Digitisation and sharing economy: levers for coworking and coliving

Digitisation and sharing economy: levers for coworking and coliving

For Christopher Hütwohl, Managing Director at Corestate Capital Advisors Spain, the growing interest from international funds for shared working spaces such as coworking and shared living spaces such as coliving, especially student residences and first homes, confirm its success and acceptance. «Digitisation, sharing economy and urban concentration have boosted these products, making them less alternative, but it will be their management that will truly end up defining them», he added. According to him, coliving is no longer an alternative product, but a product with specific characteristics and valid both for thirty-somethings and for pensioners.

Spaces for new living habits

The panel also analysed the influence the new generations’ change of habits, increasingly more supportive of shared uses, had and will keep having on the development of these models. For Jeffrey Sújar, Urbania’s managing partner for Alternative Investments, it is clear that this is a segment which is benefiting from its users’ change of mentality, both private, as is the case with coliving, or corporate, as is the case with coworking. «With this second wave, all, managers and users have learned how to manage the unforeseen in a different way and to rethink how we want our common spaces to be in the future. Covid has taught us a lesson: spaces define users, not architects», he explained.

Model’s evolution

One other subject that was debated was the small number of players who, for now, are making active use of these alternative models in Spain. Is there an excessive concentration of operators? «In part, yes», stated Jeffrey Sújar. According to him, it is a fact that there are currently few operators, but, «little by little new ones will appear». The appearance of these operators will accelerate a future market segmentation, which does not yet exist. «Student residences, for example, will open up to groups with lower socioeconomic standards than they do today. This will force us to reformulate the quantity and quality of the spaces which create communities within our residences. Digitisation will help us under this new scenario», he concluded.

David Vega, Lexington Workspaces’ CEO, believes the segment will tend to become more concentrated through mergers and acquisitions. «This is inevitable in an increasingly more mature segment and Covid will accelerate this process. New alternative models will also appear on the trail of the sharing economy, and the already existing alternative models will be transformed. For example, in deciding how to transfer the high costs of spaces which create communities to coworking will probably lead us to a radical reframing based on more intensive use of technology», he explained.

In that sense, Carlos Olmos, founder & managing director at uDA, insisted on the essential role technology will play in extending these collaborative models and other niche businesses, such as senior residences. «Technology will be a disruptive lever in redefining the value chain of these alternative business models», he concluded.

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