By Jonah Bleckner - 14th May, 2018
While the network of GCUC conferences is continuing to expand to new continents – an upcoming conference in Mexico City was announced – GCUC USA hosted its second consecutive conference in New York City. At its 2016 conference in Los Angeles, PLASTARC presented our perspective on multisensory design trends in coworking environments.
This year’s conference drew a wide range of attendees from coworking, finance, real estate and architecture professions. Our team identified three salient themes across the three days of conversations:
Coworking at the Center of Public Health: As coworking membership grows rapidly around the world, operators increasingly have the power to impact the overall health of members. Liz Elam, the Founder of GCUC, announced that this year’s conference would officially emphasize health and wellness. Beyond the usual suspects of technology solution sponsors, such as essensys and Davinci, we also saw a number of furniture solutions providers marketing products such as flexible desks. Drawing from a various research studies, Karen Quinntana of WELL Building Institute highlighted how the decisions that coworking operators make in selecting a space, engineering it, designing it, and programming it matter from an occupant perspective.
Financing the Future of Workplace Experiences: Investing in a healthy workplace is not cheap, but innovative strategies can be employed to finance coworking, from both the operator and member perspectives. A panel entitled “Lovenotes to your Landlords and REITs” discussed how operators can leverage landlord interest in coworking to get capital contributions in the form of financial vehicles like joint venture partnerships. In a data-centric presentation, Carsten Foersch of DeskMag reported his findings about the growth and profitability of coworking from his annual survey. Some interesting findings include 42% of spaces globally are currently profitable and 38% of operators surveyed are planning to open a new location. On the membership side, we spoke with the startup Salaryo, which bills itself as the bank of coworking. In return for a monthly fee, Salaryo will cover the deposit and first three months of rent, lowering the barrier of entry to coworking membership and reducing risks that face coworking providers.
Keeping Up with Workforce & Workplace Change: The final theme was change. In a presentation called “The Gamers Grew Up: Adapting to the New Media Age,” Trisha Williams and Joseph Unger, co-founders of the game development company Pigeon Hole Productions, spoke about the modern workplace needs of the digital native. It was refreshing to hear the conversation about millenials reframed in terms of digital literacy and the virtual worlds that they have grown up within.
Overall, it was clear that the coworking industry believes in its potential and its responsibility to continue to positively impact our communities, organizations, and selves. We are looking forward to continuing to participate in this global conversation at GCUC UK, where PLASTARC will be moderating a panel about the intersection of corporate real estate and coworking. More details to come!