The well-known mantra of real estate reminding us that location is so important might as well be the only factor in deciding what to invest in. It’s certainly true when you decide to open a coworking space as a solution to the miles of office space so many property owners are left with since the shift to remote and hybrid workspaces.
The location decision gets more complicated when you’re looking to open a coworking space. There’s a lot more to consider than whether you’re on a commuter route or in a competitively priced area. Besides connecting to technology, the space has to connect with the people who will use it.
That’s become a more rational process now that coworking has begun to mature. The decade of the 2010s represented the development years, when innovation and creativity were the rule. Users wanted cool spaces with coffee bars, game areas, and couches in conference rooms.
We’re still seeing demand for that, but as the industry becomes more niche-driven, coworking providers no longer have to give everybody a pool table. Large corporate tenants are taking a significant share of the coworking market and looking for business-first amenities like high-speed internet connections. They want meeting rooms for working, not relaxing.
That’s the first element of your location decision: Do you want to operate as a small boutique provider with spaces that attract a more creative tenant or are you more comfortable serving larger corporate entities?
Here’s how to factor that consideration and other criteria into your choice of a coworking location:
First, Research the Market
Look at the demographics of the area you’re considering. Are other flexible workspace providers operating there? You don’t want to be one of many operators, but neither should you jump into a place with no coworking; the lack of competition may mean the lack of a demand.
Investigate the area’s demographics, especially looking at ages, occupations, income, and family size. With the maturing of the coworking industry has come a sophisticated array of data that can help you make a more educated decision than ever before.
Creative users like writers, designers, and media specialists may be attracted to urban spaces with a cool vibe from cafés, bookstores, and international restaurants. Just be sure you can offer space for their clients, who may not be as hip and trendy and are likely to be driving rather than walking to the building.
Corporate tenants will probably want a more traditional atmosphere with plenty of room for employees and clients. That dictates offering something outside the city, where spaces are larger. They also prefer newer, more modern facilities. Young hipsters may be into scruffy-looking walls and chipped paint; corporate tenants, not so much.
Transportation and Parking
If you set up in an urban location, you’ll want it to be close to public transportation or at least near a good parking facility. Find a place that’s near a residential area, to make it walkable for your users who may live there.
Public transportation is also a draw for many workers in suburban locations; in fact, with the ever-rising cost of gas and the seemingly constant highway congestion, it may be even more important to them. If you can’t locate within walking distance of a train or bus stop, try to be a short Uber or Lyft ride away.
Not even the most independent professional works in isolation. Everyone in business looks for networking opportunities, and the smaller your business, the more you need it. Locating your coworking space in an area with a variety of different businesses will increase its attraction to users looking to synergize with others – for camaraderie and social engagement at the very least.
This is critically important even for experienced coworking operators. A commercial real estate broker who specializes in opening flexible workspaces can help you determine your needs and map out a plan for offering the perfect property to companies and individuals – preferably one that will be as flexible in anticipating the changing demands of your users and this dynamic industry for a while. A coworking specialist can crunch the numbers for you and guide you in this important first step of determining whom you want to serve and where to find them.
Like most other commercial real estate decisions, choosing a location for your coworking space requires thorough research of your market and a strong sense of your clientele.
Changes in the evolving coworking industry allow you to offer a highly customized product, but success depends on knowing what will work for each segment.