The keys to successful coworking spaces

A quick refresher on what coworking is: “the social gathering of a group of people, who are still working independently, but who share values and who are are interested in the synergy that can happen from working with talented people in the same space.”

As this article on the Coworking Blog reveals, profitability is a common coworking space challenge. The primary reason? Coworkers still find it more individually profitable to do business at the coffeehouse – it’s free with no commitments.

So are coworking spaces doomed? Hardly, but ill-designed ones are. Here are some tips to establish a space that’s consistently full of tenants, workers, buzz… and profitable.

1. Make it affordable, affordable, affordable
a. Get an enviable lease on the raw space. It’s impossible to be successful if you overpay.
b. Make sure some of the individual spaces offered are small, no larger than 25 s.f. Think of it this way – people’s entire workspace in the coffeehouse is often just their lap – they don’t need 100 s.f.

2. Catalyze profitable business relationships and opportunities for members
a. On the opposite end of keeping costs low, is helping businesses make more money. That means identifying and building relationships with larger companies that need the kinds of services and products the member businesses provide.
b. Establish a business social network to enable the above on a 24/7 basis. It’s surprising how much this is underdeveloped given the tech-base of the coworking businesses – maybe it’s a perfectionist thing. Just use a simple, effective tool like CollectiveX.

Of course, this assumes all the fundamental features that a coworking site needs: High-speed wi-fi; 24-hour access; conference room; location in a desirable neighborhood; network printer/copier/fax; access to fresh food/drink; a focus on creative, entrepreneurial members…