Picture if you will: a young professional with a crazy, unpredictable schedule. Let’s call him Nate.
Nate is constantly on the go, often traveling and putting in long hours, trying to get his startup company off the ground. He’d love to meet other professionals like him, preferably in the most fun and efficient way possible. Then maybe they could collaborate, work together on a project. But at the same time, he’s pretty commitment-phobic at the moment, personally and professionally. He doesn’t know when, or if, he’ll ever settle down and buy a house — he’s even nervous about signing a long-term lease, because he doesn’t know what he’ll be doing or where he’ll need to be in six months, let alone a year.
He’s been making do with alternately working from his apartment, working in coffee shops with free Wi-Fi or just setting up his laptop to work wherever he goes. He doesn’t put a mailing address on his business cards, because his only physical address is his apartment, and he’s not really keen on using a P.O. box. His mobile phone is his only phone. He has his own personal system for making all this work, but he’s starting to suspect it’s holding him back, maybe in ways he’s not even thinking about. Well, it turns out Nate is in luck, because he is the exact target demographic for a co-working space.
Where does Nate go from here? Let’s take a look at some of the region’s more flexible workspace options to see which might be the best fit for Nate.
Nate would be able to use a downtown mailing address as his own, and the co-working company would handle his mail for him. Not only that, but they’d handle his calls — he’d have a receptionist answering calls. He’d have access to shared desk space on a part-time basis, and the ability to book a private meeting space that would impress clients more than meeting at a doughnut shop.
Upshot: This could work great if Nate is into a more a la carte approach and doesn’t expect to need a lot of time actually there in-person.
This option costs a little more at any company, but it means reserving his own desk and landline at one of its locations. But often that means he’ll also automatically get the mailing service thrown in, and all the other perks of the workspace, including free refreshments.
Upshot: It’s for the co-working fans who lean a little more toward stable office environment.
Most co-working companies have options for groups. Nate could go in with his business partners (after he gets some), and they could set up shop together. Unlike Nate’s one-bedroom apartment, they’d have a concierge, a spiffy lobby area, tech support and a better mailing address. Plus, the view is better, and there’s free gourmet coffee. (And Nate doesn’t own a foosball table — important for brainstorming sessions, obviously.)
Upshot: Good for groups, these workspaces are the cheaper versions of actual office spaces.
This is always the most costly option from co-working companies, because it’s the closest thing you can get to a traditional lease situation. It’s just a bit more flexible in terms than most leases, typically a month-to-month rent. But Nate would have a space that’s really all his own, just like a regular office, ready to move in. And he’d have access to the co-working company’s various perks.
Upshot: It’s co-working but without the “co-” part. No sharing, no annoying cube-mates.
Here’s a way that more traditional landlords are cutting into the co-working business. It turns out that when filling an office building, no tenant ever comes in the perfect size. It’s like filling a container with rocks — no matter how many rocks you place in the container, there are still going to be spaces left. Enter LiquidSpace, a new platform that lists office spaces in nearly any increment of time: a day, a week, a month, years. Washington Real Estate Investment Trust, the publicly traded, D.C.-based REIT, partnered with LiquidSpace last year, to start listing its own leftover, odd spaces on the LiquidSpace website. Tenants pay rent to LiquidSpace, which takes a fee and sends the rest to the landlord. “LiquidSpace looked like an interesting technology to experiment with to drive short-term income that we wouldn’t otherwise for space that is sitting in vacant, so why not try and make some money,” said Anthony Chang, vice president of asset management at WashREIT.
Upshot: Basically, your traditional office building, often in a desirable location with regular neighbor tenants, but for shorter-term commitments than normal leases.
You know what they say, membership has it privileges. While an incubator will have some co-working space options, it will also have a lot of additional resources for entrepreneurs, like business classes and workshops, mentors and even access to funding. Incubators are likely to have plenty of networking events on-site, as well. The catch is that the application process may be somewhat harder to get through, as an incubator will be pickier about its members, and may have a specific industry focus that Nate’s company doesn’t fit right now.
Upshot: This one takes more effort to get into, but companies can potentially get more out of it in return.
This is the setup we all picture at a co-working space. Nate could show up any day, any time and just drop in, take whatever seat is open, then open his laptop and get to work. It’s a more social option, as other people will be dropping in and working around him in an open office, giving him a chance to meet some new contacts. If the company has multiple locations, most likely he can take his pick from day to day. Usually, additional fees can get him a mail plan or book a conference room as needed.
Upshot: It’s the easiest plan — though it carries some risk if he can’t find an open seat at the time of day he wants to show up.
Launch Workplaces creates productive, collaborative flexible office communities with the entrepreneur in mind. We understand what it is like to be a startup with a tight budget, or a passionate entrepreneur leading a small business unable to commit to a multi-year lease in a traditional corporate environment. Home to amazing startups, entrepreneurs, freelancers and innovation-focused teams from the Inc. 5000, our communities are designed for companies looking for flexible and affordable workplace solutions to get work done. For more information, please visit www.LaunchWorkplaces.com