August 28, 2018
In this edition of ‘Future of Work,’ Kayley DiCicco, National Corporate Accounts Manager at Novel Coworking (formerly Level Office) shares more about her company’s evolution and how they are leading the industry into the future of flexible work.
Kayley also touches upon how Novel Coworking’s unique business model has helped it become the largest owner-operator of shared office space in the US.
Helping clients write their own stories
As a company we’ve grown from one to 23 locations in 18 cities nationwide spanning over 1.61 million square feet of real estate. In that time we’ve come to realize that our narrative isn’t just our own, it’s comprised of the thousands of unique stories of our clients. The stories of their first hires, their growth, their expansions, their achievements, etc.
In fact, the constant flow of innovative clients in to our space, whether freelancers, startups or Fortune 500s, means our identity is always novel. We wouldn’t have created a story of our own if it weren’t for our members and we’re thrilled they’ve chosen to make us part of theirs. That’s why our new name, Novel Coworking more accurately represents who we are and where we want to take the business.
Carving a niche
Initially when we started with Level, we provided offerings for one to 20 person teams, similar to other coworking brands. We soon realized that as companies evolve and grow over time, they would grow out of the coworking model and look for more permanent space in the form of more traditional offices.
That’s why we decided to modify our offering in favor of a multi-office suite framework which is a hybrid between the coworking and the traditional space model. By doing so, not only did we accommodate our existing clientele of fast-scaling companies, but we were able to carve out a niche and target medium to large companies who needed and wanted the best of both worlds.
Since we’re the owner-operators of our buildings, we were able to quickly roll out these changes at lower costs and support our clients over multiple growth stages – anywhere from one all the way up to 100 employees in each suite. This model appealed to all of our clientele, especially larger corporations that are trying to enter new markets since they usually start with agile and small teams. That’s why our spaces’ plug and play capabilities particularly attracts them.
Building a playbook
There was a learning curve, as there is with every startup in the beginning stages of building a sustainable business model, but we have fine tuned the playbook by targeting prime locations in urban hubs.
I would boil down this playbook into three important lessons. Firstly, hiring the right people is key to a company’s success and growth. Secondly making decisions with your members in mind is just as important. Thirdly, you have to trust in your business model and stay unfazed by others in the industry. That’s how our team has been able to build out, tailor and customize unique spaces for entrepreneurs and enterprise companies that other coworking providers can’t match.
Some other monikers of our success include our commitment to finding all types of markets with growing communities whether it is in secondary or tertiary cities. In fact, you won’t find us in New York or San Francisco quite yet, because one, our business model may not have allowed for it at the time since we buy our buildings. And second, we may have felt that the market in those cities were overpriced and saturated.
In search of greater flexibility
I’ve seen a lot over the past 5 years at Novel; the remote worker has been elevated to a new level of acceptance in the working world. The days of sitting in a cubicle from 9am to 5pm are slowly drifting in the rear view mirror and business owners are pivoting in a changing workspace environment.
Another trend I’m noticing is that accessible technology is vastly becoming the heartbeat of any coworking space. The equipment and platforms for these systems are still being refined but will have broader acceptance as time progresses. I also believe that there will be more tools developed that yield insights on which spaces truly bring value to tenants.
One other trend that particularly intrigues me is virtual reality. VR could allow prospects to truly experience a space without having to tour it initially – allowing for a faster close. VR could also facilitate virtual working environments. Having said all of that, I think people still rely on and value in-person interactions to get answers which is why reliable community managers are crucial for coworking spaces.
In summary, it’s my belief that the future of work is split. Fundamentally it will be unchanged as companies seek to fulfill basic customer needs. But, as employees seek jobs that are more challenging and rewarding, the methods of work and types of jobs are likely to be dramatically different than what is available today. Our workspaces must continually evolve to meet the demands of the workforce, and this is what is most exciting about the future of work – the continual change.