Billed as the ‘Airbnb for workspaces,’ Vancouver-based ShareDesk recently announced the launch of its ShareDesk CONNECT! feature, which will let users search, connect, and collaborate with other mobile workers in its shared space community. The company launched in public beta in early August, and to date is seeing upwards of 6,000 users per month, with 800 property listings in over 70 countries.
Co-founder and CEO Kia Rahmani, himself once a mobile worker, saw the opportunity when he started his own coworking space by leasing and renting out desk space to others. “This goes beyond renting a desk, it’s all about creating and engaging a community of like-minded professionals, I like to think of it as a physical professional network,” Rahmani said in an interview. “It creates this serendipitous opportunity for other people who want to connect and join a community, not just a desk.”
Users looking to rent a space will now be able to browse not just the physical office, but also the profiles of individuals already working there to assess fit and any opportunities to collaborate. Once they do decide to rent a desk, the host of the space can add them as a member, which will then allow them to message and network with other members, almost like a social network for coworking spaces.
The platform is free to join for both those searching for space and those with space to offer, and lets workers browse by city or a specific location to browse through the listings. Users can rent everything from a conference room for a couple of hours to workspaces they can rent for several months. Property owners can set up a profile to showcase everything from their lounge, to meeting rooms, to the office space they have available.
With the introduction of the site’s new features, Rahmani is hoping space owners will share their space across social networks and start building a community of engaged mobile workers. “They want to deepen their engagement with their current community and also allow other people to assess whether or not it will be a good fit for them. It’s really important to allow people to connect in realtime around the world, so it’s very exciting for ShareDesk to allow these spaces to build physical professional networks,” Rahmani added.
Property owners on ShareDesk can accept bookings and receive payment by credit card and PayPal. ShareDesk takes 15 percent of each transaction, though mobile workers can rebook or extend their terms directly with the hosts.
With the rise of mobile workers, either those who work from home or people who are freelancers and contractors, both property owners and a handful of companies are creating platforms to disrupt how individuals work and collaborate across the board. New York-based Loosecubes has an invite-only network of workers and free workspaces around the world, and LiquidSpace has a more niche focus on the business community with listings for hotel lobbies, business centers, and private offices across the U.S., with international listings launching soon.
Rahmani believes what sets ShareDesk apart is the flexibility it offers. “Competitors allow you to only book by the day, we provide a platform that lets you book by the day or for an extended period of time. We provide the flexibility to book any workspace for any amount of time.”
The company’s focus for the next few months is to continually develop the platform to make it more fluid for both workplaces and workers searching for spaces. It aims to be ahead of the curve when it comes to serving what the International Data Centre (IDC) estimates will be a 1.3 billion global mobile working population by the year 2015, according to Rahmani. Launching community features to help mobile workers find people to collaborate with might help the platform set itself apart from free solutions like Loosecubes, and help them create a global network of mobile workers in the process.