Investigation: what your members want from your coworking space

Investigation: what your members want from your coworking space

This is a real trend which is likely to last: more and more workers, especially young graduates, are adopting freelancer status to work independently. A study from 2013 even announced that freelancers will represent more than 40% of the workforce by 2020. This will be enough to fill the many coworking spaces that open around the world! If they choose shared workspaces, it is because they represent many benefits for them. Do you really know what your members are looking for in a coworking space?

It is no secret that more and more workers are choosing to leave their jobs to become independent. A study conducted by the OECD states that at least 40% of the workforce will be freelancers by 2020 in many countries. This trend is changing the economy, but also the way we work.

For several weeks, I interviewed a hundred coworkers to learn more about their motivations to join a coworking space. This investigation was useful because I learn:

  • Predominant criteria in choosing a coworking space
  • Obstacles that, on the contrary, encourage to leave a coworking space
  • Members’ main queries for a more efficient coworking space

The results of this investigation should help you to know how to improve your coworking space in order to help your members to optimize their work, but also to recruit and federate your community! Let’s go!

What your members want

When they choose to work independently, your (future?) members want to leave a totally obsolete working environment, in contradiction with this modern and connected life. The new generation, these young talented graduates from the 90s and 2000s, no longer want to work in an office from 9am to 5pm. Above all, they want to be happy in their work. Fully aware that they will spend most of their existence working, they seek well-being in their daily lives. When they make the choice to join a coworking space, it is for:

  • Feel happier and healthier. Indeed, when they work at home they often feel alone in front of their computer. By joining a coworking space, where reigns the joy of life, they feel happier. But that does not happen magically. For your members to be happy, it is necessary to organize events where they can meet other than for work. Themed evening for example. Or sporty afternoons. From what I have seen, the coworking spaces where the members were most happy were those where yoga sessions were offered. The idea is really to create a cohesion between members and to avoid stress by physical or creative activities.
  • Be more efficient and focused. This may sound logical but when they don’t work at home but in a coworking space, they tend to be more efficient and focused. No television, no game console, it’s immediately more motivating to work. However, be sure to provide closed and individual desks for your members who seek the absolute calm to fulfill certain tasks. Indeed, a coworking space remains an open space which can sometimes become noisy. Your members must always be able to isolate themselves.
  • Meet new people. This is one of the keys to the success of self-employment. It is by making new contacts that members of your coworking space will find new business opportunities. Networking is an important part of the life of freelancers. This is the basis of their success. By integrating a dynamic coworking space with good cohesion and the right tools for exchanging business opportunities, self-employed people have the opportunity to fill their address book. The main advantage of a coworking space is that it can be a perpetual networking space. Make every effort to allow your members to flourish professionally in your coworking space (eg, organize recurring events, meetups, conferences, set up a tool to create business synergies …)
  • Progress and learn. Many coworking spaces offer meetups, trainings or conferences for their members (or their future members). Not all do, but all should do so because it is an effective way to retain and recruit new members. Independent workers, because of their status, must be as versatile as possible and for this they must constantly learn and progress in their chosen field. Training is expensive and offering training at preferential rates in your coworking space will have a great benefit for your members. And for you.


What are the obstacles for your members

Although most respondents were satisfied with their coworking space, some had some thought about their future as members of their coworking space and were considering joining the competition. Here why:

  • High prices can be problematic for some self-employed people who don’t have a lot of income and can’t afford a subscription in your coworking space. Some opt for day packages but sometimes have to deal with the lack of space in their coworking space… Then, they quit your coworking space to join the competition. The best thing to do is to attract and retain your (future) members with flexible offers and benefits that they wouldn’t find elsewhere. Think about the fact that many self-employed people are looking to establish business relationships. They will not pay 300 € per months to be in a coworking space without emulation. Always seek to federate your community with exclusive activities and benefits.
  • Paradoxically, the other members! Like everywhere, there are people that can keep you from working in a coworking space. I had written an article for freelancers that summarized the various disturbing personalities that one could find in a coworking space – and how to avoid them. The simplest solution is to allow your members to be able to isolate themselves in enclosed spaces in order to be able to work. Other coworking spaces are more creative and provide headphones and playlists with background music so that their members can concentrate.
  • Opening time. Most self-employed adopt this status because they no longer want to have fixed schedule. They want the freedom to work when they want, when they are most effective. Except that … many coworking spaces are open only from 9am to 5pm. Still in 2017. Whereas in practice, many work with more staggered schedules (to enjoy the morning sleep!). I met a lot of self-employed people who liked to work at the end of the day, until 11pm … and wake up the next day at
    11am! Now you know, having a coworking space open only until 5pm is restrictive.

Their criteria to choose a coworking space

To finish, here are the 7 most used criteria by the people I interviewed to choose their coworking space. You will see that these are criteria that may seem common but which nevertheless remain very important:

  • The visits. Some freelancers like to visit a coworking space, spend the day there – for free – in order to get an idea of the environment in which they are going to have to work.
  • The equipment. This is the most important criterion for many of the independent workers. It is necessary to have equipment with advanced technology, especially when proposing a subscription at high prices. Having a kitchen, a high-performance wifi connection, sofas to relax and offices is the minimum. If you have the budget, always propose better stuff.
  • The tenants. As I said earlier, most freelancers come looking for business opportunities in a coworking space. For that, they will study your coworking space to find if you have many members and if your community is not too targeted. Some coworking space are specialized and will have no interest for potential members.
  • The prices. The question that haunts your (future) members day and night. The idea is to propose a price adapted to the markets by taking a look at the competition, but which will also adapt according to the services that you propose. The must is to offer options in addition to subscriptions that your members will can subscribe to when they want to.
  • Flexibility. As I said earlier, independent workers are choosing this status to have greater freedom in their work. Some like to work early, others late, but all want to have access to your coworking space when they want to. The opening hours are important in their choice.
  • Events. A coworking space must be dynamic to be effective. To recruit members and federate your community you must organize events. They can take several forms: meetup, conferences, training, networking evening… There are many possibilities.
  • Competitive advantages. Hype since 2010, coworking spaces are multiplying all over the world … To differentiate and attract new members, they are increasingly offering advantages that members can’t find elsewhere. If you don’t really have a budget for a movie theater, partner with the local cinema to offer discounts, or a laundromat in your coworking space. The goal is to make a difference.


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