#RoadTo2021: Marketing strategies for flexible workspaces

Vineet Singh

WeWork’s Vineet Singh shares marketing strategies that flexible workspaces can deploy to increase brand awareness and trust post-pandemic.

2020 has been an exceptionally challenging year for us all. Businesses all over have been impacted, and we’ve witnessed new ways of working to create a sense of normalcy. Flexible workspaces have always been an ideal environment for entrepreneurs, startups and SMEs, and freelancers, and this trend will continue to post the COVID-19 crisis, with brands stepping up their marketing strategies for effect.

Despite multiple setbacks, the flexible workspace industry has banded together, and the industry is poised to see growth through the beginning of the new year, a trend that will continue in 2021. In the new year, we will see more enterprises and companies of various sizes moving their operations to co-working spaces, which will spur the next wave of growth in this sector. 

Safety & Hygiene Takes Forefront

Though we will witness a positive growth sentiment, we foresee certain challenges in the flexible workspace industry.

In 2021, the foremost challenge will be to optimise costs for all services, without compromising on the health & safety of workspaces.

At the moment, hygiene and safety practices are at the forefront of all brand communications and it will be necessary for all coworking players to continue to emphasise the care and precautions taken to deliver a safe working environment.

Marketing efforts will be focused on social media campaigns highlighting these safety measures, company emails to all members explaining safety precautions, and video demonstrations during our tours. Various flexible workspace players have been able to showcase their health precautions through constant member communication and high health and safety standards. This includes rearranging of furniture, factoring social distancing measures, and also taking into account the apprehension that new members might have. This reassures members, employees, and stakeholders that brands are committed to their service and health.  

Digital is the Future

A principal factor in choosing a flexible workspace is the aspect of the community. Many flexible workspaces pride themselves on creating a network for their members, which has certainly disrupted due to new ways of working such as rostered work timings and social distancing.

The best way to tackle this is to continue to forge interactions, virtually and ensure communications from brands connect with consumers on a  human level. In this aspect, digital marketing and communications will be extremely relevant, and there will be higher adoption on platforms such as Zoom, LinkedIn, and more.

Creating a virtual community will be a defining trait in the success of a coworking business in 2021.

According to a recent study by RAI and Deloitte, millennials spend an average of 17 hours online every week. As marketers, brands in the industry must be aware of the accelerated shift witnessed towards the digital medium. So, I would say overall, in an evolved marketing strategy, digital will remain a dominant touchpoint going forward so as to drive communication to our target audience. 

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Consumer is the King. Personal Touch is a Must to Connect!

Linking to the above, another challenge that has always existed is “standing out” among the crowd.

As a key strategy in 2021, we will observe what sticks in the minds of consumers is stories that resonate with audiences. It has become even more important for brands to connect with their audience through campaigns inspired by real-life examples. 

Brands that have been quick enough to understand the shift in the consumer behaviour and other consumption patterns, implemented the same in their strategy creatively will be the winners of tomorrow.

“Consumers will be King” and marketing strategies, especially of flexible workspaces, will be focussed towards them. The millennial workforce is one that requires a high level of engagement and so it is necessary to keep campaigns interactive. Reaching out to them with relatable points of view, showcasing how we see their problems and are offering them solutions is the best way to move forward. Through relevant content around the realities of life, one can resonate and portray an authentic side to the brand, showcasing an understanding of human nature. 

Keeping these in mind we at WeWork organised a campaign, #PrideStreetofWe, which was a virtual pride parade, aimed at bringing people together during pride month. What’s important to note is that while these campaigns are not sales driven, they encourage positive reinforcement and leave a mark on people, which is what brings them back to your brand at the end of the day. 

To conclude, I would say that brands need to be ready to adapt to any changes that might come their way, and need to focus upon building a connection with the consumer based on identifying the evolving needs. The core strategy for brands should be to shift to digital, and figure out the best way to build a  robust digital presence. For any smart and future-thinking business, engaging with members and audiences through the use of well thought out creative content strategies is the need of the hour, and will continue to set a precedent in the coming year. 

This piece has been authored by Vineet Singh, Head of Brand & Marketing, WeWork India.