As coworking spaces become more popular across the globe, they will continue to shape the ways in which people work, innovate and create. In response, coworking environments will need to anticipate future space needs and technology changes.
Here are a few core technology shifts to anticipate in the coworking industry — and how workspace designers can accommodate those innovations.
Anticipating Changes on the Horizon
There are many reasons why coworking spaces have grown in popularity, but at the core of their success is a desire to make work more fulfilling.
As real estate investor, author and entrepreneur Erez Cohen explains: “Many individuals are now deeply focused on purpose and meaning, even more than on material goods. They want to go to work to make an impact and receive fulfillment from the mission they pursue.”
Coworking spaces also provide opportunities to enjoy the company of others in a low-stress environment. In interviews conducted by Guardian reporter Tim Dunlop, many coworking space users agreed that they enjoyed the interactive and social elements provided by coworking spaces.
Mindspace.me real estate VP Itay Banayan adds that when members of a coworking space are provided with welcoming, on-trend interiors, inspiring lectures and creative inspiration, it opens up a whole new world of creative possibility. And as coworking becomes the preferred method of work among contractors, entrepreneurs and freelancers, such spaces will need to place an even greater emphasis on collaborative technology.
It’s not just freelancers and solo entrepreneurs in these spaces, however. An increasing number of large companies are realizing the benefits of coworking, says Emergent research partner Steve King, and they’re moving their employees into them.
Customers at that size could change the nature of commercial real estate. They could drive demand for buildings that can support the needs of coworking environments, and in particular, spaces that can accomodate innovative, technology-driven companies at scale.
The growth of coworking spaces will undoubtedly be coupled with technological innovation in the coming decades, but how?
For starters, brand specialist and creative consultant Juliet Childers predicts that coworking spaces will become a place to test out and rent new technologies. In the same way that a person might have rented time on a desktop computer in the past, time spent with reality headsets could become a new commodity in the coworking spaces of the future.
Moreover, the forms of technology that a coworking space provides will determine which types of people are drawn to the space.
To attract entrepreneurs in retail, healthcare and product development, for example, 3D printers are a great addition to a space. In fact, copywriter Bianca-Marieta Murg points to six large coworking spaces in the US that have helped bring 3D printing technology to a wider user base. Many coworking spaces that have 3D printing machines also have tools for laser cutting and pressure cutting to support entrepreneurial prototyping needs.
In the same way that prototyping tools might attract entrepreneurs, artificial intelligence tools and connected devices can help attract engineers to a coworking space. Brooklyn coworking space The Yard, for example, specifically caters to makers in emerging technologies. This space also provides its members with access to prototyping shops, digital manufacturing tools and industry networking events.
Artificial Intelligence is also taking hold in helping coworkers become more efficient. Remus Serban at HubGets explains that certain software solutions enable team members to hold one another accountable and track project process. Plus, AI-powered productivity boosters help keep people on task for daily work.
Unlike 3D printers, such software doesn’t require any physical tools to be provided. However, it’s important to understand how members of a coworking space might be utilizing technology in your space for long sprints of productivity over a day, week or month. Understanding how AI can can enhance team skills, quicken a process or remove unnecessary tasks can make a coworking space more efficient, says Work & Co.
Inspire Innovative Collaboration
Adding cutting-edge technology to coworking spaces is clearly important, but the technology itself isn’t enough. As Yardi’s Roxette Miranda points out, community is the most important aspect of modern coworking spaces.
Optimizing coworking environments for collaboration helps break down barriers to access and ensures that new tools are being used to their full potential. Plus, Indonesia-based coworking space EV Hive points out that collaborative technology spaces allow room for learning and skill exchanges that wouldn’t otherwise be possible.
A hackathon is one type of collaborative event that a coworking space could cater to. Hackathons are often used to spur innovation and tackle local social and environmental challenges, communications strategist Osidele Bamidele points out. Large corporations are often looking for spaces that will accommodate the fast-paced, high-density work that often occurs during hackathons. Being able to cater to these events would draw talent, innovation and business to a coworking space.
Similarly, pitch challenges and startup incubator events often turn to coworking spaces as hosts.
Another idea for fostering more innovation in a coworking space is to unite with other like-minded office spaces in your region. Lisa Murgatroyd at Tech Nation explains that by offering mentorship and desk space across multiple coworking spaces, entrepreneurs are provided with more opportunities to collaborate and create.
Achieving successful cross-collaboration requires the proper physical seating and working arrangements, however. Cloud-based office security company Kisi points to one office in Bucharest that addresses this challenge with a variety of nooks for sitting and collaborating. These nooks are built into the architecture of the space, so they’re always available for extra seating when new people enter the environment — or when regulars simply need a change of pace.
Another way to approach collaborative design is to think of it as cyclical, according to Global Workspace Association. Teams and individuals likely won’t stay permanently, so creating huddle spaces that accommodate multiple types of technologies across different industries are best.
Coworking Management Tools
As coworking options become more plentiful and diverse, new ways of booking and managing these spaces are set to arise.
For example, writer Mara Savina Falstein points to ShareDesk as a core technology that’s helping improving the coworking experience for everyone. ShareDesk enables individuals, teams and companies to rent out meeting rooms and office spaces at any given time.
From a real estate perspective, ShareDesk helps coworking spaces maximize space use and keep desks and meeting rooms filled. As explained on the ShareDesk website, full-service coworking spaces and business centers are invited to list their space for free and find new prospects.
Similarly, DeskPass is a company that makes it easy for companies and individual workers to find affordable desks in coworking spaces on a last-minute notice. DeskPass currently exists in major cities like LA, Austin, Denver and San Francisco.
And for coworking space owners who want to focus on community building, Habu is a popular tool that makes it easy to manage memberships, booking and billing.
Perhaps the biggest benefit of these software tools is the increased accessibility to data on coworking that it provides. Demographics about a person and a company, the type of technology they’re using and how long they’re using it for — these are all important metrics that can help guide the future of coworking spaces and what’s available.
Images by: Matthew Henry, Matthew Henry, Nicole De Khors