Are you exploring the market research process of launching a new coworking business in your local area?
We often hear the question:
How do I know if my local area is a good place to launch a coworking business? Is there a demand for coworking in my area?
In order to do some of the initial research in determining the answer to this question, here are three strategic guideposts to consider and some tactics to help you get started:
1. Identify the existing coworking businesses in your area
Of course, this is the most obvious. Find out the local players in the industry. Go to their website, read news articles, look on Yelp. Try to identify what their offerings are. What are their prices? What does their community of members encompass? e.g. are they mainly lawyers, graphic designers, tech startups, etc.
2. Identify the existing private office and meeting room rental locations.
Often these are executive suites, hotels, event businesses, and other coworking spaces, etc. Even though some of the listings you may find in your area are not direct competitors to you, it is an indicator if there is demand for offices, meeting rooms, and event rentals in your area. Research their pricing. It’s good to know these things so that you can price according to the market. It also helps you to know how equipped (or not equipped) these room for rent are with amenities, add-ons, etc. This will help you position your coworking value proposition compared to the existing market.
Meeting Room and Private Office Research Resources:
3. Identify the business, entrepreneur, startup, tech, etc communities in your area
It’s important to know about the scene that is there. Is there a local entrepreneur meetup? How about a tech startup event that happened recently? Where was it, how many people attended, etc? Who are the leader(s) of the local business community? The idea is that you want to understand the essence of the local scene. This allows you to make sure that you’re launching a business that is congruent with the local community. Doing desktop research is one way, but probably the most qualitative research you can do is actually attending events and ultimately, being a part of the local community. This makes it much more likely that your future space can be a local community hub, as it will be coming from someone that is connected to the main community hub, already.
To supplement the specific local market research it’s also important to understand macro trends. Perhaps your local city or town is similar in some ways to the global trends or unique in some other ways. Below are some resource links as well as an embedded slideshow library with a number of decks dedicated to statistics of the global coworking industry created by coworking research expert, Carsten Foertsch, founder of DeskMag.
It’s not too late to build your own coworking space. In fact, now is a better time than ever before. Before you buy a building or lease a space, though, it’s important to do your own research first. Below are some of the most popular pieces of the early stage strategy of considering whether or not to start your own coworking space.
If you’re starting a coworking space, here are 6 components to address as you are strategizing your business roadmap.
1. Coworking Space Financial Model
Everything begins with the finances. Even though coworking began with the focus on community, ultimately these days, in order to compete and succeed in this growing market it is absolutely necessary that your space is well planned and managed from a financial perspective.
What’s in a coworking space business plan? Business plan formats have been around for years, and for the most part, they are the same for coworking businesses as they are for other businesses. The reason they’re becoming more popular (and needed) these days is that it is now possible to get a small business loan (or general investment) to begin a coworking brand. In the early days, the industry was so new, you had to self-fund it personally, so it wasn’t as necessary to “prove” the plan to anyone. A coworking business plan is essential if you’re looking to share your concept with a potential investor. Chances are they are not going to be focused on the passion, but are focused on the efficacy of the plan.
In the early days, this meant simply finding a space that was open and then putting some furniture in it. Painting the walls, putting up some signs, etc. But now that financial models are tied to a plethora of private offices, it is necessary to ensure that your space has sufficient space allocation for high dollar private offices. This requires thoughtful buildout and construction plans. If you are not an architect, you will need to engage one. Fair warning- most architects do not have experience building coworking spaces, so you will need to make sure to stay actively involved in its design and planning.
The business model is driven by membership types (people) and resource types (space). For example, a member that is interested in hotdesking will be in an open space and will generate X amount per month. This user generally stays in the membership for Y amount of time. Building a reliable business model around hot desk users, though, is no longer financially feasible. Now that there is a huge uptick in corporate coworking memberships, the increase in private offices and team rooms in coworking spaces have skyrocketed. This is a fortunate thing for coworking space entrepreneurs as this allows the financial model to be a reliable source of consistent revenue. If you have the financial model solidified with consistent office rental, then the transient nature of freelancers and independent entrepreneurs will not destabilize your financial model.
Often people are looking for a quick calculation of projected revenues and expenses. For this you can hire a proper coworking consultant or you can also find quick and easy ways to calculate it yourself.
If you build it, they will come….right? Well….it’s not so easy. Especially since financial models are based upon a lot of private office rentals. It’s necessary to focus on smart outbound marketing to the right type of user to fill up your coworking space. In addition to attracting new interest and memberships to your coworking space it’s also important to actively engage your existing membership, as often creating happy members can be your best marketing technique! How can you improve engagement in your coworking community with online tools?
Coworking began as a framework for freelancers and startups to gain access to a productive work environment. Fast forward ten years…
Corporate firms look to embrace the coworking ethos in order to revitalize company culture and employee experience.
Introducing Corporate Coworking – a framework for the ‘great transition.’
As a coworking workplace strategy firm, we at OpenWork Agency focus on helping organizations transition into the future of work. Moving from ‘old ways of working’ to ‘new ways of working’ is a journey, not a simple 1-2-3 process. Our transition services help firms assess the working styles of current employees, as well as the workspace options available to them- both on campus and off campus. With an eye to maximizing both workspace utilization as well as employee engagement and productivity, our transition program is comprehensive, creative, and data-driven. Our goal is to help client employees find the right workspaces for them and their teams, and to empower them to do their best work.
I. KICK-OFF WORKSHOP – Corporate Coworking Strategy
This is a one day workshop that takes clients through industry data around coworking and the shared workspace industry, underscoring the high levels of employee engagement and productivity reported in these types of work environments. Situated in a coworking space near a client’s location, the goal of the workshop is to bring the right mix of people together to explore ‘new ways of working’ together. This includes personnel from facilities management, human resources management, a few senior leaders with budgetary authority, as well as a few young (Millennial) employees.
II. WORK STYLE NAVIGATOR – Employee Coworking
As a follow up to the workshop, we administer our proprietary WSN survey, which helps employees clarify which ‘type’ of worker they are and which types of spaces are most appropriate for their style of work. This data allows firms to sharpen their workplace strategy and begin the road to individualization of work styles.
III. STRATEGY ROADMAP – HR Strategy embraces Corporate Coworking
Based on results from the WSN survey, as well as feedback from the workshop, we put together a strategy roadmap that outlines a few viable workplace strategy scenarios that get clients to ‘new ways of working.’ Each firm is different, and there are no off-the-shelf solutions. We provide unique and company-specific recommendations that take into account company culture, history, industry, and work styles.
IV. SPACES – Send Employees to Coworking Spaces or Build Coworking Space On Company Campus
For firms ready to make the jump, we assist in both the placement of employees into appropriate off-campus coworking spaces and in the development of on-campus coworking environments.
The OpenWork Agency is a boutique workplace strategy consultancy with roots in the coworking industry. We help companies create more flexible and social work environments so they can better attract and retain top talent and empower them to collaborate and innovate more effectively. We have over thirty-five years of combined coworking operating experience in our team, and have backgrounds in corporate real estate, enterprise hardware sales, corporate culture consulting, and marketing prior to our involvement in the coworking industry. Our experience ranges across the value chain of the industry, and we offer a suite of services that addresses key changes occurring both in the corporate real estate sector as well as inside organizations as they adapt to the changing world of work.
We just published a new landing page, Coworking Operator Services, which outlines some of the components to consider in choosing the right coworking operator.
We elaborate a bit on the components below:
Coworking Space Allocation
Coworking Target Market
As coworking industry has evolved, so has the necesseity for successful coworking operators to evolve their offering to meet and exceed market (and investor) expectations.
Asset Owner JV with Coworking Operator
It’s becoming increasingly popular for asset owners in the real estate industry to facilitate win/win joint venture arrangements with coworking operators to help ‘activate’ their space as well as share in the revenue. Often asset owners cover the front-end capital investments and the coworking operators provide the management, brand, and the experience.
We often hear from many people in conversations that ask us, “how do I get in on the success of the coworking movement?” Every week we see new headlines in the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, and local papers around the world that detail the latest expansion efforts of XYZ coworking space. The romanticism of coworking has reached new heights. No longer is it just about community but it’s now increasingly about making a buck (or $22billion). WeWork has certainly caused a stir and kudos to them for all the great work they’re doing promoting the evolution of the workplace.
So that brings me to how you can invest in coworking.
There are no publicly traded coworking brands. WeWork reportedly will soon IPO, but the jury is still out when that may be. Certainly, if you have an opportunity to participate in a future coworking brand IPO, get on it. The coworking industry is paced to continue to grow, in paramount amounts. That being said, in the meantime, you can best invest in coworking by either:
Investing in a local coworking brand
This may be the easiest way to support the coworking movement from a financial perspective. Find a local coworking operator that is successful in your area and sit down with their owners and chat about long-term goals. Perhaps your investment capital can help them grow and scale.
Investing in a coworking chain
Besides WeWork there are about 100 coworking chains that have aspirations of being “the next WeWork” or being in a category all to themselves. We’re seeing a lot of specialization in the coworking industry, so investing in a coworking chain that has a certain differentiator is probably the smartest move. They say that WeWork will begin acquiring competitive brands when they IPO, so a WeWork IPO may be your short-term exit strategy.
No longer are real estate investors simply doing business as they did in the past. With disruption and innovation happening at alarming (and opportunistic) rates, now is the time to make decision for the future.
Asset owners are often trying to optimize the future strategy of their real estate portfolio.
Many real estate investors are transitioning a percentage of their portfolio to leverage the success of the coworking industry. Statistics are released quite frequently that suggest that coworking spaces and the shared office model will be utilized at high levels in the future of commercial real estate. Long gone are the days of traditional office leases. Enterprise clients are requesting flexible lease terms and ready-to-go offices for their employees.
The trend is still emerging, yet innovative players in the industry are quickly experimenting with ‘activating their lobbies.’ Why has the coworking trend reached the hotel world?
Coworking can help create a fully integrated ecosystem within a building, whether it is a hotel, residence, or office building. It appeals to guests as well as the public at large. Need consulting for a Hotel Coworking project?
Hotel Coworking Resources:
Smart business hotels where work meets play – CNNFeatured Hotel Coworking Brands: - Volkshotel, Amsterdam - Zoku, Amsterdam - Hotel Zetta, San Francisco - Ace Hotel London Shoreditch - Ovolo Southside, Aberdeen, Hong Kong - Yotel, New York City - The Epiphany, Palo Alto, California - Mama Shelter, Rio de Janeiro - M Beta, Charlotte, North Carolina - COQ, Paris
6 reasons coworking hotels are the future of hospitality – USA TODAY“In general, we have started to see a major shift in the traditional definition of a hotel. It’s no longer enough to be a rectangular building with a traditional brand name; instead hotels need to keep up with the ever-evolving lifestyle and tech needs. Many are already changing by incorporating larger social spaces — like lobby lounges and bars — and coworking spaces are the next logical step. If hotels aren’t considering demand for live-work spaces, they stand the risk of becoming one dimensional.” - John Hardy, CEO of The John Hardy Group and founder of Radical Innovation in Hospitality
Co-Working, but for Hotels. (Seriously) – Inc.“A layer of technology will also augment guests’ experience at Hotel Schani. One books a room online (obviously), but then also selects their desired floor and proximity to the elevator. Amenities, and even furnishing arrangement, may also be plucked from a menu in the future. The guest also checks in, and unlocks the door to their room, through an app.”
Companies and employees have both begun to hear the buzz around coworking…
And now there is a experimental methodology for companies interested in stepping into the coworking waters.
OpenWork Agency has recently published an article outlining a program that helps company employers incorporate the coworking model into their existing workplace strategy. Read it here: Coworking for company employees: What/Why/How. It explains the ‘Corporate Coworking’ program, an initiative that helps employees gain access to the network of coworking spaces in their area as well as provide options for employers to consider building their own coworking space inside the company building or across their corporate campus.
With employers beginning to embrace coworking, it will help them attract and retain young, Millennial talent as employees (and contract workers). Coworking is helpful at empowering the modern workforce to work according to their own natural rhythms.
“We want to be tour guides, and provide a roadmap for helping companies go from the past (industrial) model of work to the future (sharing economy) model of work,” explains Drew Jones, management professor, author, and former partner and co-owner at Conjunctured in Austin.
The OpenWork Agency has published a new coworking white paper entitled The Coworking Industry: Then, Now, and Tomorrow. (OpenWork was founded two years ago by two Conjunctured partners.) Here are some excerpts from each section of this 15 page report. If you want to read the whole thing in full, simply download the full Coworking Industry Report here.
Coworking Industry (Then):
In the early days of the coworking industry, between 2006 and 2009, coworking entrepreneurs and landlords weren’t the best of friends. When many of us presented our business plans to property owners and managers, they looked at us with a mixture of disbelief and amusement.
The whole notion of coworking, a membership based, community oriented sub-leasing model, was way too outside of the box for them. They couldn’t get past the month-to-month part, or the fact that there wasn’t a single-company tenant that would use the office space. It all seemed so different and uncertain that the whole industry almost didn’t happen.
By 2009-2010 it was clear to some that coworking wasn’t a passing trend or fad. More business-minded companies, such as NextSpace and Green Desk (which would become WeWork), entered the fray and started to commercialize the industry. Of course, WeWork has become the giant of the industry, taking its place alongside other sharing economy unicorns with a $15B valuation. This phase of the adoption cycle also demonstrated that coworking could be turned into a profitable business, even though many of those spaces that opened during this phase of the industry didn’t make the final cut. Cleverly, the ones who did make the cut and managed to scale their businesses did so by bottling up many of the ‘elements of cool’ that were manifest by coworking innovators, and packaging them for sale to a new round of customers.
Coworking Industry (Now):
As mentioned earlier, according to our research, we have now moved into the Early Majority phase of the coworking adoption life cycle. Due to the WeWork Effect, building owners and property managers around the world want to get involved in the industry. We receive inquiries every week from property owners and developers who now want ‘to do coworking.’ It is interesting to note how far we’ve come from those early days when realtors wanted to have nothing to do with coworking.
There are good reasons why many of these professionals have gravitated to coworking. Increasingly, the numbers are working out. Coworking chains such as WeWork and Industrious, with well-designed spaces and brand cache, fill up quickly and charge a premium for their office spaces. When you do the math you can see why they are accelerating and why others are investing in the industry.
Granted, not that many coworking operations can earn $200 psf, but the very possibility that these businesses can be profitable has convinced many in the corporate real estate (CRE) industry that it is no longer a gamble. Because of this, we are seeing a proliferation of new independent operators, the growth and expansion of existing multi-location players, and now a vast interest among traditional real estate companies. Again, as was the case with the Early Adopters, some incumbents will continue to thrive while some new entrants won’t. One aspect of this phase is clear. At this point in the process, brands do matter. Because it is relatively early days, there is still a significant amount of education that needs to take place before coworking is a fully mainstream phenomenon. Offerings such as WeWork will continue to have an advantage because they are frequently written about in the press and because they are…WeWork. Most interesting, though, is to ponder what comes next in the Late Majority phase of the cycle.
Coworking Industry (Tomorrow):
The Unbundling Corporation: Leases, Recurring Revenue, and (REIT) Dividends.
For several generations the basic mindset/model of the CRE industry has been to lock large organizations into long-term leases, which has made complete sense for quite some time. The default setting for leasing has been that each employee in a company is assigned to a fixed work station, so you can easily calculate a certain square foot footprint per employee and come up with the amount of space a company needs. When it enters into a lease, that recurring revenue becomes the basis on which REIT’s (because of their preferred tax status) can pay such healthy dividends. In this equation, each employee’s square foot footprint represents a small percentage of those dividends. Financing mechanisms for large office buildings require predictable revenues and cost structures, so the whole process becomes frozen in place. And thus, at this point in time, for the most part CRE sees coworking as coworking operators who are now capable of paying their rent. They still, for the most part, don’t see, or don’t want to see, the future.
What is missing from this perspective is that what we call coworking is no longer just about Millennials, freelancers, startups, and small teams. Large firms, themselves, are unbundling, and migrating to flex-work solutions, address-less offices, Activity Based Work, and other processes that are accomplishing three powerful things simultaneously:
Radical reduction of real estate footprints (and costs)
Radical improvement in the quality of workspaces for the spaces that remain
Dramatic increases in choice and flexibility for knowledge workers
The implications for CRE are profound.
Turnkey Coworking? When Coworking Becomes Work and Work Becomes Coworking
As we are seeing it, the next phase of the cycle looks like this. Slowly, floor by floor, building owners will, via new turnkey coworking solutions, convert their properties from being occupied by fixed, large tenants who need and want massive footprints (which they decreasingly do), to open, agnostic, membership-based, multi-company campuses that are used (and paid for) on a month to month basis. New, robust software platforms- building operating systems will manage all of this. As we have already seen in the case of WeWork, when a place is designed in a certain way, and also has a sufficient amount of social atmosphere, a thriving ‘coworking space’ can actually out earn the standard lease rate of many buildings. In presenting coworking directly to their corporate clients (effectively bypassing the middlemen), certain functions and costs arise. Buildings will need concierge and community management services, but this can be paid for out of the revenue that otherwise would go to a coworking operator. As it is anyway, property managers spend much of their time showing prospective tenants around buildings, much of which will be unnecessary activity in the future. These professionals can easily be (re)trained to run such enterprise-focused coworking spaces. Furthermore, and most importantly, not only can buildings earn more money by going direct to their customers, these are the very spaces that customers are increasingly demanding. Not only is this demand already being expressed, in a few short years Millennials will be the largest generation at work and they are clearly expressing a desire to work in a manner consistent with other aspects of the sharing economy.
Conjunctured was the first coworking space in Austin, Texas and is one of the oldest and most established coworking brands in the world. Today, there are 44 coworking spaces in Austin and over 10,000 spaces across the world. The partners of Conjunctured have been speakers at a number of global conferences related to innovation, coworking, and workplace strategy. In September 2014, after six years of coworking, the Conjunctured house closed its doors. Following its closure, in an effort to open the ‘coworking model’ into greater society, Conjunctured partners, Drew and David, launched a hybrid consultancy called The OpenWork Agency.
THE OPENWORK AGENCY
OpenWork Agency is a boutique coworking consultancy. All of the partners and consultants in the firm are either current or former coworking operators, and we have (combined) over thirty years of coworking operating experience in the team. We also have a Harvard educated architect, as well as the world’s leading community manager training expert. Recently, in Kisi’s list of the ’30 Most Influential People in Coworking,’ five members of OpenWork’s team made the list. We have expertise in all aspects of the industry, and regularly work across the entire value chain. We formed to help others- real estate investors/developers and companies- understand, strategize, and implement coworking solutions in their own buildings and companies. This includes educating clients in the specifics of the industry, and helping others develop their own brands as a white label service.
Conjunctured, Austin’s first coworking space and one of the original coworking spaces in the world, will be closing its doors at the end of August. Conjunctured first pioneered the coworking movement in Austin six years ago, when coworking was a brand new concept.
Over the years, Conjunctured has explored expansion several times. In 2010 the community banded together to remodel the little house next door that was previously occupied by a psychic. After a six month test lease, we cut our ties and focused on other avenues of growth. In 2011 we nearly signed a lease on a multi office space off South Lamar that would have housed the high demand for coworking in South Austin. In 2012, feeling a high after building partnerships with multiple investors, we nearly signed a least on a 10,000 sq ft warehouse space in downtown. And in 2013, we partnered up with a Conjunctured alumni whose office lease was soon to expire, to launch a special events meeting space, called the Conjunctured Annex, in a new development in East Austin. It was an experiment based on the increased meeting room interest we had been receiving. All the while, maintaining a thriving community at our home location on 1309 E 7th Street.
These days, the coworking industry is booming. There are 15 coworking spaces in Austin and over 4,000 throughout the world. Austin is one of the most coworking dense cities in the world in the company with San Francisco, NYC, Berlin, and Barcelona. At the Global Coworking Unconference Conference (GCUC) in Kansas City a few months ago, where coworking space owners and thought leaders gathered to discuss the industry, Emergent Research reported trends on the massive growth in coworking.
It was also there, that Conjunctured co-owner and author of the recently published, The Fifth Age of Work, Drew Jones, spoke on a panel called “The Future of Design and Work.” He spoke about how corporations are in need of innovation as they struggle to stay relevant as the workplace is evolving and how coworking can be used as a model for finding new talent, reimagining company culture, and inspiring innovation. An avid proponent of coworking since the beginning, Drew owned the first coworking space in Birmingham, Alabama, called Shift Workspace, co-authored the first book on coworking, I’m Outta Here: How Coworking is Making the Office Obsolete, and has been teaching as a business professor at Texas State University since moving to Austin in 2011. As one of the original members of Conjunctured during its first days, Drew maintained his interest in Conjunctured from a distance and when he moved back to Austin, he officially joined the team as co-owner.
Drew and Conjunctured co-founder, David Walker, have together been managing the coworking space since – recruiting new members to the community and keeping the energy (and coffee) flowing. Every day, new emails and phone calls arrive as the mobile workforce rapidly grows. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, 40% of the US workforce will be freelance by the year 2020. This, along with the need for independents to be in a productive and social work environment rather than their homes or coffee shops has been driving the demand for coworking spaces across the globe. Although membership at Conjunctured has decreased over the past two years, as other coworking spaces open and expand throughout Austin, it certainly hasn’t decreased enough to call it quits. In fact, the number of inquiries asking about office space, community events, gig hires, and the in’s and out’s of coworking is at an all time high.
So, why is Conjunctured closing its doors? Not the reason you may think.
Yes, the Conjunctured house (the first coworking house in the nation) was purchased last year by a new owner, and yes the proposed new rents for the next lease term were tripled, and yes there is more competition in coworking than ever before.
But ultimately, we elected not to renew the lease on East Seventh street and made the tough decision not to bring our current members and future members to a new larger space in East Austin—the toughest decision in the company’s history…in order to grow.
The future is bright for Conjunctured, even without signing a new commercial lease.
For those that follow the coworking industry, you’ve noticed new industries adopting elements of the coworking ethos to bring disruption (and innovation) to outdated models. The coworking infrastructure breathes new life into an old model by allowing static work environments to evolve into true hubs of dynamic, collaborative innovation. Libraries, universities, hotels, local governments, and corporations are following the lead of the thriving coworking movement. Conjunctured can grow by opening up new locations, or by helping to innovate within new sectors of the economy.
In fact we (David and Drew) are headed to Palo Alto, New York, Amsterdam, and Barcelona over the next six months to pioneer a new future for the global coworking movement. You see, Conjunctured may be closing the little coworking house in East Austin, but in doing so, we’re opening the coworking model to the rest of society. Recently announced as one of the winners of the Unlimited Human Potential Challenge M-PRIZE sponsored by SAP for our Nomatik Coworking entry, we’re going all-in on what could be an opportunity to bring the essence of coworking to a broader landscape, making a substantial impact as the Sharing Economy booms and the design of the workplace innovates to bring our society into the Fifth Age. We’re inviting coworking proponents (and coworking space owners) around the world to join us in this movement.
Moving forward, Conjunctured has partnered up with fellow coworking pioneers, Cody Marx Bailey, co-founder of Creative Space, Texas’s first coworking space, and Tony Bacigalupo, co-founder of one of NYC’s first coworking space, New Work City, alongside international partners, Seats2Meet and the SerendipityMachine from the Netherlands, founded by European entrepreneur and trend watcher, Ronald van den Hoff. Seats2Meet facilitates a dynamic environment where guests work together, meet each other, and share knowledge. SerendipityMachine is a social tool that helps guests make unexpected connections with other guests and local coworkers. Ronald also wrote the book Society 3.0, and has started a movement in Europe that is quickly growing. Serendipitously, it was at the recent global coworking conference where Drew and Ronald first met. Conjunctured has also partnered with Maite Moreno Bosch and David Vilella Balleste of MondayHappyMonday and Neàpolis Cowork in Barcelona in an effort to connect thought leadership and coworking methodology to the business community in Spain. The first client is a winery in the Catalonia region that is implementing a Corporate Coworking initiative to revitalize its culture and innovate its bottom line.
As Conjunctured begins its transformation we have authored a collection of three pitch decks outlining a methodology for authentically exporting the coworking model:
Pop-Up Coworking – Learn how pop-up coworking can connect you with top talent in your city.
Hotel Coworking – Incorporate the energy and buzz of coworking into the hotel experience.
In addition, we offer an introductory workshop called, The Fifth Age Workshop, explaining what Activity Based Working is and how it can transform your company culture. We walk companies or licensees through the theory and methodology of ABW – qualifying and licensing participants to work with the Fifth Age tools. Like the Fifth Age Program, these are delivered either directly to the company or to third party groups interested in using them in their own practice.
Introducing Nomatik Coworking membership to the Conjunctured community & Pop-Up Coworking to Austin’s coolest workplaces for community “work-ups”:
So, where does this leave the members of Conjunctured? Conjunctured has always been community-first. As such, Conjunctured is going back to the roots of the original coworking essence, Jelly.
For those that study the coworking movement, you’ll know that before there were coworking spaces, there were Jelly meet ups. Jelly was started up in NYC and quickly spread throughout the world as people craved what would soon become the coworking movement. These were coworking meet ups at various places around town, usually once per week. Coffee shops, people’s apartments, libraries—anywhere there was wifi and plugs. There were no membership fees and it was very ad hoc. Before you went to a Jelly, you would check out the local Jelly wiki page and see who was going and what they were working on. Often people would share their twitter profiles and a little info about themselves so that folks had an idea of what to expect. Conjunctured was founded by four twenty-somethings that became united through Austin’s Jelly community, Dusty Reagan (founder of Austin Jelly, currently: owner/operator FriendOrFollow), John Erik Metcalf (currently: Director of Business Development at Radius Intelligence), Cesar Torres (currently: Lead Designer at Sidecar), and David Walker (currently: co-owner/operator at Conjunctured).
The above photo is a throwback from 2008. Jelly was amazing. You met new people all the time. It was social. It was fun. It was adventurous. It got you out into the city exploring new places. Many people experienced professional “community” for the first time in a Jelly environment. Once a week coffee shops were overrun with a flashmob of coworkers. It was surreal to experience first hand. As coworking spaces have opened up at a rapid speed, the Jelly movement has pretty much disappeared. Was Jelly simply a stepping stone towards coworking spaces? Why do you need Jelly when you have a coworking space to join? Jelly saved the isolated mobile worker. It helped the independent get out into the world—meet new people all the time and be exposed to an energy of innovation. It was a culture hack. And it was inspiring. A new place, a new experience that everyone looked forward to each week. The ironic thing about coworking spaces, as they became more prevalent, is that they have become just “the new office.” No longer a cultural hack, but becoming more and more a cultural norm. It has become part of the routine. The same people. The same experience. A consistent experience sprinkled with a little new-ness here and there while housed in a community environment with all the convenience of an office. Coworking space communities are notoriously silo’ed off from each other, creating a lack of collaboration and interaction between the very people that desire connectedness. What also got lost, was the excitement of breaking into new ground. Breaking a rule in society—doing something you weren’t supposed to do, but you knew was on the right side of history. It was the revolution of the nomadic worker realizing the power of connection and the innovation that comes with adventure.
To reinvigorate some of the adventure, Conjunctured is launching pop-up coworking as the next evolution of the Jelly movement. We’re partnering up with a handful of Austin’s coolest workplaces that have historically only been open to its employees. (If your workplace is interested in being a venue, sign up at Nomatik. And Independent coworkers can sign up too.) We’re giving our members the opportunity to experience that excitement of the Jelly movement in environments that would not be possible without the mainstream adoption of the coworking ethos. And companies get a chance to get access to some of the most talented independents around to hire for contract gigs. See, companies get it more today, than they did six years ago. It’s no longer a battle of the freelancers versus the full-timer’s. In fact, many companies pay the coworking membership for their employee because they know its a better environment than they could provide. We’re creating a Nomatik Coworking calendar so that members who have the Nomatik Coworking membership can opt-in to work from the inside of companies that never before knew how to open their doors to an outside community. And now, thanks to the adoption of the coworking model, it’s possible. It’s also reimagining how companies hire talent. Why go through an outdated interview process when you can just work side by side with potential collaborators for a week?
It’s a new way for companies to hire independents for projects. It’s a new way for companies to share their mission. It’s a new way for the citizens of a city to step into a new environment in a trailblazing fashion and share their energy with organizations they are fans of, but have yet to have the opportunity to collaborate with, in a meaningful way. It’s a way for talented freelancers who have opted out of corporate America to opt-in to gigs with high paying clients. It’s a way to solve what they’re calling “the Talent Gap.” Also, it’s a way for employees of companies to feel the intangible of being a part of coworking experience.
And it’s an experiment for companies to see what it would be like to have a coworking space inside their corporate campus. If they want a permanent installation, we can do that for them with our Fifth Age Program. To be one of the innovative organizations to opt in to pop-up coworking, let us know nomatik.com/#contact.
Update the Source Code of the Workplace
Between Corporate Coworking, Hotel Coworking, Pop-Up Coworking, among a slew of community initiatives – Conjunctured has its hands quite full. Coworking, like any movement, grows and evolves. Times, they are a’chang’n, as they say. If you would like to participate in Coworking 3.0 – let us know. We’re looking for partners, allies, and a community who gets it. We look at all this as a sort of Open Source Coworking.
All this being said, the little house where Conjunctured started is open for coworking throughout the month of August, with the lease being officially over August 31. If you’re one of the hundreds of community members who still have a key to the house, you’re especially invited to come by. There will be a closing party, details to be announced soon. Stop by and say farewell to the USA’s first coworking house and Texas’ longest running coworking space.
If you would like to show your support in a financial way, please consider sending a few bucks to firstname.lastname@example.org or sign up as a Philanthropist member on Nomatik.com. This will help us close out some final Conjunctured expenses, and will allow us to start fresh into our next evolution. We’re also considering selling the Conjunctured brand to the right individual, especially if we can find some strategic way to grow together: Nomatik + Conjunctured. Contact email@example.com & firstname.lastname@example.org to start the conversation.
Please consider sharing this news to friends and colleagues who are passionate about the coworking movement and the mission to Build a Movement to Create a Better World of Work - Press info here. Drew and David are available for interviews. Also, if you’re a coworking space owner and you’d like to introduce the Coworking Model to large organizations in your city, let’s partner together on the Fifth Age Program.
About Conjunctured & Nomatik Coworking:
Conjunctured is one of the most established coworking spaces in the world. Based in Austin, Texas, we grew out of the epicenter of the innovation economy. Our Nomatik Coworking brand is our way of bringing the community experience and talent of coworking to organizations in the US and throughout the world. Nomatik serves as a “disruptive bypass” (1) that brings together the interests and needs of the growing population of independent professionals with companies prepared to embrace open structures and open innovation.