Frank Zorn is the co-founder of Deskeo, one of the biggest coworking operators in France with 75.000 sqm under management, spread across 50 locations mainly in the Paris and Lyon area. Deskeo is the French arm of the US coworking giant Knotel after Knotel acquired Deskeo last year. The acquisition of Deskeo stepped up Knotel’s game in Europe, who had only been present in Germany so far through Ahoy!, the Berlin based operator Knotel had taken over in 2018. We have interviewed Frank Zorn in order to learn more about Knotel’s plans in Europe.
The highlights from our conversation with Frank Zorn from Deskeo are summarised below:
- Knotel in the US had the same positioning as Deskeo in France: “We rapidly figured out there was a good fit between us. We have the same understanding and philosophy of what we want to build. So we joined forces”, tells us Frank.
- In terms of market positioning, Deskeo sees a place between the demand of landlords to convert part of their business towards more flexible models and the demand of companies requiring more flexible commitment for their workplace needs: “We see we are well positioned to match the two sides of the demand.” affirms him.
- Deskeo focuses on the middle size and scaling up companies, as well as corporates: “Once a company grows higher than 10-20 people, they start to look for an environment where they can build their own culture, their own iconography within their location. We co-create an office that looks like their own office, bringing on top of it our service layer and flexibility”
- Frank Zorn is involved in the development of Deskeo in France, but not only. He also helps to develop the Knotel European offering elsewhere in Europe, in Amsterdam and Dublin, a.o. According to the country, the strategy will either be to keep the operations under an existing local brand – such as it was in Deskeo’s case (which benefits form a strong recognition in France) or to develop directly and organically a new offering under the Knotel brand.
- For contracts involving locations in different countries and with international customers they commit as Knotel: “We are a global brand, present in 70 cities”.
- At the moment, Knotel focuses on the most attractive and biggest markets but they are open to go to smaller cities as a second step.
- Frank Zorn says the company is also aware of the shift in culture that is brewing in the post-Covid19 time.
- Employees and companies start to consider to distribute their workforce differently. Silicon Valley and some other places are losing some of their appeal as people are thinking differently after the Covid-19 impact: “This is a shift that is going to take place. However, we don’t expect changes to happen overnight. It will take a few years“, adds Frank.
Deskeo recently released the results of a survey on how teleworking is accepted and perceived in France: “Work from home policy will become an asset for companies talent attraction”, explains Frank. “Employees are also ready to give up their dedicated desks, would the workspace policy change and become more flexible, integrating home office” adds Frank.
- Different working needs require different settings too: “The head down tasks can be made at home. Brainstorming, collective creativity sessions, social stimulation… rather take place within a workspace environment” affirms Frank.
- Last but not least: “Proper workspace design will become even more important in that new era“, adds the CEO of Deskeo.
Or just listen to the podcast version of the interview.