Takeaways from GCUC London 2019

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Its that time of the year when we get juicy. The second GCUC UK event took place in London last week where the leaders in flexspace and coworking get together, to network, share and have a bit of fun. Despite WeWork being in the news the first day was filled with energy and some great panels. Day 2 featured the “Unconference” and Day 3 included the popular tours of London’s best coworking venues.

#Spaceasaservice – the billion $ hashtag

Anthony Slumbers gave an engaging overview of why Space-As-A-Service is the norm. He shared how technology has changed our expectation of work.  The office is finally a place to get work done! The landlord will have to shift roles from rent collector to service provider. To do this, they will need to measure a new set of KPIs and a new skill set. In Anthony’s words, “focusing on people will increase value – focusing on real estate won’t.” In a thoroughly entertaining session we received positive reinforcement of why the business is here to stay.

Customers want the basics done well – don’t forget the loos!

The curated session, moderated by Jonny Weinbrenn and featuring Mark Warren from Gate One and Julia Lankraehr from Bold Clarity, was a real eye opener. Two customers shared what they wanted and expected from coworking and Flexspace. It was brilliant to hear why the clients use flexspace and their needs once they had moved in. The importance of flexibility came across loud and clear but it was the basic amenities that were key. Well designed Kitchens and clean loos matter to clients.

UK Market is alive and well and demand forecast to grow

GCUC also gave us a look at some key metrics. James Rankin from the Instant Group and Carsten Foersch from Deskmag took a deep dive into the UK market. James shared his views on the structure of the market and the changing nature of demand. Millennials have a high expectation of coworking spaces. The following slide shows the facilities that millennials expect in the workspace today.

But perhaps of even more interest is that outlook for the coworking and flexspace industry in the UK. By 2023 Instant Group forecasts that flexible space will account for 12% of commercial real estate.

Coworking can learn from hospitality

In this session we discovered that benchmarking is key to a maturing industry in developing staff. However Matthew Bell, from CitizenM Hotels, was quick to point out that hotels rely less on the outdated star rating system and more on peer to peer advocacy, which coworking can benefit from.

Staff the key to providing a great experience

The brother and sister team of Niki and Giles Fuchs from Office Space in Town shared their success story with some great tips for operators. When asked by moderator Mat Oakley from Savills what one bit of advice they would share, Giles was quick to stress owning your own buildings was key to higher margins and avoiding potential conflicts with landlords. Niki’s advice resonated with the audience: “Love your staff.”

Sharing Experience and ideas is still the heart of coworking 

The Unconference session was as interactive as ever. Coloured Post-it notes adorned the wall and operators selected the subjects they wanted to discuss. Some amazing subjects were covered by operators from over 15 countries. Subjects ranging from rural coworking, increasing profitability, coworking technology and running better events were all discussed.

Technology is the foundation of coworking

Yardi’s own Justin Harley chaired a panel discussing technology. A well-attended and lively session discussed how to approach technology when opening a new space. The panel concluded that it was essential to add plenty of bandwidth but in conjunction with a strong bandwidth management tool. Most of all it was key to offer a frictionless experience for clients in all aspects of technology.