GCUC Recap

By on May 3, 2019 in Coworking, Events, News

Last month, Yardi Kube was introduced to the coworking world at the Global Coworking Unconference Conference (GCUC). The U.S. edition of the annual event was held in Denver from April 15-18.

Image courtesy GCUC

This popular coworking industry gathering provides attendees with extensive in-depth sessions with experts in the coworking space, educating them on financing, technology, community building, and branding. The first day of the event was a deep dive into especially hot topics for the coworking industry.

Industry hot topics: making money

Led by Jerome Chang of Blankspaces, the finance discussion focused on the number one way to make money as a coworking operator – through lease incentives. Fundraising methods for shared space startups include venture capital funding, personal loans, investment from friends and family members, and other avenues, but Chang shared that SBA loans for such businesses are unlikely.

The average traditional office space will have about 165-185 square feet per employee. In a coworking space it could be as low as 50-70 square feet. Coworking operators can book common areas at up to 150 percent capacity, because your space won’t always be full (this uses the same logic as a gym membership: it’s possible to overbook because not everyone works out simultaneously). The biggest moneymaker, however, will be meeting rooms. They’re priced higher per hour than any other amenity or space in and should be rentable to the general public, as well as members.

Virtual memberships provide a low-cost entry to members wanting to try out the industry. While individually, these memberships won’t be a primary source of income, it is a source of unlimited potential with no space restrictions.

The Blankspaces model allocates 35-50 percent of space to private offices, Chang shared. And it’s important to make over 70 percent of your total available square footage into rentable space in order to maximize profits.

Technology best practices

Led by Bill Jacobson of Workbar, this GCUC session focused on what technology to incorporate into a coworking space depending on membership numbers. To break this down as simply as possible, there are four phases in which to consider escalating levels of tech.

Phase 1 – Up to 100 coworking members

Technology should provide small space providers with the capacity to handle reservations, Wi-Fi, and of course, a business website. Start simple, learn about your potential audience, and invest in internal infrastructure while growing your membership.

Phase 2 – Between 100-200 coworking members

This size is when customer relationship management (CRM) comes into play. Member communication and security become important. An effective platform for managing member profiles, preferences, payments, shared space visits, and more can be extremely valuable at this stage.

Phase 3 – 300-800 coworking members

This is the ‘integrated’ stage. Digital displays, increased staffing and reception, video conferencing and publishing technology are now at the core of the shared space experience, and a robust CRM is essential.

Phase 4 – 800+ coworking members

At this membership size, the coworking operation is sophisticated enough to require a mobile app, providing users with an effortless digital experience. For the back office, real-time reporting, especially if investors are involved or expansion is planned. Door access tracking becomes even more vital at this level, when so many members are coming in and out daily.

Community Building

Tony Bacigalupo led this engaging discussion on community in the workspace, alongside Ashley Proctor, founder of the renowned 312 Main in Canada.

Attracting members when their primary focus is simply a physical space to complete focused work is difficult. Keeping them excited about the coworking experience can be a challenge as well. At the core of attracting and retaining members is getting them to understand that the coworking experience is community-based, event-based, relationship-based, and never just a room full of automatons.

A key strategy for success here is always having an upcoming event on the calendar. It will often be as simple as ‘muffin Mondays’ or a happy hour. Member-focused sessions such as show and tell about members’ business once a month can go a long way toward building community and reducing isolation.


Philip Vanhoutte, founder of Ozadi, led a session on the five keys to wellness and the importance of nature in the work environment.

He named noise as the main issue that employees have to overcome in a workspace. Acoustic shielding is more important than ever to absorb, block and/or cover excessive noise.

There are those who believe one of the core components of coworking – open style workspaces – is poor due to interruptions and noise. But human-centered design is vital to successful work. Ideally, we need a balance of interaction without the overwhelming interruptions.

Philip suggested that it is less than ideal to be sitting indoors, with no view, staring at a screen for most of the day. The result is stress and illness. Incorporating nature into your day will greatly increase health and well-being. Access to sunlight and outdoor spaces can be an attractive feature of any coworking business.

Design to Differentiate

Jacob Bates, CEO of CommonGrounds, led this session on how to make a coworking space stand out in a crowded market. His first point was that he does not feel the market is saturated, as some may assert.

The most successful coworking spaces will feel large and open, but still incorporate as much seating as possible. One key differentiator in design is the level of control occupants have, from thermal conditions, to lighting, movable desks, HVAC, and many other customizable factors.

Furniture, acoustics, mountable walls, natural daylight all play a role in workspace wellness. Use data to inform adjustments. If data says people use this space more, or a certain room with no windows generated no revenue, change up the strategy!

Yardi Kube was also a proud presenting sponsor of the GCUC event. Want more coworking insight? Visit the Yardi Kube blog, with content on all things coworking.