The term "co-living" may refer to a several different realities but all connected to an idea of sharing living spaces. For some it is a new trend, on the rise but still very young, that is going through the international real estate market. For others it is a reality that is already very concrete, represented by the student houses (PBSA), where many young people share spaces and everyday life, creating vibrant communities.
In this brief guide we will address the issue of efficiency and security of these realities. May it be student houses, a well-run business model that faces the need to renew itself, or instead realities representing the most advanced trends in real estate investments.
SPACE SHARING AND BUSINESS
Life in a co-living space has the features of community life, a community of the digital age. Digital communities that gather the protagonists of the modern sharing economy who manage everyday life through digital tools (first of all the smartphone). From digital natives (or millennials) to digital nomads (working on the move), the target of companies that offer sharing economy structures is a young population, in rapid movement (often due to work or study needs, already used to co-working), costs aware, and accustomed to smart interaction models. A business that addresses this target must certainly consider a very fluid public, but at the same time a demanding customer base with respect to the standards of the modern market. Here are 3 features needed for a co-living space, whatever its destination.
- All services included : from room cleaning services, to appliances, to social events, everything must be easily available
- Comfort and safety: safety is essential to feel at home, and spaces must be comfortable to live and reach
- Flexibility: co-living must be able to accommodate multiple different lifestyles, and promptly respond to every and each one of them
SHARED SPACES BUSINESS
The most attractive areas for co-living are certainly the western metropolises and the large urban areas that are growing in the East. In these areas concentrates the larger population of millennials due to the working opportuinites (or studing opportunities) and for their inclination to urban lifestyles. City centers gather students and young dynamic workers looking for modern services that can meet their needs. The first challenge for a company that wants to offer a successful co-living is therefore to have the resources to get and manage a space in the center of a city like Milan or New York, where costs are the highest in the world. But also where the market is more active and there is the largest interest in new housing solutions. The very careful management of resources and offering is crucial to be successful in this area, combining flexibility and a flow of revenues that allows the company to solidly grow. Here are the fundamental components in the co-living business:
- A comfortable structure with private rooms, suitable common areas (kitchen, relaxation area) and all kinds of services (from laundry to the gym)
- Careful and flexible management of resources and guests
- Well-designed and efficient maintenance processes
THE VERY CAREFUL MANAGEMENT OF RESOURCES AND OFFERS IS CRUCIAL FOR CO-LIVING
OPTIMIZE CO-LIVING AND STUDENT HOUSING COSTS
Optimizing co-living and student housing costs is therefore mandatory to create a business that is sustainable in a landscape of growing costs: through a model based on subscriptions, these companies must at least cover the costs of renting the structures, the costs of operations and maintenance (from cleaning services to furniture renewal). However, developing other sales strategies beyond the classic subscription is the key to increasing the company's profitability. To imagine new solutions it is first necessary to understand well what needs a co-living responds to.
WHAT NEEDS ARE SATISFIED BY CO-LIVINGS
Co-livings must respond to a dynamic lifestyle, smart by definition, with all the commercial features requested by sharing economy: subscriptions that can be easily opened and be easily closed, access to single services when the user deems them necessary, interaction through smartphone, and so on. Those who choose a co-living also choose all the included services, in order not to have to worry about the cleaning of their spaces, the management of utilities (internet is always included!), and of all the bureaucracy linked to owning or renting an house. Those who choose a co-living are often concentrated in challenging activities, such as study or work, and want to minimize interruptions due to everyday life. Furthermore, as already mentioned, community life is a factor not to be underestimated: from the students who want to live university life to the full, to professionals who wish to share their experiences with other stimulating and dynamic people.
- Sharing resources and spaces allows you to live better and in better areas at more attractive prices, co-living cannot ignore the sharing economy standards
- In the case of student houses, it should also be considered the opportunity to live within the academic environment, co-living must support the growth of autonomous communities, facilitating freedom of movement and interaction
- A co-living is not forever, it must provide tools of payment and access for a generation that does not embrace a sedentary lifestyle and does not want to tie itself to the ownership or prolonged rental of a house
- Especially paired with co-working, co-living supports a dynamic, cosmopolitan and smart life, guests must be able to access resources when they need them, be able to book them, and be informed about their availability at any time
BUSINESS MODELS AND REVENUES FOR CO-LIVINGS
The average stay in a co-living usually covers a medium or long period, and it is therefore better regulated by a subscription plan. The subscription formula is also preferred because the guest does not only buy spaces, but also a set of included services. We have seen how this is closely connected to the reason why co-living is preferred to traditional solutions: those who prefer to live in such an environment just need to worry about paying their monthly subscription fee, everything else comes included. Tool are needed that can adapt to the different offers every single structure designs for itself, to create subscription profiles that satisfy the different guests needs. Digitalization is a key component to support all these business models, to manage access to facilities and to the individual rooms with smart instruments is decisive for a sustainable business. These structures must be able to welcome new the guests permissions with simplicity, to free the rooms of those who leave without problems, and to always have spaces under securely control. The virtualization of the keys, namely the conversion of keys into virtual credentials, allows to simplify and accelerates all these processes securely. The virtual keys operates according to the assigned permissions, can be updated in real time, and allow trasactions for purchasing additional services. From the opening of the doors (external or of single rooms) to the more complex interactions with the services offered by the structures, everything can be done with the common smartphone.
CO-LIVING MANAGEMENT AND MAINTENANCE
Co-livings need an advanced management systems, cloud access control is one of them. A few examples are enough to understand how this technology allows to achieve the degree of efficiency and quality necessary to successfully complete a series of fundamental processes.
CONNECTED ACCESS CONTROL SYSTEM
When a new user signs a co-living subscription contract, the cloud access control system is able to generate a personal key that is right away delivered to the user's mobile phone (and / or activates an assigned badge). From that moment on the new guest will be able to access his rooms, common areas, or any other service with a simple interaction on his mobile phone, an interaction integrated with all the systems of the structure.
BUILDING SECURITY MANAGEMENT
Virtual keys are personal and tracked, all entries are recorded and the log is always available to the manager. It is thus possible to guarantee the security of the structures remotely and in real time, for example by revoking the access authorization with a simple click.
DYNAMIC SERVICE MANAGEMENT
With a cloud access control system the management of service personnel becomes an easy and rapid operation. Collaborators are provided with special credentials to access where necessary when their service is required. Physical keys or tokens, that can be lost or have to be confiscated in some way in case of emergency, are no longer needed.
CO-LIVINGS AND ACCESS CONTROL VIRTUALIZATION
Choosing the right access control service is crucial for these companies, not only to guarantee the safety and accessibility of the spaces, but also to be able to offer an always competitive service, and to be able to develop new lines of business.
A DIGITAL ECOSYSTEM
Access control is at the center of a housing structure, just think about the importance of home keys in everyday life. Virtualized keys multiply their relevance by multiplying their functionalities: in addition to being the means of access home, they are a communication tool between the user and the company. Through his personal account the user can access other shared resources (from the simple locker to services such as gyms or canteens). Around the access control system in cloud it is possible to create a digital ecosystem that proposes to the user a great variety of services, distributed in a virtually infinite geographical area. A company that offers services all over the world (smart hospitality in different cities) can provide the user with a single digital identity with which to interact and access all the spaces, wherever they are.
THE CO-LIVINGS FUTURE
Around a solid and compatible access control service it is possible to build an articulated offer that allows the company to grow and retain its users. Through the App to access their rooms, the user can also book other resources, interact with the spaces, and purchase other services. In short, a whole virtual space is created, a twin of real space, where guests can find services and manage their daily life at ease.
MOST COMMON CO-LIVINGS TYPES
The considered structures can have the most diverse features, but we can identify three main types of co-living.
THE STUDENT HOUSE
Student houses are well established realities that play a very important role in the academic life of millions of students around the world. However, the increasing mobility rate of young people for studing purposes is rising the demand for accommodation facilities for this segment. New student residences are born in all the major cities, and those already existing are renewed to welcome the new generations and keep up with market standards. In the real estate sector, these structures are referred to by the name of PBSA (Purpose Built Student Accommodation), and mark growth trends practically all over the world.
CO-LIVING AND CO-WORKING
Co-working has revolutionized the concept of working space: many professionals today choose them as favorite places to carry out their activities, and many companies have decided to move some of their teams into these structures. In these environments work is surrounded by opportunities of sharing knowledge, updating events, and enjoyable occasions. So many people have therefore become accustomed to working in a smart way, being able to move from city to city knowing they will find in each one a branded structure of their favorite co-working, with all the services and the spaces at their disposal. To meet the needs of these young professionals, cutting-edge co-living are born, they reduce the living costs in the most active and expensive areas of the cities and, at the same time, offers flexibility for those who prefer limited periods of stay, lasting some months or maybe an year.
The international real estate market is paying more and more attention to the co-living trend, and there are already realities that offer smart branded living spaces in different cities across the globe. The same offer, a single subscription, to access co-livings located around the focal points of the world economy. These companies respond to the needs of the digital age working population, always on the move, looking for something more than "cold" hotels. In these cases, technology is the enabling factor: a single system that manages customers all over the world, and guarantees access to the spaces and services purchased. For companies that provide their services in different cities, such as in different countries or continents, cloud solutions are a key technological components for business competitiveness and sustainability.
CLOUD-BASED ACCESS CONTROL SYSTEM FOR STUDENT HOUSES AND CO-LIVING
Sofia Locks designs and develops the access control system designed for business: we already serve companies around the world with plug & play solutions or customized systems. Luckey is our product designed for companies that want to speed up the management of space, personnel, and customers, while increasing security. Sofia Locks systems adapt to any structure and support the company's preferred business models. Thanks to cloud technology and smart locks, it is possible to secure entire structures without complex interventions on doors and walls. A single system can also manage spaces located even in different cities or countries, scaling with the size of the company: the same access control system can serve offices all over the world and offer guests the same access experience with a single account.
- Simple installation: online access control without laying a single cable
- No limits: a single system can manage an unlimited number of structures anywhere in the world
- Flexibility for business: a system designed to adapt to the needs of the business and to grow with it
Download the co-living guide
Real estate is in a phase of strong transformation, the changing needs of customers, increasingly turning to flexible and mobile-first "as-a-service" offers, combined with the enabling possibilities of new technologies, have led to real estate operators to rethink the way they present themselves on the market.