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Coworking Churn Rates

06 Jan 2010
by Alex Hillman

Coworking is growing, and there’s no question about that. New spaces are opening to the tune of a few a week, and press coverage is anything but limited.

We’ve hit “trend” status, it seems, and a number of publications are taking notice.

Trends don’t just include positive growth, though, they include negative growth as well. While spaces are opening up and the coworking google group is humming with activity, I’m concerned about a number of spaces that are struggling to find break-even between their membership and their expenses.

Moreover, nobody is talking about the big R word that is normally saved for corporate human resource departments.

Retention.

Coworking spaces are jumping through all kinds of hoops to get people in the door. But are those people staying? Are they contributing? Are they collaborating as is suggested by most coworking literature?

What things are people staying for? Why are they leaving?

I’m currently working with our intern Parker on sifting through our 2009 numbers to produce some concrete numbers and data related to our retention rate. I’ve gone on record to say it’s been good, but have never been able to say how good.

My goal is to find concrete numbers relating our growth and our retention directly, and to interview people who’ve left or lowered their membership level to find out why. I hope that we can produce numbers for 2008 and the 2nd half of 2007 (while we were open), but our recordkeeping methods might make that difficult.

We need data.

This post is an open call for participation from other coworking spaces to do the same. In order to participate in my research, I’d like the following:

  1. A month-to-month assessment of membership counts, and what level of membership they pay for (full time, flex, etc).
  2. A month-to-month assessment of member exits, and any insight into what those exits were related to.
  3. A month-to-moth net gain of membership.
  4. A count of drop-ins that returned, and how often they’ve returned.

To speed things up, I’ve created a very basic one-year worksheet to get you started. You can download it as an .xls here.

The number of spaces that have been open for over 12 months is small, so I’m hard pressed to limit these responses to spaces that have made it beyond their first year. Instead, I’d like to suggest that you have at least six months of active membership under your belt in order to submit your statistics. The more data you have, the better, but I won’t turn anything down.

You can send your space’s stats using this handy dandy form.

Then what?

I’ll be publishing all of the results, along with our own results, openly and licensed under creative commons for mashing up, sharing, and inclusion in other coworking materials.

Thanks for your help and participation.

This will help make sure you can find the most useful resources. I respect your privacy & email. Absolutely no spam, and I won't ever share your data. Pinky promise! 🤞

Hey, thanks for reading!

Alex Hillman I am always thinking about the intersection of people, relationships, trust and business. I founded Indy Hall in 2006, making us one of oldest fully independent coworking communities in the world. This site is packed with the lessons and examples I’ve learned along the way. You can find me on Twitter, too! 🐦 Say hi.