Competition over collaboration? How to solve the parking predicament of multi-tenant buildings.25-01-2019
We are less than a year away from the new 20s. Contrary to the ‘Roaring 20s’, the upcoming decade might be closer to the ‘Reinventing 20s’. As the world becomes increasingly fast-paced, globalised and and susceptible to major technological, social, environmental and political changes, ‘re-inventing’ has become an all-important aspect of our lives. Rapid developments in business means one has to be flexible and adaptable in what you do and where you work in order to succeed.
There are more gig economy workers and freelancers than ever before, which has given rise to coworking spaces, often housed in multi-tenant buildings. Harvard Business Review found that one of the main reasons people thrive in coworking spaces is the community factor. Everyone working independently of each other for different companies/projects in the same space is one of the strengths of the coworking community, because everyone has a unique skill to offer their coworkers while the level of competition is reduced. These communities value “collaboration over competition” (Coworking Manifesto, 2012).
Coworking space in a multi-tenant building (Source: B.Amsterdam)
However, multi-tenant buildings do not come without their challenges. Designating space, registering visitors and tenants, and meeting the individual needs of a wide array of businesses and freelancers are just a few of the obstacles that multi-tenant buildings face. One of the least-discussed yet major challenges of multi-tenant buildings is parking management. For instance, tenants gain access to the parking through hardware devices such as key tags or remotes, which can be limited and which often have an ungainly means of being acquired (e.g, fetching it from a deposit somewhere in the building). Designating parking spaces can also be highly problematic, as tenants come and go, and visitors often park in any available spot, unaware that it may be reserved. This causes the affected driver whose reserved spot it was to park in a different spot which happens to be available (but which may have been reserved) and so on and so forth. Like dominoes falling, one incorrectly parked car can affect the whole car park, resulting in building tenants, clients, and visitors parking with a feeling of uncertainty or, worse, not being able to park at all.
Parking in multi-tenant buildings seems to be one aspect, therefore, where the community feeling might not be so strong. Why would it be if you as a tenant had taken the effort to pay for and reserve a spot, only to find it occupied when you arrived? Multi-tenant buildings are modern environments where the collaboration of all its individual members form one cohesive unit of innovation, productivity and efficiency. Why don’t the parking spaces match?
Due to the communal, open nature of coworking spaces, multi-tenant buildings can have trouble keeping track of who is using their parking space
Inspired by these challenges, an online parking management system has been developed by the shared parking platform, Mobypark. It is tailored to the specific multi-tenant building* and anyone coming to the building by car can see real-time and upcoming availability of the spaces. Before they even arrive, drivers can reserve and pay for their space, having peace of mind knowing that it will be free when they arrive. Unlike the old-fashioned, heavily administrative process of parking management by the reception, this fully automated system is able to quickly pinpoint when someone has overstayed their parking reservation, entered without reserving, or other parking issues which often go completely unnoticed by the reception but which cause a hassle for parking users.
Access to the car park, through a licence plate reader, mobile phone, keypad or other means (depending on preference and the setup of the car park) is restricted to only regular tenants (who pay based on their parking usage; e.g. monthly) or those who have made a reservation. As a multi-tenant organisation, you wouldn’t allow someone to set up shop at one of the coworking desks without registering and paying, so why would you allow that with the parking space?
By implementing this system, where users can register themselves independently without having to go through a slow, bureaucratic process, a new element is added to the community and more freedom and flexibility is allowed for the individual users. Depending on the availability, users can log in before they leave and decide if they want to take their car or another means. They can make bookings on behalf of their clients to ensure they have a good experience from the moment they arrive at the building.
Creative Valley In Utrecht is one of the multi-tenant buildings which has implemented the online parking system (Source: Creative Valley)
Though building tenants have more agency, the multi-tenant organisation itself ultimately still has control over all aspects of the parking. The fully automated system ensures everything runs smoothly while the organisation can log in at any time to monitor the parking space, gain insights into its usage, and register and deregister users if needed.
Finally, the system’s ability to pinpoint exactly when parking spaces will be occupied means that the unoccupied spaces can be rented out via the same registering, reserving and online payment method to drivers in the area. So while it may be costly to implement the system, the costs are more than covered by the extra revenue generated over time. How many multi-tenant buildings can say they have a parking space which produces both profit and insights?
Other multi-tenant buildings nearby which don’t have a parking space at all can be integrated into the system and their tenants can be given preference over external parties. This adds a new element of community and coworking collaboration, applicable not only between tenants of a specific multi-tenant building, but between multi-tenant buildings themselves. Multi-tenant buildings have contributed significantly to reinventing the way work is done, and the next step is to reinvent their parking management in order to bring their community-driven values to all aspects of the coworking experience.
*Parking management system can also be implemented in hotels, business parking lots, residential buildings and other multi-tenant buildings
Coworking manifesto, 2012. Coworking Wiki.