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The rise of coliving: how PropTech can help operators cultivate community

From flexible leases and luxury amenities to central city locations and eco-designed spaces, there are many strings to coliving’s bow, but none more so than community. Although the coliving movement was growing pre-pandemic, Covid-enforced lockdowns - and in some cases, isolation - has accelerated consumers’ desire to live, work and interact together in new ways. Coliving operators have witnessed an influx of new enquiries - for example, Common saw monthly registrations of interest grow by 50% during the pandemic - from a broader range of demographics - such as higher-earners in their 40s that could afford to live comfortably on their own - further underlining operators’ need to cultivate community to stand out from the crowd. Luckily, PropTech has got your back. 

  1. Bringing people together

Living together is not coliving. In a recent res:harmonics-sponsored webinar on the evolution of coliving, Ben Prevezer, CEO and Co-Founder of wellbeing-focused coliving operator Mason & Fifth, said that “simply by virtue of having a building that people live in together doesn’t create a community, you need to be knitting that community together”. Well, technology is the needle that allows operators to thread the community they want. 

It’s how you communicate your offering to your ideal demographic. It’s how you remove barriers for resident interaction with keyless access. It’s how you organise group events both inside and outside the building and how residents can book classes, suggest workshops and run their own sessions. Whether through targeted channel management or via interactive resident apps, PropTech enables operators to bring together like-minded individuals that form the basis of a vibrant and active community. 

  1. Providing seamless services

A rooftop bar, a wellness spa, a cinema room. Wonderful amenities, certainly, but add technology into the mix and they become wonderful services that forge strong connections between residents. Holding cocktail-making courses on Thursdays with recipes and photos shared on the app. Registering for a group nutrition class on Tuesday evening on the commute back from work. Hosting Sunday night film club with residents able to make movie suggestions and chat about that scene on the sofas afterwards. 

From scrolling down the week’s activities on their phone to giving residents the means to transform amenities into something of their own creation, technology gives both operators and residents the tools to organically develop the community. 

  1. Maximising operational control

Away from the glamourous end of services and amenities, community-building actually starts with registration processes. A revolving door policy of 2-3 day stays is unlikely to form a lasting community. Nor is a building that involves multiple locks, where the experiences are repetitive and the amenities are tired and constantly under repair. 

On the flip side, giving residents the ability to extend their stay month by month via the touch of a button and offering long-stay discounts will encourage residents to stay longer and help the community grow stronger. Using up-to-the minute data reporting on activity usage will enable operators to gauge resident preferences, so they can create engaging, interactive experiences with a high take-up. And thanks to an operations app - whereby operators can log and track maintenance issues and monitor housekeeping remotely, for instance - coliving management will have more time to focus on these community-building projects. 

Make a splash in a crowded pool

There is an expectation that the coliving sector will branch out into a hotel-style market with a wide pool of offerings delivering amazing services and flexible living. So to make a splash, operators need something that money can’t buy and developers can’t install: a unique and lively community. 

Given coliving is all about making life easier - no bills, no utility set-up, no long term leases - and coliving technology is all about making coliving operations easier, operators should dive into the community-building prowess of PropTech (ahem, especially those specifically-designed for coliving operators). 

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