Coworking provides an ideal platform for many startups, solopraneurs, entrepreneurs, remote workers, etc. However, what works for a while, may not work forever.
- Scale – The largest obstacle to remaining in Coworking for a growing startup is typically size. Once a company reaches 15-20 employees, monthly desk costs within Coworking tend to be significantly greater than the cost of renting a standalone suite with additional room for growth elsewhere. For example, at 20 employee Coworking space at $650/desk might cost $156,000 per year ($13K per month). For that price point in most major US markets, you could find a space measuring at least 3,500 square foot space (approx. $44.50/SF) which may be able to accommodate 25-30 employees. Of course base rent in a standalone space doesn’t include amenities and furniture, but inexpensive furniture solutions are available and services tend to scale as your company grows.
- Identity – Let’s face it, your team is but one fish of many swimming in the pond of your Coworking environment. In spite of the personalized signage applied to the window of your area, the Coworking operator you’ve selected is the lease through which the world identifies your company. Don’t get me wrong, settling in with a great Coworking operator can provide a hugely beneficial platform for your company for many years. The point is both “How Do You Want The World to See You?” and “What is Your Brand?” Some organizations have huge brand identity throughout their space. For instance, The U.S. Soccer Foundation has a wall of soccer balls in their reception area with the feel of the soccer pitch runs throughout their space. Some are more playful in celebrating their founders’ passions and project a cool vibe. For example, VTS (formerly known as ViewTheSpace) sports a wicked display of custom surfboards and conference rooms named for the world’s great surf breaks. Graduating from Coworking is an announcement to the Universe that your company is no longer one of the fingerlings swarming in the shallows, but has left the bait ball and is ready to swim into the deeper seas.
- Culture – Building great culture is the secret sauce of any organization. When your company is in its infancy, the culture of your founding team is supported by the passion of your mission and the supportive environment of your fellow Coworking members and operator. As you grow, it becomes tougher to truly create a distinct culture for your team and brand. Rallying your team around your mission, your values, who you are and what you stand for are key attributes of having your own space.
- Control – Last but not least, being able to control access to your space, it’s environment can be critical. For many organizations, the ability to exercise positive control over the security of your personnel and proprietary technology is hugely important and cannot be overstated.
Graduation from Coworking doesn’t necessarily mean that your organization will have to find, commit to a long term lease & expensive build out it’s next offices. The good news is that Enterprise Space is the most rapidly growing sector of the “plug & play” commercial real estate market. Options within the Enterprise zone include: Spec Office Suites, Instant HQ’s (such as Knowtel and Convene) and “Town Hall” style suites (standalone suites with shared amenity space). The common element is that there’s the minimum lease terms are 1-3 years, the spaces are in move-in condition (Instant HQ’s will typically provide furniture as well) and you can select a range of Coworking-like amenities.