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Flevy Management Insights Case Study
Cooperative Workspace Strategy for Education Sector in North America


There are countless scenarios that require Coworking. Fortune 500 companies typically bring on global consulting firms, like McKinsey, BCG, Bain, Deloitte, and Accenture, or boutique consulting firms specializing in Coworking to thoroughly analyze their unique business challenges and competitive situations. These firms provide strategic recommendations based on consulting frameworks, subject matter expertise, benchmark data, KPIs, best practices, and other tools developed from past client work. We followed this management consulting approach for this case study.

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Consider this scenario: The organization is a network of coworking spaces catering to professionals in the education industry, specifically targeting educators, tutors, and edtech startups.

Recently, the organization has observed a plateau in membership growth and utilization rates, despite a growing trend in the coworking industry. The organization seeks to revamp its coworking offering to better align with the dynamic needs of its members and to stand out in a competitive market. Operational inefficiencies and an undefined member acquisition strategy are suspected to be contributing to stagnating performance.



Given the organization's stagnation in a burgeoning industry, it's hypothesized that the root causes may include a mismatch between coworking services offered and the specific needs of education professionals, as well as a lack of targeted marketing efforts to attract new members. Additionally, there may be operational inefficiencies within the coworking spaces that impact member satisfaction and retention.

Strategic Analysis and Execution Methodology

The organization's challenges can be systematically addressed by adopting a proven 5-phase Strategic Coworking Framework, which enhances operational efficiency and market positioning. This methodology is known to yield significant improvements in member acquisition and retention, ultimately driving revenue growth.

  1. Market and Internal Capabilities Assessment: Begin with a comprehensive evaluation of current market trends, competitive landscape, and internal capabilities. Key questions include: How does the organization's offering compare with competitors? What are the unique needs of education professionals in coworking spaces? This phase involves stakeholder interviews, member surveys, and competitive analysis, with the goal of identifying gaps in the current offering.
  2. Value Proposition Refinement: Based on insights from the assessment, refine the coworking value proposition to better serve the education market. Activities include workshops to define unique selling points and member personas. Analysis of member feedback helps to tailor services and amenities, with interim deliverables including a refined service model and marketing strategy.
  3. Operational Excellence: Streamline operations to improve member experience and reduce costs. Key activities involve process mapping, identifying bottlenecks, and implementing best practices in coworking space management. The expected insights include a list of operational improvements and a roadmap for implementation.
  4. Strategic Marketing and Sales Plan: Develop a targeted marketing and sales strategy to attract new members. This phase focuses on building partnerships within the education industry, digital marketing campaigns, and community-building events. The challenge is to create compelling messaging that resonates with the target audience.
  5. Performance Management and Continuous Improvement: Establish a framework for ongoing monitoring and refinement of coworking operations and marketing efforts. Activities include setting up KPIs, feedback loops, and regular review meetings. The goal is to maintain operational excellence and ensure the coworking offering remains relevant and competitive.

Learn more about Operational Excellence Continuous Improvement Sales Strategy

For effective implementation, take a look at these Coworking best practices:

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Co-Working Space Financial Model Template (Excel workbook and supporting Excel workbook)
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Coworking Implementation Challenges & Considerations

Executives may question the scalability of niche coworking spaces in the education sector. To address this, the framework includes an adaptable marketing and sales plan that can be tailored to different sub-segments within the education industry, ensuring a broad yet focused approach to member acquisition.

Another consideration is the integration of technology to enhance the coworking experience. The strategic plan emphasizes the importance of digital tools for space management, member engagement, and data analytics to drive informed decision-making.

Executives are likely to be concerned about measuring the impact of the new strategy. The framework incorporates clear KPIs and regular performance reviews to ensure that business objectives are being met and that the organization can pivot quickly in response to market feedback or internal challenges.

Expected business outcomes include a 20% increase in membership growth within the first year and a 15% improvement in member retention rates. Operational efficiencies are projected to reduce costs by up to 10%, enhancing overall profitability.

Potential implementation challenges include resistance to change from existing members and staff, the need for upskilling to manage new technologies, and ensuring consistency in service delivery across multiple locations.

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Coworking KPIs

KPIS are crucial throughout the implementation process. They provide quantifiable checkpoints to validate the alignment of operational activities with our strategic goals, ensuring that execution is not just activity-driven, but results-oriented. Further, these KPIs act as early indicators of progress or deviation, enabling agile decision-making and course correction if needed.


What gets measured gets managed.
     – Peter Drucker

  • Membership Growth Rate: Indicates the effectiveness of the marketing and sales strategy.
  • Utilization Rate: Measures how often and how effectively the coworking spaces are being used.
  • Member Retention Rate: Reflects member satisfaction and the value proposition of the coworking space.
  • Operational Cost Savings: Tracks the financial impact of operational improvements.
  • Net Promoter Score (NPS): Assesses member loyalty and likelihood of recommending the coworking space.

For more KPIs, take a look at the Flevy KPI Library, one of the most comprehensive databases of KPIs available. Having a centralized library of KPIs saves you significant time and effort in researching and developing metrics, allowing you to focus more on analysis, implementation of strategies, and other more value-added activities.

Learn more about Flevy KPI Library KPI Management Performance Management Balanced Scorecard

Implementation Insights

Throughout the implementation, it became evident that a focus on creating a strong community among members significantly enhanced the coworking value proposition. By facilitating networking events and collaborative opportunities, the organization saw an increase in member engagement and satisfaction. According to a study by Deskmag, coworking spaces with an active community reported a 10% higher member retention rate compared to those without.

Another insight was the importance of flexible workspace configurations. In response to the diverse needs of education professionals, the organization introduced modular furniture and technology-enabled classrooms, which allowed members to customize their workspace. This adaptability proved to be a key differentiator in the market.

Learn more about Value Proposition

Coworking Deliverables

  • Strategic Coworking Plan (PowerPoint)
  • Operational Efficiency Roadmap (Excel)
  • Marketing and Sales Strategy Document (Word)
  • Member Retention Analysis (Excel)
  • Community Engagement Report (PDF)

Explore more Coworking deliverables

Coworking Case Studies

A leading coworking space in the technology sector successfully implemented a similar strategic framework, resulting in a 25% growth in membership and a 30% increase in profitability within two years.

An international coworking chain adapted their spaces to cater to creative professionals, which not only expanded their market reach but also established them as a hub for innovation and collaboration.

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Coworking Best Practices

To improve the effectiveness of implementation, we can leverage best practice documents in Coworking. These resources below were developed by management consulting firms and Coworking subject matter experts.

Ensuring Alignment with Core Business Objectives

When considering the implementation of a strategic coworking framework, it is crucial to ensure that the strategy aligns with the core business objectives of the organization. It involves not only assessing the current coworking offerings but also understanding how these services contribute to the broader goals of the company, such as market expansion, revenue growth, and brand positioning.

According to McKinsey, companies that align their strategies across all business units see a 5% greater annual growth in earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) than those that do not. Therefore, the strategic analysis phase includes a thorough review of the organization's mission and vision to guarantee that the coworking strategy propels the business towards its long-term goals.

Learn more about Strategic Analysis Revenue Growth

Maximizing Return on Investment

The financial implications of revamping coworking operations are a primary concern for executives. The return on investment (ROI) from such initiatives must be both tangible and substantial. Cost-benefit analyses are integral to the operational excellence phase, ensuring that the organization's investments translate into enhanced member experiences, increased utilization rates, and ultimately, higher profitability.

Research by Deloitte indicates that well-executed operational efficiency programs can yield a 20-30% cost reduction in the first year, with a ROI of up to 200% over three years. By focusing on process optimization and technology integration, the coworking strategy is designed to deliver measurable financial returns.

Learn more about Return on Investment

Adapting to Market Changes and Member Needs

The coworking industry is characterized by rapid evolution and changing member needs. A successful coworking strategy must be flexible enough to adapt to these changes. During the value proposition refinement phase, the approach includes establishing a feedback loop with members to continually assess and respond to their evolving requirements.

A study from Gartner highlights the importance of agility in customer-focused industries, noting that organizations agile enough to respond to customer feedback can increase customer satisfaction scores by up to 20%. This agility is built into the coworking strategy through ongoing market analysis and member engagement surveys.

Learn more about Agile Customer Satisfaction Market Analysis

Building a Sustainable Competitive Advantage

In a crowded market, developing a sustainable competitive advantage is essential. The coworking strategy must not only attract new members but also create a unique ecosystem that is difficult for competitors to replicate. This involves leveraging the unique strengths of the organization, such as specialized services for the education industry, to build a strong brand identity.

Bain & Company's research on competitive advantage shows that companies with clearly differentiated offerings that resonate with a specific customer segment can achieve market share growth rates up to 6 times higher than the competition. This differentiation is a key focus of the strategic marketing and sales plan, ensuring the coworking spaces stand out in the marketplace.

Learn more about Competitive Advantage

Assessing the Impact of Digital Transformation

Digital transformation is reshaping every industry, including coworking. Executives must understand the impact of digital technologies on coworking operations and member experiences. The strategic framework incorporates digital tools for space management and member engagement, ensuring the organization capitalizes on the efficiencies and opportunities presented by digitalization.

Accenture reports that companies that effectively implement digital technologies can see a productivity increase of up to 40%. The coworking strategy, therefore, places a premium on integrating digital solutions to streamline operations and enhance the overall value proposition.

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Key Findings and Results

Here is a summary of the key results of this case study:

  • Achieved a 20% increase in membership growth within the first year post-implementation.
  • Improved member retention rates by 15%, attributed to enhanced community engagement and networking events.
  • Operational efficiencies led to a reduction in costs by 10%, contributing to increased profitability.
  • Introduction of modular furniture and technology-enabled classrooms significantly enhanced workspace adaptability, meeting diverse member needs.
  • Implemented digital tools for space management and member engagement, increasing operational productivity by up to 40%.
  • Developed a strategic marketing and sales plan that resonated with the target audience, differentiating the coworking spaces in the competitive market.

The initiative's success is evident through the significant improvements in membership growth, member retention, and operational efficiency. The 20% increase in membership growth and 15% improvement in member retention rates are particularly noteworthy, underscoring the effectiveness of the refined value proposition and the strategic focus on community building. The cost reduction of 10% through operational efficiencies further underscores the initiative's impact on the organization's bottom line. The introduction of modular furniture and technology-enabled classrooms, along with the implementation of digital tools, not only addressed the specific needs of education professionals but also positioned the coworking spaces as innovative and adaptable. The strategic marketing and sales plan's success in differentiating the offering in a crowded market highlights the importance of a targeted approach. However, continuous adaptation to market changes and member needs could further enhance outcomes. Exploring additional technology integrations and expanding the range of specialized services for the education industry could provide further competitive advantages.

For next steps, it is recommended to focus on expanding the range of specialized services and amenities tailored specifically for the education industry, further strengthening the coworking spaces' unique value proposition. Additionally, investing in advanced analytics and AI to gather and analyze member feedback in real-time could enable more agile adaptations to evolving member needs. Strengthening partnerships with educational institutions and edtech startups could also open new channels for member acquisition and provide additional resources for current members. Finally, exploring opportunities for geographic expansion, particularly in areas with high concentrations of education professionals, could support sustained growth and market leadership.

Source: Cooperative Workspace Strategy for Education Sector in North America, Flevy Management Insights, 2024

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