Passing the Torch: A Q&A With William Edmundson

A Q&A with William Edmundson

We recently asked outgoing GWA Board Co-President and Executive Director, William Edmundson, to share his experience and insights gained during his leadership tenure with the association. We asked about his inspiration for joining the flex office industry, the changes he’s seen in the industry, the evolution of the association, and the challenges he sees on the horizon for the flex office industry. We discussed the essential skills and qualities needed to succeed in this field and his fondest memories as Executive Director of the Global Workspace Association.

Read on to discover their valuable perspectives on the coworking industry and the Global Workspace Association’s role in supporting it.

What inspired you to become involved in the coworking industry?

It was 2009 and I had just led the successful launch of the Cambria Suites brand for Choice hotels. The economy hit a recession and financing for hotels dried-up. Many of us in leadership positions were “downsized”. A hospitality recruiter reached out to me and told me he had a client that owned a chain of hospitality related locations and was looking for an experienced leader to run and grow his company for him. I met with Chris Brown, founder of Abby Office Center and immediately saw the connection between the Executive Suite industry and the hotel industry and how my background was a match for him and his company.  

What are some of the most significant changes you’ve seen in the industry during your time as Board Member and Executive Director of the Global Workspace Association?

We have seen the change from exclusively Executive Suites style workspaces to the addition of coworking spaces with beer and foosball to hybrid spaces and now more flexible spaces including landlord operated spaces and entire buildings like Hines’ Texas Tower that are built entirely the future of flex.

How has the Global Workspace Association evolved since you took on the role of Executive Director, and what accomplishments are you most proud of during your tenure?

Through 2019, the GWA was growing rapidly. When we faced the pandemic, we had to pivot and adapt to virtual events and webinars. We also had to cut our team way back and offer sponsor funded free programming. Thank you sponsors! The biggest accomplishment in our post COVID return was last year’s fall conference. The content, logistics and teamwork really made the event something we were all proud of.

As the flex office industry continues to grow and change, what challenges do you see on the horizon, and how do you believe spaces, and the Global Workspace Association, can adapt to meet these challenges?

Economic change and adaptations to a new way of working will take some time and patience as companies and workers find their groove. I believe that we are beginning to see segmentation like the hotel industry has. There will be different price points and different amenities and finishes at different levels. We will also see more consolidation and acquisitions.

As a seasoned professional in the industry, what do you believe are some of the most important skills and qualities that aspiring coworking professionals should possess in order to succeed in this field?

At the center-level hospitality minded professionals with positive attitudes will make the difference. Companies like THRIVE, Common Desk and Shift understand that the company culture is not only great for employee acquisition and retention, it makes a center the place where members want to be. At the ownership level, it is important to have the great culture, but also to make sure that you find your sweet spot as segmentation becomes more prevalent. Know that change will be the constant as the workplace transitions to the new ways that people work.

Looking back on your time as Executive Director of the Global Workspace Association, what are some of your fondest memories?

My fondest moments include seeing everyone at last year’s Immersive Event and Flex Forward conference and seeing the smiles on their faces as we were once again able to collaborate. An annual highlight is seeing the nominating videos and the proud faces of the winners of the Community Manager of the Year Awards. Those folks make the difference!


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