Does the Future of Coworking Lie in Membership Services?
Coworking membership services like Croissant provide flexibility for users and traffic for work spaces.
Coworking spaces are becoming more prolific by the month, and consumer choice is not getting any easier. With a plethora of options comes great responsibility. How’s an entrepreneur supposed to commit to a single coworking space when they’ve got meetings all across town and half a mind to move out of the apartment within the year?
Some companies are jumping into the industry to solve the problem of too much choice. Croissant is one such example in New York. The product, which will soon expand to D.C., gives users a membership to several coworking spaces, without having to manually sign up with each one. It’s like what ClassPass did for fitness. Croissant offers the benefit of curation and flexibility, helping users focus on what they’re working on rather than where they’re working on it.
At worst, these services can be seen as middle men, skimming profits from a growing industry. But they provide real value for users who don’t want to lock themselves into a particular coworking space. Flexibility is one of coworking’s biggest draws in the first place; for the always-on-the-go entrepreneur, it makes sense to pay for a subscription that’s valid all across town.
Like it or not, this change is inevitable. As the market grows, consumer choice is only going to get more difficult, so middle men will naturally pop up to make the searching, signing, and managing process easier. Office listing platforms and group memberships make it easier for the customer to cut to the chase and start working.
For coworking space owners, products like Croissant could be a bigger boon than they seem. In exchange for full-time memberships, Croissant drives part-timers to the space. It’s not a stretch to expect that some of those part-timers could be convinced to stay full-time. It’s like a paid trial in a sense, where coworking spaces are given the chance to convince new members to commit.
This is especially valuable for new spaces that are eager to get feet through the door. Traffic boosts word-of-mouth spread, provides user feedback, and grants a precious (if small) stream of income. These are all things that a coworking space needs to get off the ground. While it might be hard to compete with a giant like WeWork for your customers’ attention, you can stand out by providing flexible services through a product like Croissant. If you’re the best space that the part-time user has tried, then congrats: you’ve earned a new member.
Part-time membership services might well be the future of coworking, but what remains to be seen is whether people will stick with them long-term. Apps like Croissant work as a trial period, but there’s a chance that some customers will stick with the flexible, part-time model for years. If that’s the case, coworking spaces will have to consider how much of their space they offer to subscription apps, because there’s no guarantee that happy part-timers will ever want to commit to a single space.