The title of this post is based on an article from Fast Company: Here are the top tech trends of 2021, according to 30 experts. I am adding to the 30. Note I excluded any reference to myself as an expert – I abhor the term. I wouldn’t call myself an expert but I have been known to dabble in trends, past reports here and new one being worked on here. Anyway, it seems a good time of the year to chime in on this topic so read on to see my prediction.
My tech trend is based on a view that WeWork’s model is now more relevant than ever but it is going to go downstream to smaller operations and communities.
On the first point, my view is verified to some degree in this article: The pandemic could have crushed WeWork. It may have saved it instead.
The concept: rural co-working in style
As habits from the pandemic take hold I think remote work from home is going to continue regardless, as many other people also contend. So far so clear?
Apart from the fact that many people are going to get better at kitting out their home offices leading to increasing demand for home office equipment, there will be a rising need for coworking space close to home, is my contention. Hear me out further.
I’m well set up in my home office and have been for the last year with ever improving refinements. What I and many others yearn for is to be able to get back in touch with people in a physical environment (outside of those in your own home/bubble).
Assuming things go back to some form of normal and the work from home trend continues, there will be demand to get out of the house and close by. No problem if you work in a city where you would find a coworking space or café close by. Not so easy when you live in a smallish village like I do in the lush and verdant landscape of Hampshire in the United Kingdom – see video footage.
And many people increasingly want to, just do a search to see how many are trying to escape to the country. It’s also not isolated to the UK and these small communities are not well geared to serving this demand.
What I contend is that there will be more and more demand for space that can be used as well as the tech to support it and the various activities it can run. The space can be commercial or public. I volunteer in my local community and am part of a neighbourhood planning effort. We are looking at all options and as retailers are effected by the pandemic and ecommerce, more and more space is becoming available.
I’ve tried to capture what I am talking about in a concept site – check it out here. Its very much a work in progress. You’ll see a big emphasis on the lifestyle because good looking space with delicious offerings is a must for success. The space in the concept site is a great example (see the where section and that’s all it is by the way, an example). It’s a disused garage with lots of office space in a prime spot that the owner has left for another location. It’s now almost in danger of becoming derelict and could easily be repurposed.
Next I need to check out the tech, specifically the booking systems. I’m going to be looking at Microsoft technology since I work there (disclosure). This article covers instructions for the use of Microsoft’s Bookings tool. Or I could use the Building Access App template which is built for Teams. I already help the volunteer group with use of Microsoft Teams so will either extend this Team, create a new one or just use the App template based on Power Apps as a standalone App integrated into the site above. Or something entirely different.
Long story short and to reiterate: WeWorks model is coming to the countryside and will move into the hands of local community groups or small businesses. I’m building a custom solution for this, maybe some day there will be an out of the box solution if not already (needs further investigation).
I’ll be updating this post as I progress.