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Heads-up, transactional spaces: The future is coming


Hey, flexspace operators focused on transactions rather than transformation: the future is coming.

The future of brand is community, and the future of coworking is human.

As coworking continues to grow and adapt to meet the new work reality, spaces are evolving into social clubs, places of genuine belonging, thriving hubs for connection, entrepreneur communities, homes for creatives, and buzzing third spaces.

And I am here for it.

The coworking movement is exciting, powerful, connected, human-focused and on the rise. We’re busy building the future as it unfolds before us.

Transactional spaces are busy renting desks and offices to whoever will buy them.

Do you feel that difference? Because it’s a visceral kind of thing. It’s the difference between walking into a silent workplace where people may give you a polite nod as you pass in the hallway, and walking into a place where you belong—where people are happy to see you, supportive of what you’re working on, and eager to learn, share and grow with you.

As remote work becomes the norm, companies are increasingly willing to put their employees into flex spaces. But what do the employees find there?

Sometimes it’s a beautiful-but-unactivated space—a place to get some work done, but not much more.

And sometimes the places employees end up in are thriving spaces where they can connect, learn, share, collaborate, create … and get some work done.

Which type of space would you rather be in?

And which type of space do future generations want?

I’m betting that young people and emerging generations don’t want executive suites. They want humans. And connection. They want the places they spend time to be places of real connection. Some staggering statistics point to the impact our loneliness epidemic is having on humanity and our collective wellness.

One study showed that lack of social connection is a greater detriment to health than obesity, smoking and high blood pressure.

Loneliness correlates with subsequent increases in symptoms related to dementia, depression, and many other issues related to mental health.

Social connections are one of the most important factors for people’s happiness and health.

What does this have to do with flex spaces and coworking? Everything. Post-Covid, things have changed. People are no longer willing to sacrifice their lives, family, friends and wellness for a job they could be fired from at any moment. I believe that the era of the Big Boss is over and the era of Healthy Thriving Humans and Teams is upon us.

So if you’re still banking on transactional relationships in lifeless spaces, consider this your heads-up: you’ll be left behind as people flock to spaces of connection, belonging and humanness.

The good news is that any space can be a space of belonging.

But it requires shifting your mindset from one of transactions to one of transformation. How can you support your members in creating their best selves and best lives? How can you contribute positively to the people around you? How can you make an impact in your local community, beyond selling desks and wifi?

Figure out the answers to these questions and you’ll be on your way.

Your brand, business and members will thank you.

A version of this article appeared in my Allwork.Space column.

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