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The Big Merge: Coworking & Corporate Real Estate

Participants of the TechFestival in Copenhagen

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Okay, so now what?

This shift is definitely an exciting prospect.

There’s a problem though, which was the bit that left a couple of the Coworking and Coliving Summit attendees in a flustered state. The problem is that the best people to help implement and incorporate coworking methodologies into traditional workspaces and offices are the experienced coworking leaders themselves. Coworking leaders who are often busy, often not consulted, and often not interested in educating their more corporate counterparts, especially for free.

But that’s where the opportunity lies.

While recapping the summit one morning, my co-host, Brittnee, and I began using the term ‘shepherds’ to describe the people who help transition the industry into this more flexible, service-oriented model. We liked the term because it carries with it a lot of cross-cultural tropes: exploration, leadership, protection, trust, safety, and greener pastures.

But in the context of this conversation, and for the people who might be reading this from both sides of the coworking/real-estate world, it feels a bit off. So I’ll just stick with the term consultant.

We need more of these consultants. No, not coworking consultants that sell advice to small-to-medium-sized coworking spaces. We have plenty of those. What we need are consultants that work with big real estate to bridge the gap between traditional and outdated real estate marketing and management methods to move the other 98% of commercial space toward better efficiency, better service, and better user experience. Not only because of the opportunity for better financials, but because space users deserve that better experience. Space users deserve more flexible, beautiful, and well-serviced work environments.

In short, we need to focus creating workspace experiences and services and new business models that take advantage of the $12.6 trillion figure, not the $5-10 billion one. Yes, this transition is going mean experimentation, patience, long hours, and probably a lot of handholding. It’s going to be hard work.  

But one thing this work doesn’t need to be, if you’re willing to be one of these consultants, is free. Whereas the traditional coworking space consultant struggles to find their next paycheck, this new consultant will find the money is there if they reframe the scope of the industry and if they commit to delivering real value. They will get paid, so long as they deliver. Their work will form the basis for the real future of workspace, which may not be called ‘coworking,’ but will still be a profound shift in the way that spaces are built, managed, and utilized. And shaping the #futureofwork is something I think we can all get behind.

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About the author:

Ryan Chatterton founded Coworking Insights and works as a Marketing Director for Habu. Formerly with Impact Hub and Parisoma, Ryan now has over 4 years of combined experience in a variety of roles in the coworking industry, including marketing, events, operations, sales, software, and partnerships. Connect with Ryan via LinkedIn or email. The TechFestival was co-hosted by Brittnee Bond.

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