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[Update 1/22: Persona & Prototype] CoWorking/CoLiving spaces for 50+ digital nomads all over the world

Create shared spaces & services to support 50+ digital nomads that combine global travel with remote work, study or entrepreneurship goals.

Photo of Linda Dorman
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Who is your idea designed for and how does it support the dreams and obligations of those 50 and older?

Those of us 50 and older increasingly find ourselves marginalized in the work force even though we need to continue to earn an income. By age 50, most of us no longer have children at home and are able to travel extensively, downsize our living space and explore new ways to learn and share our experience. Yet existing CoWorking/CoLiving spaces are designed to serve younger participants who have very different needs and preferences.

Talk to any digital nomad under age 40 and they'll convince you of the value of having a secure, well-equipped space to work, live and collaborate wherever they travel.

In addition to reliable Internet/WiFi access, printing, shipping and related business services, CoWorking/CoLiving spaces provide a wide array of services and activities to support people who work remotely or study online as well as entrepreneurs in the process of building their own business. These include coaching/mentoring, skills development, financial management/planning, ethics/sustainability, networking opportunities and support. Group activities range from yoga, cooking classes, tours, bike rental, sports, expert lectures and much more. 

But the existing spaces around the world are designed for a younger audience, making it less appealing for the 50+ community who need some of the same services - but often require quite different services as well. 

It is also important for the 50+ community to feel they fit in. Imagine a 30-year old walking into a retirement community, filled with people twice their age - well, that's how out-of-place a 50+ person feels when they visit existing co-working/co-living spaces. 

As more 50+ people embark on this lifestyle, whether they travel part-time or all the time, they will value CoWorking/CoLiving spaces that better meet their needs.

This opens up a whole new category for financial services to provide travel savings accounts, international debit/credit cards, funds transfers, payments, insurance, small business loans and a host of other products to a highly-targeted, motivated audience with existing assets.

What makes this concept exciting is that additional services can continue to be added over time, increasing the value for all who participate, and the concept can be modified to work in many different countries.

What early, lightweight experiment might you try out in your own community to find out if the idea will meet your expectations?

• Deploy a design-thinking approach to identify specific needs and preferences for the 50+ customer. • Partner with a well-known organization that can drive initial funding to secure a test location (or multiple sites), develop staff/services and promote to the 50+ community. • Gather feedback from early adopters and refine the concept before roll-out to more markets.

What skills, input or guidance from the OpenIDEO community would be most helpful in building out or refining your idea?

OpenIDEO's expertise modeling existing CoWorking spaces would be vital to creating a basic structure for modification. The community's global presence can provide valuable insight on how this might work in different countries and what additional services may be beneficial in a local market. Elements of other ideas in this challenge can also be incorporated to deliver a more comprehensive offering: • 50+ Maker Spaces • Employment & Intern Matching • Incubator Club • Home Here & There

Tell us about your work experience:

I am a 50+ digital nomad traveling the world working, studying & living in different countries. From 2003-2012, I served as VP, Global Strategy for a multi-national information services firm leading global expansion/digital innovation investment. Prior, I spent 7 years in B2B healthcare information.

Please check all that apply:

  • I'm not currently involved in a credit union, but am curious to learn more!

This idea emerged from

  • An Individual

How would you describe this idea while in an elevator with someone?

By 2020, over 40% of the US workforce will be contingent workers - that's nearly 60 million people! CoWorking spaces are designed to meet the needs of a younger audience but there’s a growing segment who would use such spaces if adapted for their needs/preferences. Think of it as a “delivery system” for all kinds of products & services tailored for the age 50+ audience in a trusted environment.

How might your idea be transferable to a large number of people?

CoWorking spaces perform best when designed for the local market, but there are common attributes that can be deployed across multiple markets, much like hotels & retailers follow a single brand strategy and allow for local customization, both in the US and abroad. Once the core framework is configured, each space can be adapted to fit local communities, based on research and user feedback. Credit union and MasterCard customers might also be offered discounts or free day passes to try it.

How do you plan to measure the impact of your idea?

Business performance metrics would be used to measure the impact: • Awareness & Response: initial inquiries, website visits, email newsletter opt-ins, concept testing (focus group research), social media metrics, PR/media coverage • Usage: Membership volume, #/frequency of visits, referrals, renewals, customer satisfaction surveys, competitor analysis • Financial: Revenue, profitability, partner participation/contribution

What are your immediate next steps after the challenge?

Assuming development would be resourced, the next step is to form a core team to: • Assess existing CoWorking spaces (or unused Credit Union office space) • Determine what products and services need to be adapted for the DN50+ audience and cultivate relationships with business partners who can provide these offerings • Develop a plan, budget, timeline and resource requirements to build out test market sites • Establish a mechanism to communicate and report on project progress against plan
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Attachments (2)

OpenIDEO Challenge - DN50+ Prototype.pdf

This document provides key findings from our initial market research, examples of existing co-working spaces in the US and abroad, and feedback from potential customers on what they would like to have in a co-working space.

OpenIDEO Challenge - DN50+ Persona.pdf

This document describes Susan, our example of the DN50+ customer.


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Photo of patty kappmeyer

I think of your idea as an updated/modernized hostel model for the 50 crowd.

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