Bond Collective is a boutique-style coworking brand with 11 locations in five U.S. markets, and three more spaces set to open soon. With a specialty in hospitality and design, each space is modeled to represent its community with a luxurious, exclusive feel. Shlomo Silber is co-founder and CEO of Bond Collective and he spoke to us about the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic and how using Yardi Kube has helped the brand come out of this challenge in a better position. Warren Hersowitz, Yardi regional manager, hosted the discussion.
Warren Hersowitz: Where do you see the coworking industry headed in the next 12-18 months, and in the next 3-5 years?
Shlomo Silber: I think in the immediate months it’s a survival game, everyone is doing whatever they can to drum up new business and keep their existing members happy while we figure out how to get through this pandemic. I think once we do get through this and people are more comfortable coming back to [the] office, I do think they are going to come back in droves. That’s something we’re really excited about and we really believe is great for the industry and for our company.
The next 3-5 years is [where] we’ve always envisioned this industry as a whole:…it will take a large portion of the commercial lease market and people will be looking a lot more for plug and play, ready-to-use space.
WH: What is the current state of operations for Bond?
SS: It’s the same for [Bond] as most operators. We have to keep members safe and comfortable in our environments. That starts with the little things like more cleaning, hand sanitizers, lowering occupancy in conference rooms, everyone wearing masks in common areas. We’ve implemented those changes and we’re learning as we go as more people come back into the space.
WH: Have your future plans been altered by the pandemic?
SS: We were in the driving force of a growing phase and we had to take a step back, take a look at where we are as a company and stabilize our business as a whole. We chose to make sure our existing locations were successful first, and as we come out of the pandemic, we’ll reevaluate our growth plans. The pandemic has actually offered us an opportunity to look at all different types of companies that may not have come into our sector before, but now they will because they were forced to work remotely and they see they can be successful working remote. We’ll look at suburban markets, as well, where we see that people may not be inclined to hop on a train and head into the city, [preferring to] work closer to home. The pandemic has given us a chance to look at this market from a different angle.
WH: How different is your outlook for the industry and for Bond specifically compared to what you had thought prior to this past March?
SS: In the beginning we were all looking at center city marketplaces with high growth and I think now we’re realizing people may want to work closer to home. Following the route of our Brooklyn locations, for example, could be a bit smarter. Maybe we can aim for something right outside of the city, because companies may want a satellite location but still be close to the city. We have to take a smarter approach to growth overall. It has been a positive experience in terms of stepping back and looking at how we’re growing and analyze each little facet of our business and reanalyze it.
WH: How do you feel members and operators will use technology moving forward to combat the effects of the pandemic?
SS: Imagine this pandemic without all the virtual tools out there right now. Imagine this pandemic in the late 90’s, for example. It would be a very, very different world. It would have meant a lot more of a stop to the entire climate of work. A lot is based on technology. We’re on this Zoom meeting right now while I’m in my backyard and you’re home in Miami. That shows us how important technology platforms are and how important user-friendly platforms are for our business.
WH: What were the driving factors behind the decision to switch to Yardi Kube and how has Kube helped members in this unique time period?
SS: From an operations standpoint, the platform is much easier for us to run our spaces and control our managers. We have a lot more control and a lot more visibility to what’s going on in each space. We can easily add or remove services when needed and get business more automated and work through those processes. This is another form of technology that has been really helpful for our business.
Kube has been great because of how much we can manage remotely. Troubleshooting is much easier and the Yardi team has always been very responsive to any questions we may have. Being able to address issues ourselves or with Yardi’s help is great. For our managers, they can easily reset passwords for members, troubleshoot phones, manage Wi-Fi or anything else from the comfort of their homes. They may be stuck at home, but it does not affect functionality at all. We hop on the Yardi platform and make any changes or switches we need. That really was essential to us in the height of the pandemic, but even now when spaces aren’t completely full.