A Dutch coworking space has come up with a complex investment system which eventually allows members to rent or sell their lifetime coworking membership. Is this just a niche novelty, or could it be the perfect solution to the gig economy?
What’s the idea?
We live in a gig economy, and that fact shows no sign of going away anytime soon. One of the responses to our changing working practices has been the rise of coworking spaces as an ideal option for freelancers, start-ups or businesses without the need for all staff to work from a single centralized office. However, coworking spaces can vary greatly in terms of the facilities on offer and the price of membership – and many are beginning to distinguish themselves in an interesting way.
Now a Dutch start-up is making headlines with its innovative attempt to transform coworking from a standard rental arrangement into a community-based ecosystem. At Primalbase, a lifetime membership is acquired in the form of one Primal Base Token (PBT), at the cost of three bitcoins. This token can then be shared, rented or sold when not in use so that it can continue to generate profit. Primalbase describes their tokens as a sort of virtual currency, with which members are investing in a form of real estate – the coworking space itself – and reap their own personal returns. The first release of PBT’s proved to be a success, with the entire stock selling out in 24 hours.
So is this the future of coworking?
The speed at which Primalbase’s initial run of tokens sold proves that the idea has potential. However, the concept will need to be significantly streamlined and finessed if it is to prove an enduring success. Although Primalbase is developing an app to facilitate the transaction of PBTs, much about the project remains in early stages – there is currently no finalized regulatory framework and little in the way of legal precedents should dispute arise.
Primalbase will also need to prove that the idea is scalable – so far they have just one space operating in Amsterdam, with another in Berlin ready to launch. Whether this second space can sustain the PBT system will give a clearer indication of its future.
What is much clearer is the upward trend of coworking, both as an industry and as a popular choice of working practice. Over a million of us are predicted to be working out of one during 2018. This rapid growth has seen a range of innovative new ideas jostling to be the next big thing in coworking – from Spacious’s repurposing of empty New York restaurants into a prime workspace, to the flexible membership packages and free café workspace of The Brew, an independent coworking space in East London. Coworking office environments are even being adopted by global corporations – the multinational KPMG rent out space in New York, while Amazon’s new UK headquarters have evidently been designed with many coworking features in mind.
While it remains to be seen if this trend will come to dominate the scene in the long-term, the variety and inventiveness on display throughout the coworking industry can only be viewed as a positive thing. As more of us operate out of coworking spaces, we may well have a vast and growing number of specialized options to choose from.
Daniel Moore is an experienced content writer by profession and he mainly writes on different aspects of business from business start-ups to expansion.