May 4, 2022
Coworking is changing.
It has evolved over the past decade from a largely foreign idea to a mainstream way of working. Today, coworking is positioned at the leading edge of workplace innovation.
As the coworking concept has gained traction, one trend we’re seeing is the establishment of more niche focused coworking spaces.
In this guide, we’ll take you through how to build a niche coworking space that best supports you and your members. Just opening a coworking space? Check out this guide to starting a coworking space.
What is a niche coworking space?
Niche coworking spaces are spaces that appeal to members with specific interests and focus on bringing like-minded people together.
Niche-seekers are looking for more than just a space that fits their functional needs – they’re looking for their tribe.
Examples of niche coworking spaces include:
- Female-only coworking spaces
- Coworking for LGBTQ+ Members
- Wellness focused spaces
- Coworking for tech startups
Creating a niche coworking space is an amazing opportunity to build a community around a set of shared values and interests.
What are the benefits of creating a coworking space niche?
Many coworking niches are founded because there is a unique need that is underserved in the market.
The benefits of setting your coworking space up as a niche include:
- Differentiates yourself in the market
- May be easier to build a community
- Increases member retention
- Creates deeper connections between and within members
- Offers additional value on top of what a traditional coworking space would offer
As an operator, focusing on a niche market and providing an experience tailored to specific needs can help you retain members for the long-term in a highly competitive market.
For members, niche coworking spaces can bring about a shared sense of belonging and community that is unlike anywhere else.
Examples of Niche Coworking Spaces
Steve Mohebi and Amir Mortazavi, Co-Founders of CANOPY, were wary that the majority of the coworking spaces in San Francisco did not host or attract the city’s mature professional crowd, like themselves.
That’s when they decided to fill the void and build a community targeted to accomplished, mature professionals. According to them, exchanging ideas and conversations between people in the same walks of life and with the same years of experience allowed for deeper connections.
Impact Hub is a coworking brand that inspires, connects and enables people across the world to sustainably impact society.
When it first opened its doors in 2005, it was the first social impact-focused coworking brand. They have since scaled to over 100 cities, supporting over 16,000 members around the world.
Co-warehousing is an emerging coworking trend that is quickly gaining popularity across the US.
Optix client, Shedpoint, is more than a coworking space. It is a community for people in need of warehousing facilities to access the resources they need for their businesses to thrive.
This guide takes you through everything you need to know about co-warehousing and how to create a space that fulfills these unique needs.
3 Steps to Creating a Niche Coworking Space
In order to successfully start and grow a niche coworking space, you’ll need to do some homework to decide on which niche to serve.
Here are three steps you can follow to identify a coworking niche:
1. Identify a unique need in the coworking market
Many niche coworking space founders start out by understanding a gap in the market and identifying an opportunity to attract an otherwise underserved group.
Some popular ways that we see people building a niche for their coworking space is by:
- Market sector or industry: AI and Blockchain focused spaces
- Profession: spaces targeted towards lawyers or realtors
- Business Type: social enterprises, non-profits
- Ways of Working: makerspaces
Use these ideas as a jumping off point to start thinking about what your niche could be.
2. Research your market
Identifying a unique need also means doing your research.
If you’re an indie game maker and would like to open a coworking space for other indie game-makers, you need to assess whether there would be a sufficient level of demand for this concept.
To kick off your market research look at indicators such as:
- Location – will this niche be well-served in this location
- Niche group size – is there a big enough market for this community
- Feasibility of idea – how likely is it that I can make this happen
Understanding legislative and other socio-economic events could also be an opportunity for you to consider.
For example you could open a coworking space for cannabis startups in Canada following the legalization of marijuana or open an AI-focused coworking space in a city after the local government invests in AI research.
Pro Tip: Use online communities to help you get an idea of your potential market size. See how popular your community is on different digital platforms including LinkedIn, Twitter, Reddit, Instagram, and more.
3. Deliver superior value
When serving a niche market, it is still important to understand the competitive landscape of the coworking industry in your area.
You will want to consider:
- Where the other coworking spaces are located
- What markets they serve
- How your offering stacks up against each of theirs
If the competition is serving the same community you are looking to serve in the same location, try to identify what you can do to create a superior offering than your competitors.
Through this exercise, you will better understand how to fulfill the needs of your niche market.
This could be for example providing additional programming and resources (similar to what an accelerator and/or incubator may provide). Alternatively, you could also consider collaborating with a competitor to offer joint value to your coworking community through a multi-brand alliance.
A final note on creating a coworking niche
Not investing time on market research and thinking through your decision to niche can be costly.
The natural pitfall to serving a niche community is that your offering will appeal to a smaller segment of the total market.
If there is competition in place, it will be that much harder to fight for an already narrowed target market. That’s why, in the niche coworking space, it’s advantageous to be novel and establish a first-mover advantage
By going through the above exercise, you will be able to carve out a path for delivering true value to your current and future members.
If you succeed in creating a space that meets the unique needs of your niche audience, you’ll likely have more loyal members that are less likely to seek out alternative options and churn.
Learn more tactics to marketing your space in this guide to getting coworking clients.