Café Coworking

By on Jun 28, 2021 in Technology

Before coworking became an industry, we had coffee shops. Any café with free internet became a place where students and professionals would settle in for work. In the age of coworking spaces, coffee shops are still formidable competition—and tech innovations make the competition stronger.

Coffee shops are cashing in as flexible workspaces

We’ve all witnessed the coffee shop scene: with a beverage nearby, individuals and small groups hammer out ideas on their laptops or in hushed conversations. Sometimes, we’re one of them. Other times, we vie with them for table space. Coffee shops are the original flexible workspace, and more shops are converting available square footage to fill climbing demand.

Awake Coffee Company opened in metro Atlanta in 2015. It was a small, tight space that wasn’t conducive to working. I went twice before finding a different spot. In 2019, Awake moved just one block away to a larger location, and now you can’t keep me out of it. It offers formal and informal coworking quarters alongside its cozy coffee operation.

Awake isn’t the only shop cashing in on flexible workspaces. An increasing number of cafes seek a bump in revenue by offering coworking plans. Even restaurants in major metros are getting their cut of the pie. The New York Times reported on the shift, and it continues to gain momentum.

New industries blossomed from the shift. KettleSpace and WorkEatPlay both specialize in turning food-focused locales into coworking spaces. Their clients’ clientele are people who don’t want to pay several hundred dollar or more per month for a coworking space. Additionally, they crave a relaxed, social atmosphere. These are freelancers, contractors and gig workers who love what they do because it doesn’t require a designated space.

Yes, you can hold your own with the big guys

If you’re a café interested in adding flexible workspace, first understand where you have an advantage and where your competition shines.

You offer carefully crafted beverages and food in a cozy environment. Those factors, coupled with free wi-fi, means workers can (and will) enjoy hours in the space. You’ve likely worked hard to create a sense of community. This is largely why consumers will pick you over a conventional coworking space.

The competition, however, offers faster and more secure wi-fi, reliable seating and less background noise. But on all accounts, they’re expensive. They’re also often less personable and require workers to leave the premises to fill their bellies.

The right tools can help you shine where the competition is weak.

You need more than extra room for a flexible workspace café  

You’ve got the drinks, food, and the ambiance. Now what? Simple services level the playing field for coffee shops that want to expand into coworking and increase revenue.

First things first: connectivity. Consider enhanced wi-fi with different tiers for free and paying members. Secure, fast connections will set you apart from other cafes. Consider a professional service to improve connectivity by providing high-speed data, minimize degradation risk and offer a single service identifier (SSID).

Space management will also make a smoother transition to flexible workspaces.  A blend of quiet office nooks, couches, two-top and small group tables offer members a range of experiences. Each environment should be equipped with charging stations so paying members don’t have to compete with casual coffee shop guests.  

Avoid leaving space management to chance. When members pay for a space, they don’t expect to compete with non-paying customers for a seat. Reservations are a must, and you don’t need to hire a new person to manage the task.

Use coworking space management software to allow members to reserve their workspace. Cloud-based user portals make reservations and payments a breeze, so your staff is free to make lattes and build community.

Keep flexibility in the forefront. While some workers will value month-long contracts, shorter-term agreements open a wellspring of opportunities. Some shops offer low rates per hour (think $2 – $5), daily or weekly rates in areas with high traffic in business travel. Shorter contracts may also permit you to skip applications, which is a barrier to entry for enrollment.

Play on your strength with beverage credits built into the memberships. You are a coffee house, after all, and that’s why prospects choose you over conventional coworking spaces.

Book a demo to learn more about the benefits of flexible workspace solutions.