Initially considered ephemeral offices, as they are used for a few hours a day or a week, some spaces today tend to become truly ephemeral. And for good reason, the occasion makes the thief! These spaces are created according to the current events and to accompany specific events like Roland Garros, or to make speak about them and create the event following the example of the partnership led between the Anticafé and the brand Perrier Energize. In addition, at a time of mixed spaces and the intensification of uses within the same environment, coworking spaces appear as one of the emerging solutions to accompany new or renovated real estate projects. Explanation of the phenomenon and description of some of these atypical but up-and-coming spaces.

Ephemeral coworking spaces: what needs do they cover?

Ephemeral coworking spaces are multifaceted and their treatment depends on their purpose.

In fact, it is important to differentiate these alternative spaces, which can be of four kinds:

  • Spaces co-created from scratch in connection with a specific cultural or sporting event
  • Coworking spaces that transform to don a brand's colors for the duration of an event
  • Longer-term ephemeral spaces that come to occupy unoccupied spaces
  • The ephemeral coworking spaces that come to respond to an emergency situation

If the first two are created to provide an experience and break the usual codes of coworking spaces, the other two come to respond more to political and economic structuring considerations. Indeed, these ephemeral coworking spaces are envisioned in the form of a win-win partnership for territories that see them as a good way to energize their neighborhoods and recreate value where citizens express the desire to do so, or to respond to a need for temporary occupation of a site. Calling on this form of transitional urbanism is also an opportunity for local governments and elected officials to control the occupation of their land. Thus, it is no longer uncommon to see land temporarily occupied by coworking spaces during the phase preceding the launch of work on a program or site.

For the companies that house their employees there, it is also a win-win operation since these sites generally benefit from a prime location.

Finally, the last typology of coworking spaces mentioned referred to emergency assistance, comes to offer a solution to problems deemed temporary. This is, for example, the case of the city of Mantes la Jolie, which in 2018 had put all its forces to deploy an ephemeral coworking space to its inhabitants during the end-of-year transport strikes. The Agora of the City Hall was thus transformed into a reception space. Similarly during the periods of confinement due to the covid crisis, initiatives have multiplied on the territory.

The collective interest cooperative Urban Plateau, works particularly in this sense and is positioned on the development of temporary urbanism solutions.

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Marked and winning ephemeral coworking operations

An ephemeral coworking space at the Parc des Princes

It was in September 2021 that WOJO had offered to Parisian teleworkers passionate about soccer, an ephemeral coworking space in the mythical Parc des Princes. In partnership with the Paris Saint Germain, this pilot space created for 4 days took up the challenge with flying colors and the places sold out "as fast as the tickets to see Lionel Messi play his first match" according to the organizers. Offices and meeting spaces were organized in the VIP lounges and dressing rooms, offering an unobstructed view of the Park's lawns. An operation that Stéphane Bensimon, CEO of the brand, planned to repeat in other European countries.

This operation allowed WOJO to both make a name for itself at a time when coworking centers have multiplied on the territory and competition has become tougher, and to affirm its ability to create the event for the members of its centers. For the Parc des Princes, this operation was an opportunity to make part of the costs of its spaces profitable.

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An operation renewed at Roland Garros by WOJO in 2022

Open from May 16 to 20, 2022 at the foot of the tennis courts of Roland Garros, an ephemeral coworking space signed by WOJO, in partnership with ACCOR, welcomed many nomadic workers in this other exceptional place. The opportunity to mix pleasure and fun with work and to ensure a meeting between two sets or tournaments. Taking the experience a step further, many additional services have been added to these spaces. Stéphane Bensimon confided to the columns of Hôtellerie Restauration that "At the beginning, 750 teleworking spaces were available, for a day or half-day. They were sold out in a few hours, so we added 500 more. We knew this offering would be successful, but we were surprised by how quickly the spots were booked."

What if this unique and limited offer became a full-fledged model that coworking brands would reserve for their premium members? The model is yet to be defined but looks promising.

Perrier Energize creates the event with its ephemeral coworking

It is within the Anticafé La Fayette in the 9th arrondissement of Paris that the fine bubbles brand has opened its ephemeral coworking space from May 16 to 20, 2022 (Hey yes, at the same time as the one mentioned above). This 100% free space for the duration of the event was entirely decked out in the colors of the brand, which took advantage of the opportunity to unveil its latest refreshing energy drink and create many moments of conviviality.

Many other brands are investing in coworking spaces to set up Pop-up stores or ephemeral shops following the example of the initiative carried out in 2015 by Le Petit Marseillais within CoWork and which has since been strongly duplicated.

As many partnerships are multiplying and are part of a visibility and differentiation strategy for coworking brands, which see it as an opportunity to offer their members new and experiential services. It is also for the invested spaces the opportunity to maximize the use of their m² and to really reconsider the space according to the needs. What if ephemeral coworking spaces actually assumed a strong societal and inclusive role?

Photo credit: Wojo

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