YES! We Can: Adapt to the Near Future (as is tradition!) – part 1

We Can!


Embracing the “Why” of the new or renewed purpose may have revealed the gaps in “how”. What will adapting to a new Near Future look like? In part 1 of our two-part post, we’ll share our view on the continuous adaptation of the flexible workspace industry from 1992 (our own debut) to 2011, when we see the migration to an industry movement.

Over the course of our 19-year consultancy, we have witnessed how adaptation to new ways of working lead to fresh products, solutions and service offerings. Together, we’re just about to see how the latest, forced adaptation gives us reason to believe in the incredible opportunities arising from the pandemic. Some of this will come a bit full-circle, but let’s start with some background.

A little history

Our experience in the industry starts back in 1992, pre-Internet and initial recovery from the 1989 economic meltdown from the Savings & Loan debacle. The model for our industry introduction was a 24,000 s.f. Class A office in the CBD of Chicago. In this size space, the standard was 85-90 private offices, 3 meeting rooms and 6 people on staff. There was incredible event space which was unique to this location – and never really marketed. In addition, variable services were expected to deliver at least 30% of overall revenue to the business. Think of providing services for faxing, long-distance call charges, telephone answering, administrative assistance and you understand how it could be done.

Fast-forward to 1999, seven short years, and all these revenue streams nearly evaporated.

In its place came Internet fees, with a desk phone still required but a decline in the long-distance rate. Administrative support? The industry adapted by offering technical support to assist clients in all areas of this surge to the digital age. Some of you may remember Y2K.

The Internet Café and Coworking

Prior to the original iPhone release in June of 2007, Starbucks was providing opportunities for freelancers and students to carry work into a “Third Place” – not home and not office – but a community all its own. The next wave of transition from executive suite / serviced office / office business center was coworking. The first, true, permanent coworking space in the US beyond what Brad Neuberg created in 2005 was The Hat Factory. Established by Brad with Chris Messina and Tara Hunt in 2006 in San Francisco. Amenities include free internet, modest furnishings, an open workspace at tables, a bit of programming (yoga and shared lunches) and a community of like-minded individuals. The next pivot was born.

The Movement

As the coworking concept continued to expand to other US markets, the passion of representing the model as a community and a movement, rather than a workspace, took hold. Executive Suites and Office Business Centers were passe and way too formal for the new generation of workspace. Indy Hall came to the opposite coast, in Philadelphia in 2007, established first as a community of users prior to having official workspace. This became the go-to philosophy for building a successful coworking enterprise for years. 2008 marks the start of Green Desk, precursor to the 2010 debut of WeWork – both started by Miguel McKelvey and Adam Neumann. (Green Desk was then sold, enabling them to start WeWork) In 2011, the first official GCUC (Global Coworking UnConference) was hosted in Austin. The space designs by this time are focused on a majority of open-plan, limited office, if any, and a loyal, very transient daytime population. During this phase, many operators are smaller (less than 6,000 s.f.) with limited staff and occasionally managed by members. Owners view their business as part of a bigger movement, with revenues being less a priority than building community. Adaptation to the adaptation.

In many ways, the Great Recession in 2008 provided the fuel for expansion, due to necessity, of coworking. The initial migration to “work anywhere” was a mantra to Millennials in the workforce. Their comfort with remote work and working in teams was a natural fit to the open plan and transience of coworking. As a result, what was considered a fad becomes a trend, as we’ll outline in part 2.

Stay safe and Stay Well 

For Landlords and Developers thinking about flexible workspace in your profile, view our process here.

In part 2, we’ll explore how The Fad becomes a Trend and The Next Normal.

YES! We Can: Redefine our Purpose, our “Why”

We Can


The last post highlighted the grieving process and the setting of routine to nudge ourselves back to life. We acknowledged our own sense of loss of our purpose This, too, is temporary if we commit to the steps to refocus and redefine our “Why?”

This may have taken an entirely new direction for you. Are you juggling the role of teacher, referee, nurse, chef, cleaning crew AND employee right now? Are you negotiating new boundaries under new conditions with your spouse/significant other?

No wonder you’re exhausted! Who has any time to consider “why”?!

And, you are not alone.

If there is any chance at all of viewing this as an opportunity to carve out even a couple of 20-minute chunks each day to think in 4 areas: Passion; Talents; Strengths; Legacy.

Passion – Talents – Strengths – Legacy

These concepts are certainly not new but perhaps the process is a variation of what you’ve read previously. To use a set of tools we’ve found effective, check out Michelle McQuaid’s post on VIA Strengths.

During this particular season under COVID-19, we suggest starting with what sparks your passion. Although it may be tough to keep a positive outlook right now, reflect on what gives you joy and what work you would do without consideration of any pay: WHAT WOULD YOU HAPPILY DO FOR FREE. What has you really jump out of bed in the morning or work late into the night?

Talents – the “what” area. What are your top 5 talents: Analytical, Persuasive, Visionary, Communicator, Efficient, Competitive, Learner, Strategic, Deliberate, Action-oriented. So much of our work with our clients includes an initial step of Goal Setting and Establishing Expectations. You can find our overall process here.

Strengths – how do you express these talents? Through humor, humility, perseverance, bravery, honesty, teamwork, gratitude, hope, curiosity. There are certainly more ways to express your talents, these are just a few.

Legacy. For many, thinking about the legacy portion of this work can actually be the “aha moment”. What do you wish to leave behind and be remembered as having accomplished? Another way to ask the question: “What would you say to your younger self as being an important lesson of your life so far?”

You may actually start with the end in mind – think of your legacy and then how your talents, strengths and passion deliver on it.

We are currently running an endurance challenge. I think we’re truly up to it. Nietzsche once said, ‘He who has a why can endure any how.’