Subsidized drinks and snacks, networking opportunities, and a sense of community sounds like an excellent work setup, doesn’t it? A coworking space is an open environment for individuals, groups, and small companies to focus independently or collaborate on projects. However, coworking spaces extend beyond just a space to work. It provides comfort, a good atmosphere, accessibility, convenience and fosters social interaction.
You might think it is all just a trend, but coworking spaces are more than just the latest office fad. In 2021, there were 24,000 coworking spaces globally which are predicted to rise to nearly 42,000 by the end of 2024. According to a United States poll, the selling factor for 70% of coworking spaces is an enjoyable work atmosphere, but creating this environment doesn’t come without challenges.
This article will cover four challenges coworking spaces face and how IoT helps create an atmosphere that keeps current members satisfied and new members joining.
Four challenges faced by coworking spaces
The rapid growth in coworking spaces also comes with an increased challenge to meet demands. Owners must address friction points in the workspace to keep member satisfaction high and continue improving operations.
No matter the business, the carbon footprint of the building and internal systems matter. Coworking spaces typically have many rooms requiring proper heating and cooling and desks requiring adequate lighting. Overuse of these electricity inputs when not necessary, for example, when nobody is occupying the space, leads to wasting resources. Being mindful of overuse and taking precautions can also help to improve the company’s sustainability and, therefore, ESG score.
Health and safety issues
The environment in which people work plays a massive role in their health and productivity. The US Environmental Protection Agency calls the acute illness and comfort effects linked to time spent in a building “sick building syndrome” (SBS). SBS can be caused by inadequate ventilation and chemical and biological contaminants. Most often, these contaminants cannot be seen by the naked eye. However, that does not mean they are not present.
Lack of occupant comfort
Coworking spaces should be comfortable for a productive work day. Comfort can come in many forms, such as physical amenities like plush couches or a plethora of snack options. It can also be the service and support members have access to. For example, IT issues can slow the work day down or low staff can make grabbing your cup of joe a longer than intended break. Prompt attention to these and other friction points in the building can mitigate waiting times and enhance workflow productivity.
Managing shared space and people flow
Important to productive work is enough space to spread out, whether in a private desk or collaborative room, no matter a customer's needs. Additionally, just like a gym membership, everyone with a coworking membership will not come every day. For this reason, spaces must equip themselves to handle the changing influx of people to avoid overcrowding and friction points.
How IoT addresses challenges in coworking spaces
Consumption and utilization of energy
Knowing how to reduce abnormal and over-energy consumption is essential to understand how it is distributed in real-time. IoT integrations can use room occupancy sensors to control heating, cooling, and lighting. If a room is not occupied, these systems will shut off. This automated process makes malfunctioning systems easily identifiable, and can apply preventative measures.
Indoor air quality
Indoor air quality affects our well-being and productivity; therefore, coworking spaces can benefit from measuring and tracking qualities such as temperature, humidity, pressure, Co2, and VOC. Trigger actions can apply when certain levels are reached, such as the color change of a smart light or a window opening for immediate ventilation. This automation adjusts the environment accordingly without any human interaction. Access to these data metrics is a selling point for a clean, safe, and healthy work environment. A space that increases overall mood and happiness is a competitive advantage.
Service on demand
To improve efficiency, service on demand allows for easy regulation of facility management requests and logistical requirements. With the touch of a button, members can conveniently indicate that there is no coffee left in the kitchen or that there is a technical issue with the TV in the meeting room. The button reduces the need to involve someone in reporting it, and when it is sent immediately, it can be further assigned to an engineer for proactive maintenance.
Desk and room occupancy & people flow
Sensors attached to desks and meeting rooms track which spaces are free and occupied to allow for an overview of space occupancy. This data can be displayed on a digital sign, with green indicating free spots and red indicating unavailable. This overview helps members to know where they can find a free workspace and can also help with meeting room booking and management.
As sensors can attach to desks and rooms, people flow sensors are hung at all building entrance points to track traffic and flow. Analysis of this data can determine the most crowded days and times. That way, spaces can employ more employees when it is busy and fewer employees during down hours. This scheduling can reduce the challenge of under and over-staffing. Displaying this real-time data on a website page allows members to plan and schedule their time accordingly when there are fewer people.
How connected is your coworking space?
We have identified four coworking space challenges and IoT solutions that use data to drive value based decision-making. Do you need support getting started with your first use case in your coworking space? Adopting smart technology might just help to gain that competitive edge.