The trend of coworking is expected to keep growing this year, even if growth isn’t expected to quite match the dizzying rate of previous years, according to a report by the Global Coworking Unconference Conference.
As the number of coworking spaces rises to meet increasing demand, businesses are looking beyond the traditional customers of freelancers and remote workers. They’re specializing their services and working to appeal to new groups.
Some coworking spaces are choosing to cater to specific types of people, such as pet owners, podcasters or parents. In other cases, co-working spaces are courting bigger companies in addition to the small startups or solopreneurs they’ve focused on in the past. Finally, some coworking spaces are moving beyond the basic desks-and-WiFi office structures to serve new industries that require specialty equipment.
Serving Bigger Businesses
Many of the advantages of coworking, which have long appealed to solo workers and smaller businesses, can be just as helpful to bigger companies — and even enormous corporations such as Google and Twitter.
These advantages include:
- the ability to focus on business instead of office and equipment issues
- the ability to grow or shrink the company’s physical space quickly and with little expense
- The need for a fresh, fun and exciting environment full of networking opportunities
Companies can leverage these benefits in a variety of ways. Coworker reports that while some rely on coworking spaces for their remote workforce, others are “strategically moving employees, teams, and departments into coworking spaces.” Because of the flexibility of coworking spaces and other turnkey office spaces, they’re also ideal for housing employees on short-term contracts or assignments outside of the company’s main office.
Many coworking spaces are now offering “enterprise” plans to give these businesses access to all the features they need. For example, perhaps the company only needs to rent the meeting room occasionally for the whole staff to get together, but also chooses a package that allows their employees to use desks occasionally.
Serving Pet Owners
No dog owner loves leaving their pet at home alone for hours while they’re at work.
In fact, many remote workers and freelancers may find coworking a harder sell for just this reason: When they work from home, they don’t have to worry about whether their dog needs to go out, is currently chewing up the furniture, or is just lonely.
These workers may not have to choose much longer between leaving their dogs at home and taking advantage of the benefits of a coworking space. Some coworking spaces like these are welcoming dogs into their offices.
David Oshima, owner of Kleverdog Coworking, listed some additional benefits of workers bringing dogs with them to the office: the presence of the dogs reduces stress, boosts productivity, and even forces owners to stand up and take breaks (which is good for health, as well).
Plenty of new coworking spaces designed especially for women have cropped up in recent years and are enjoying some success.
Entrepreneur reports that these spaces have emerged as alternatives to typically male-dominated coworking cultures. Proponents say that in a women-centric space, women feel less pressure and are able to be more productive. These organizations tend to run other complementary programs and events that also focus on women’s issues, such as mentoring, investing opportunities, and more.
On a related note, there are also a number of coworking spaces that are trying to meet the needs of freelance, remote and entrepreneurial parents by providing child care in their coworking spaces. For more, read our full post on that topic.
Serving New Industries
There are plenty of industries that may soon be able to benefit from the ability to share a workspace, despite needing specialty equipment or having other unique demands for their work.
Here are just a few examples:
Shared studio space for media production. Some coworking spaces geared toward media companies have features like recording studios, broadcast studios, and greenrooms. These amenities are difficult for individual media professionals to afford, which makes them extra appealing. Plus, with a shared industry background, networking opportunities may be even more valuable.
Shared labs for scientists. Biotech incubators are popping up in certain cities, giving new businesses access to fully-equipped labs and office space under the same roof so they can help each other grow.
Shared salons for stylists. Some franchises, such as My Salon Suite, let stylists rent individual suites and operate independent businesses from the same location. Through their memberships, they get all the equipment and business tools they need to help them succeed.
Shared health space for health professionals. Medical and health professionals who want flexible and part-time work can take advantage of spaces like WellnessWorks. These shared spaces take care of office resources like a concierge staff, schedulers, refreshments and more so professionals can focus on their work. Once again, connecting to a community of other part-time medical professionals presents great networking opportunities for members.
Serving in New Locations
Despite all the new industries and market segments that coworking spaces are branching into, typical freelance and remote workers are still the industry’s bread and butter.
A few new coworking spaces have found an interesting way to provide these workers with access to shared workspace at much lower rates than some competitors by hosting their coworking at restaurants that are typically closed during the day.
In bigger cities, many restaurants are beautifully designed and have ample tables and chairs that are ideal for digital workers. They also have convenient access to refreshments, if coworkers are interested in sampling the menu.
Hosting coworkers during the day is usually a win for restaurants, who usually wouldn’t be getting any revenue from the space during those hours. It’s also a win for the coworkers, who don’t have to pay higher rates to cover the full cost of the space.
For more on this trend, check out this HFF Advisor article.
If you’re interested in shared office space, whether it’s to start your own coworking space or simply share an office with a few other businesses, you can start your search for a turnkey office space here.