Our new normal, to my community

Yes, this is our new normal. And yet, to my community, now is an extraordinary time to pause and think of some creative solutions.

Think of ways to strengthen your community while acknowledging our new reality with sensitivity. These are anxious times and promoting “free coworking” can be tone deaf promotion during this time of social distancing and self-quarantine.

It may be time next week to break up the isolation and cabin fever I expect we’ll feel. (if we aren’t there already!)

Speed virtual networking: Can you create small and brief introductory calls between members? A group of 3-5 on a 20-minute call to connect and learn more about one another. This reminds us that we are not alone.

The best thing about the new normal: What has been revealed about us, our families, our friends and the world? This allows us to step outside the anxiety and potentially create new habits and traditions.

Member storytelling via webinar: Shift conversations to how members of your community overcame previous obstacles and challenges. This reminds us all that we are resilient and strong.

The world will remember 2020 as a time when we were confronted to see things in a new way. May this shift in our perspective make way for creative solutions benefiting us all.

2020 In Focus: The Growth of Coworking and Amenity Space

In a recent article in Commercial Property Executive, journalist Jackson Chen breaks down the six predictions by JLL’s Senior Director for Office Research Scott Homa for how the coworking world will develop in 2020.

We witnessed in 2019 the large expansion of large landlords creating their take on coworking. These include Tishman Speyer, which is creating Studio, as well as Boston Properties with Flex by BXP, and many more. “Other companies are looking to reach landlords by offering a management agreement that’s more akin to retail or hotel setups” as sited in the article.

Aside from what is featured in this article, Hines has developed their own version, Hines Squared, with the view of creating amenity floors in recent developments and is partnering with Industrious to manage these floors with a level of hospitality that can only be delivered by a professional and seasoned operator.

Further, Silverstein Properties just recently inked a partnership with CBRE’s Hana product under a management agreement scenario or revenue share model.

We look forward to experiencing the many creative ways that landlords and developers are embracing this model and expressing it as uniquely their own.

5, 4, 3, 2, 1…. YES! We’ve Launched!

Exceptional. The team that came together to reposition our brand was simply that.

As we launch the new logo and website we have several contributors to acknowledge: Our friends at Smart Search Media who developed the site and SEO, Josh Campbell, designer extraordinaire who created our logo and visual theme, Erica Jellerson of The Eason Collective managing how we appear on social media. Our Communications professional, Lindley White, instilled our messaging with power and Maralyn Bellin has been the key to this entire transformation.

The inimitable partners of Nancy Brown, Danielle Galmore and Lori Hamilton contribute in ways that will take up too many words in this brief post. As I have said many times, “More brains are better”. My gratitude to each of you is boundless.

My list of thanks would be sorely lacking if I didn’t give an enormous shout out to my big family (go Team Spreen/Robinson/Iveson) and the support of many friends who questioned, challenged and encouraged the product you view today.

Now, we’ve got work to do!

A Funny Thing Happened on the way to Coworking (v. 3)

 

When developing coworking spaces in partnership with our clients, we come across the most amazing (and frequently refreshing) perspectives on how to market and operate coworking spaces.

To be sure, we love working with entrepreneurs – whether first timers or veterans. We ALWAYS learn something from each project we manage. Lifelong learning energizes us and keeps us in grounded in reality.

Still, this quick list features marketing strategies that caused us to internalize a “huh, that’s interesting”:

  • A new coworking space in the CBD of a major market with many competitors (traditional shared space and coworking alike) put no money into a marketing budget, believing a strong strategy was to have a college student stand in front of the building wearing a sandwich board, handing out flyers about the new space

 

  • New coworking space in another major market that relied solely on social media to drive traffic to and awareness of the space. Ownership was operating the space as a secondary business and was too busy to build a community from Meetups and outbound networking events. Expected “if we build it, they will come”

 

  • Established space that pivoted to featuring only non-members as speakers and panelists at lunch and learns and after-hours networking events

 

  • Spaces that reject all corporate users (corporate users is a growing population). Context is key but worth reconsidering

 

  • Constant use of shock and awe language (as in something “sucks” or equivalent) in marketing tools. Over time it becomes ineffective and narrows your target demographic options

We have worked with each of the above clients and have been successful at coaching a few into alternate directions. In our experience, clients that did not move from their marketing position above are no longer in operation.

The Power of Gratitude – 7 Reasons to be Thankful

We’ve just turned a  new year and a new decade. Two big milestones that cause use to reflect on the whole timeline – past, present, future.  As we launch into the new decade, let’s reflect on Gratitude and 7 reasons to be thankful.

Monday – start of the work week and ability to make an impact; working with colleagues that challenge you to work at a higher level; getting the kids off to school and the opportunity to learn something new; long talk with a friend (yes, could actually be on the phone rather than using that phone to text); typically when the US has a special holiday, making it a 3-day weekend.

Tuesday – “Productivity Day”, the most productive day, statistically of the work week; recycle pick up by your municipality; volunteering for your favorite cause today; spending time with a friend or loved one who needs extra care; helping your kids with their homework; being the one receiving the extra care from a friend or loved one.

Wednesday – time for a workout, whether at the gym, at home or simply outside; ability to get or stay healthy in mind, spirit AND body; weekly prayer meeting (no matter your faith); working on your hobby or side gig– your classic car, book club, knitting, woodworking, rebuilding your computer, writing that novel, building your app; recognition by others for your contributions.

But wait… there’s more!

Thursday – date night for everyone, even if it’s a night out with your friends; evening of a special performance you’ve booked weeks ago; getting the last major “to-do’s” accomplished at work so you can ease into your weekend on Friday; raising funds at an event supporting your favorite charity; Museum “Free Day” or reduced admission day; the long-sought contract got signed.

Friday – week accomplished TGIF!; lunch with a friend (vs at your desk); mentoring a colleague or being mentored by a colleague; Pizza & beer night; kid’s Field Trip day; going out to a comedy club; heading out of town for a long weekend; feet up, on the couch, doing NOTHING tonight.

Saturday – major personal errand day; cooking your favorite meal; going out to a movie, play or concert; getting outdoors and off the grid; remembering that fantastic baseball game you caught over the Summer; celebrating a birthday or anniversary today; cheering for your favorite college team; catching your kid’s game or performance.

Sunday – Fellowship day – over football, food, friends, faith (could also be Saturday, depending on your faith); storytelling with your family or friends of all the great memories that made you laugh so hard, you cried; celebrating the passing of seasons; reflecting on all that life brought this week and enthusiasm for what’s to come.

This is our quick list. What makes you Grateful?

A Funny Thing Happened – on the way to Coworking v.2

Well, we did indeed promise you truth-is-stranger-than-fiction stories of our experiences in the world of developing coworking spaces.

It’s a beautiful late-Spring day in a Midwestern town. We are traveling to meet with a prospective client who needs to reposition a 15-year old workspace to improve overall revenues and occupancy.

The town has developed from a remote and heavily rural community to a desirable bedroom community within 10 miles of a suburban hub of a larger metro area. New homes in the town now command upwards of $450K.

Based on our initial conversations, the onsite team has created a welcoming spirit and has been stable for 7 years. Currently, they generate approximately 35% of their revenue from additional services beyond space fees and technology. (for those not familiar, the average services revenue equals approximately 20% of overall business revenues) Our separate conversation with the onsite team confirms our impressions that they are competent, thoughtful and very service-oriented.

This is a productive work environment for everyone.

Location in their town is easily recognizable in a commercial/office area and is within 2 miles of trains to the metro downtown. A great option for prospective clients who need an office but only occasionally need to be downtown. Area amenities are increasing as the town develops. Specifically, a new health club and local restaurants have popped up within a quick drive of the building.

As the initial conversation outlines, the client owned the building but has sold it to the current landlord and they negotiated a very reasonable rental rate through the next 3 years. Their current occupancy is approximately 70%.

They’ve tried everything they can think of to advertise locally and maximize market awareness. Granted, their marketing materials could be updated, inclusive of their website. The owner has been very active in Chamber of Commerce networking and using local vendor/members for services to support the workspace.

The client is open to putting in some funds toward updating marketing materials tools as well as the appearance of the space, with a single exception. This exception is that updating the reception lobby and is simply non-negotiable.

As we drive into the parking lot, indeed, the lot is full of cars, the building is well maintained. Landscaping, decor, cleanliness all meet standards for a good, well-run property.

We enter the workspace lobby and determine EXACTLY why they client is having difficulty increasing revenues and occupancy. In addition to the 1950’s themed outdoorsman artwork throughout, we are greeted by a mounted equivalent of this

grizzly.standing

The client is an avid outdoorsman and this is a personal trophy that he insisted on displaying in the lobby. Talk about frightening small children and nearly all the female prospects to the space!

It took us 6 months of cajoling, reasoning, suggesting that finally convinced the client to relocate it off site on another property. The decor was updated at a reasonable cost and within 12 months (6 months post-trophy) the client achieved 87% occupancy and increased net profit by 18%.

Sometimes the client gets in their own way.

We could “bearly” contain our excitement at the outcome!

If you’d like to share a story, please reach out to us.

2016 – A Big Year for Coworking Podcasts for us (part 4)

Here is our third and final podcast about coworking space development with Brittanie Campbell-Turner of Constructrr.com 

This episode is an interview with Wendy Spreenberg who is great resource for her expertise in workspace as a service.

We discuss in this 3 part series, the most important things that I thought would be useful to the any one who is trying to start a co-working community.

In this last part of the series, Wendy and I talk about the making sure the business model is sustainable to ensure the business owner’s success.

Find the previous episodes of this Co-Working series at constructrr.com/11 and constructrr.com/12

A Funny Thing Happened on the way to Coworking (v.1)

Planting a Flag to post periodically what we encounter as interesting experiences, exchanges, topics, insights, etc. that create a little humor along the way during our journey within the Coworking sphere.

Our combined experience has taken us across Europe and North America working with start-ups and those looking to reposition properties of all types to a more collaborative model.

 

coworking words

If the walls could talk…

Posts may range from the fairly common (consulting client uses less than 70% of recommended best practices then blames vendor for poor outcome) to the truly bizarre (trophy grizzly bear in attack posture greeting visitors in reception).

What we can say is that, since the turn of the millennium, life in collaborative workspace has been a wild ride and we wouldn’t want it any other way.

This train is leaving the station so climb aboard!

Celebrating Arbor Day & workplace wellness

How does celebrating Arbor Day equate to workplace wellness?

Cultural Landscape Foundation Omstead Parks

Cultural Landscape Foundation
Omstead Parks

We believe that productive and healthy workspace shares these qualities:

  • comforts – creates options for multiple work postures, sitting, standing & lounging
  • stimulates – both mind and senses, using color, scents such as vanilla or citrus, white or pink noise
  • energizes – from the amount of natural light throughout the space to healthy food choices in the vending machine and kitchen/cafe
  • inspires – your best work no matter the work mode, from quiet/focus, to collaborative, to networking
  • evokes – a sense of belonging and eliminates feelings of work isolation and stress

All of these qualities can also be achieved by conducting some of your work outdoors, under a tree!

Let us explain.

Providing outdoor workspace, complete with strong wi-fi signals makes it a “no excuses” option. (ok, excluding inclement weather, earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, blistering heat, frozen tundra conditions, tsunamis if we must)

Let’s share more specifics. Stacia Pierce was recently published on the Huffington Post “10 Best Practices to Staying Healthy at Work”. The highlighted parentheses are ours but lets focus on  #7 “Take breaks and get out in the sun and fresh air. Make sure to get your daily dose of vitamin D by getting outdoors every day.(stimulates) Even on your busiest days, it’s important to take a few minutes to step away and regroup. (inspires) Invigorate yourself by going outside and taking a brisk walk around your office building.(energizes) Or calm yourself from a hectic day by simply sitting and meditating quietly for a few minutes surrounded by nature” (comforts)

Taking it outdoors will evoke the feeling of being connected to something bigger and reducing stress.

We agree with the Arbor Day Foundation that “Trees are Simply Amazing” so take action!

logo-arbor-day-foundation-color and PLANT A TREE  and remember the hammock!

 

 

InBIA, GCUC, WORKTECH15, WANY & more – what’s on the calendar?

So much is happening in the world of collaborative workspace across the US- check it out!

InBIA – already NEXT WEEK! April 17 – 20 in Orlando – details can be found here

Coworking? This is THE one to attend, opposite coast – GCUC in LA, May 3-6

WORKTECH15-New York is May 13 &14 – for those involved in the future of work!

WANY – Workspace Association of NY is an invitation-only opportunity and this year is themed “BC@50” -celebrating 50 years of the serviced office business center, the FIRST iteration of coworking space. It will be taking place June 10 in New York. Curious? Please reach out to ray@workspace-any.com

NeoCON- Chicago – June 13-15 – “Good Design Can Achieve a Lot” – here’s how – much more trending in creating Design that Works, in the City that Works!

Then Summer to enjoy, take a break, work your ideas and then let’s get back at it in August!