Back in 2015 I made my first public ‘call’ on what I was seeing from within the coworking sector.
With "shots fired" already, keep an eye on m&a in the #coworking / flexible workspace sector in 2017.
— Hector Kolonas (@inztinkt) November 10, 2015
Whilst not a startling revelation to those in the know, 2017 brought us a tonne of big news about coworking companies raising huge troves of cash, acquiring software vendors, and making investments in (or acquiring) other spaces.
Ever since the included ecosystem spanned just 5 territories (now supporting communities in 50+ countries) I’ve been continuously asked about what other trends and predications I could make on, in and around the sector.
And so I’ve put together a list of my next ‘Big Bets’ for the coworking and adjacent sectors
Let me know in the comments below if you agree, or critically disagree, with any of them. If you’d like to take a deeper dive into any of them, or would like these to be presented at your event (with some anything-but-boring slides) get in touch.
Please note that I’ve not mentioned how the number of communities sharing buying-power has already surpassed the size of the worlds’ largest chains by 72% and what that means for vendors and operators moving forward, as that falls into included.co territory.
#1. Coworking & Residential Developments.
New residential properties, and those being refurbished, have been investing heavily into tenant amenities.
I expect to see some interesting management contracts for branded ‘coworking’ hubs within these residential spaces, offering a managed telecommuting option that beats commuting.
Much like the hospitality/hotel space, this is a huge growth area worth exploring.
#2. Sharing of Retail Space, at scale.
The same way coworking made office space, peer-support and entrepreneurial empowerment more accessible to desk-based businesses; expect to see more global plays in the ‘coworking for stores‘ sector as fresh brands, makers and inventors look for a larger and robust alternative to market stalls.
There are some great local examples of this, but the global market is ripe for innovation.
#3. Coworking & Coffee Shops/Banks.
This was one of my original bets, and have seen some movement from innovative coworking chains looking into how they can merge their presence from purely a ‘3rd space’ between work and home; to a combined workspace and lounge/meeting area.
I’ve extended this bet to cover banks (and other financial institutions like Coops and Credit Unions) , as they’re starting to look at leveraging their under-utilised locations as ‘community builders’.
#4. Belt-tightening and re-focussing.
My bet for 2017–2018 was that we’d see a ramp up in funding, and M&A activity. With coworking companies raising huge rounds of funding, acquiring software vendors, and making investments in (or acquiring) other spaces; the spending on ‘doing things ourselves‘ has also ramped up.
I’m predicting a ripple across the sector that will force even the flushest of spaces to explore more automation, and leveraging more existing/3rd party software as oppose to trying to do ‘everything’ in-house.
#5. Alliances will shift further into marketing and advocacy.
The number of coworking alliances have skyrocketed, bringing together both regional- and mission-aligned workspace operators of almost every kind, shape, size and location.
Whilst many of them are focussed on sharing best practices and insights; I’m seeing more shifts towards marketing of niche/independent coworking communities; as well as a call for more coordinated representation with local and regional policy makers.
#6. Increased compliance requirements.
As the sector matures and is better ‘understood’ by politicians and governing bodies, we can expect to see further compliance requirements from KYC and AML checks, all the way through to new requirements for security and privacy measures in certain regions.
Lessons should also be learned from examples of what can go wrong from the coworking-adjacent Virtual Offices (VO) sector, like when police in the UK raided numerous VO buildings in a fraud crackdown as part of Operation Broadway in 2015.