Evolve or Die - How Cohabs is Adapting Its Model

Member news | August 24, 2020

The FACC-NY network is composed of a diverse mosaic of talented, experienced, and open-hearted professionals united by a desire to share their knowledge, nurture meaningful connections and succeed professionally. In this #MemberInsights series, we invite a guest member to contribute timely and relevant tips and insight for adapting your activities to overcome immediate challenges and plan for the long-term

In this article, here from FACC-NY Member Dan Clark, Managing Director for Cohabs in the United States, one of Europe's finest Coliving Operators. Dan will lend insight on the company's arrival to the New York market and how they are aiming to reinvent the way we live...

At Cohabs we have had to adapt and evolve throughout this incredibly challenging and unprecedented time in our history. The following is an outline of our strategy and some of the techniques that have helped us carry on with a clear vision.

  • We started by closing our office while keeping all our employees fully active. We leveraged on all our digital tools (Slack, Notion, Zoom, Asana, Drive, Airtable, …) and we’ve been able to be as productive as before thanks to well-defined Objectives and Key Results. 
  • We quickly adapted key processes such as acquisition management, property management and community management (from building a physical community to a virtual one). For instance, we delivered quarantine packs to our houses, set up a dedicated line for our members to call a Doctor, created virtual workshops and intensified the cleaning of the common spaces.
  • Then, we assessed our vacancy rate forecast for the 6 coming months with different scenarios. We laid out potential losses and are adjusting our cash flow accordingly with banks and private lenders.
  • As a lot of people will be financially impacted by the Covid-19 situation, we decided to rapidly increase the number of bedrooms dedicated to people with lower income. Those bedrooms will be marketed with the help of non-profit organizations such as SINGA in Belgium.
  • Our business is highly dependent on expats people (65% of our members right now). Therefore, we are now switching our focus to local people with dedicated campaigns and adapted service offerings.
  • As WFH (work from home) will remain the rule to follow in the coming months (years?), we added several comfortable coworking spaces & gyms to be designed in all future homes.
  • We adapted our renovation process for our homes in New York City and are now able to follow the decoration of our buildings through Matterport visuals and tailor-made digital tools & processes.
  • Finally, we will shortly announce the perfect combination of all the points listed above and try to capitalize on the current situation. The acquisition and development of a distressed asset in the center of Brussels where we will create the first major (4.000m2) coliving project in Belgium. It will be a mixed-use of affordable housing, coworking, massive common spaces (yes, a climbing wall) and, of course, traditional coliving units.

It’s easy to say that when we all know Cohabs is one of the lucky few. We have mid-stay leases, members are paying their rents, our construction sites are open and we just raised money. That being said, the point is that every company should focus on adapting its business model right now — whatever the size, stage, or success of its current model. The world is changing, so should our companies.

No one actually knows what the future holds for us and if those actions will help us be COVID-proof but we are proud that we’ve been able to quickly adapt to a changing environment.

Check out Cohabs very first house in New York here. You can apply on their website here

Stay tuned for our upcoming podcast with Cohabs with Lionel Jadot, their Chief Designer at the end of August 2020. 

Subscribe wherever you get your podcasts and more info coming soon!