. He calls the combination of factors that led to the explosion of coworking spaces as “the perfect storm”, referencing the downturn in the economy ten years ago, an increase in remote employees, and the desire of younger generations to free themselves from the tradition office setting.

MarketScale Building Management

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Looking to Monetize Underutilized Space?

Agora RDM integrates real estate management practices with the principles of coworking to provide all-inclusive solutions for flex-use or shared work spaces, community builders, institutional developers and investment trusts alike.

Beyond offering consulting services to shared workspace owners and operators, Agora RDM uniquely specializes in developing non-traditional shared space concepts in addition to offering facility management services.

Believers in the discipline of “Space as a Service”  with focus on the client’s overarching business goals, Agora RDM works with organization’s existing resources such as amenities and shadow or underutilized space to create new revenue streams and/or grow the sales of existing products and services.

Contact us today for a one hour complimentary space analysis to learn how you can monetize underutilized space, today!

The post MarketScale Building Management Podcast 12/12/18 was first published on AgoraRDM.

Abundance vs. Scarcity: Why Collaboration Always Beats Competition

For most of my coworking life (the last four or so years) I’ve felt at best like a bench warmer and at worst like a spectator of a sport. Imagine I’m a fan of all the teams on the field which are all playing at the same time. Cheering for one person’s goal knowing that it’s because of another’s error or bad luck is complicated. I’ve had the privilege to work on great coworking projects, but none have been a space of my own. Being like “Switzerland” has allowed for a unique perspective of both operator and member alike.

Having a front row seat to the evolution happening to the industry has been exciting, although a little frustrating. Yes, the industry is innovative and growing fast, but many operators are doing the same things (both good and bad). Smart owners are focusing on what sets them apart rather than being the cheapest of “all the other spaces”. And the smarter folks are engaging with their peers rather than avoiding them.

Sure there are plenty of coworking conferences that grant you access to peers in the industry. These industry events are happening in more places more often, but what about your local or regional peers? Are you engaged with the other spaces in your town, city, state, or country? Do you know about all the different ways you can collaborate with other spaces rather than compete with them?

Associations, Federations and Alliances, Oh My!

The first way to collaborate instead of competing is through some form of alliance, federation or association. The Kansas City Coworking Alliance (KCCA) is an award-winning coalition of local shared spaces within the Kansas City, MO metro area. Benefits include meet ups and and passport-like services at multiple spaces. They even hit the world record of the most people to cowork at the same time. Melissa Saubers, owner of Cowork Waldo and a founding member of KCCA, shared that the spaces witnessed a “rising tide lifts all boats” type result of their efforts.

Upon further inquiry, she shared that all the space operators had an unwritten understanding. If someone wasn’t a great fit for their space, they’d be sure to offer a few other recommendations. Being partnered through an alliance such as this, and highlighting all their different offerings and locations helped drive overall demand for coworking. They created and contributed to a sales referral ecosystem.

This isn’t rocket science, folks. I hate to break it to you but hotels, event planners, residential property managers, and similar industries all typically have an industry association with local chapters. Networking with your “competition” is good for business when you realize they are your collaborators. Having a good contact at other spaces increases your ability to capture bookings that aren’t quite a fit for others in your area.

Apps and Communities

In Chicago, the app Deskpass has created a community of both space owners and coworking users. When a space is listed on the Deskpass platform, the owner is connected with other spaces around them. When they host coworking meetups, the events are usually at a new location and create a great excuse for users and owners alike to cowork and connect.

Nicole Vasquez, Chief Community Officer of Deskpass put it best: “Coworking is inherently about sharing, so as a coworking space owner, I found it natural to want to share my experiences with other owners, and learn from their experiences. Doing so allows for us to create better workplaces for our members and improve the coworking industry as a whole. I always seem to learn something new or find something unique at each space I visit, and it has greatly enhanced my own understanding of how to create memorable workspaces.”

Scarcity vs. Abundance

People typically have one mindset or the other and you can tell the two apart in an instant. It’s almost instinctual – something about the person you are speaking with. I’ve done my fair share of coworking events and have visited a lot of cities to see the latest coworking trends. Often, spaces are in a scarcity mindset, rather than one of abundance so they opt out of participating in a formal coworking organization, and thus because the organization lacks paid members it struggles to take off.

Besides KCCA, a few other regional/national groups stand out, such as Coworking Spain, European Coworking Assembly and the German Coworking Federation (GCF). Christian Cordes, Director at GCF, acknowledged the challenges in recruiting paid association members “…yes, most of the spaces would want to know how many [new] members they’d get for paying. What they needed to understand [was] that once they paid and joined it was then [that] they understood the benefits of being an [association] member. And those benefits have lead to helping grow their memberships.”

Pretty much, it’s a chicken and the egg situation. There’s evidence of the benefits of being a part of a formal organization, but that requires you to actively participate through volunteerism and/or dues.

To actively participate means shedding your scarcity mindset and embracing abundance – that there is more than enough out there for everyone. Christian acknowledged that while overall dues revenue is increasing, they also provide spaces with ways to volunteer their time if they are on a budget. Don’t let money be the excuse that stops you.

The 411

Basically, if you aren’t a part of your local or regional coworking network you need to be. It doesn’t have to be a formal, regional alliance. There are other apps and communities that offer opportunities to connect. If you don’t have anything like the above mentioned in your area then be the change you want to see; do something about it. Also, If that long list of coworking conferences isn’t fulfilling your professional needs or wants, redirect that money you’d otherwise spend. Perhaps toward local efforts might change the situation for the better? Save the cash on all the travel to conferences and put it towards hosting a local meetup, dinner or, unconference.

While hosting coworking owner meetups all over the world, it always surprised me how folks would commit if someone else did the planning. If you’re confident in your business and happy with where you are in life, then you have nothing to lose. That is, other than the opportunity to grow your business by collaborating rather than competing.

The post Abundance vs. Scarcity: Why Collaboration Always Beats Competition was first published on Coworking Insights.