Companies like WeWork and Spaces have become synonymous with the digital nomad. Armed with nothing more than a laptop, these entrepreneurs get things done in the comfort and novelty of a shared and flexible workspace. But these spaces, and all the trendy amenities that accompany them, can be valuable for small businesses as well.
"We provide flexibility, which is particularly crucial for small businesses and entrepreneurial companies," said Michael Berretta, vice president of North America development for the International Workplace Group (IWG), the company that owns Spaces and Regus. "We allow these companies to choose the right workspace, in the right location with the right services, enabling them to scale up or down quickly."
Coworking spaces aren't a new concept, but in recent years, offerings from companies like WeWork and Spaces have drawn business owners due to concrete business services and networking opportunities. Shared workspaces charge businesses a monthly fee for access to a physical workspace and various business-related amenities, like coffee and printers. It could be a good value for your small business because of the full-fledged private offices that can be established amid a shared workspace.
Depending on what's needed, services can be scaled from a low-fee community membership all the way up to global access to company workspaces. The draw is in the flexibility and access to a network of thousands of business owners.
Coworking spaces are more than just a physical workspace. While entrepreneurs and business owners have access to a workspace, which can either be a full-time designated area or a floating space, the services provided in the space are what make it worthwhile. By partnering with one of these companies, business owners don't have to worry about basic business services such as Wi-Fi, printers, conference room access, private phone booths, bike storage, mail handling, coffee and refreshments, and kitchen access. It's essentially an all-in-one office package for small businesses.
In addition to basic services, companies like Spaces and WeWork provide networking opportunities and resources for growing your business. Besides brushing shoulders with various business owners each day, the companies provide individual networking events for business owners to connect.
"We’ve been able to create a robust digital member network, allowing members of all sizes to connect," a WeWork spokesperson said. "Whether you’re an entrepreneur launching your first business or work for a Fortune 500 enterprise in one of our spaces, the opportunities for members to connect are boundless."
With the rise of remote work, partnering with a coworking space may be ideal if your small business only needs a central location to meet a few times a week. Berretta said a study from IWG found 74 percent of U.S. employees are working at least one day a week somewhere other than the office.
Depending on your business needs, the monthly cost could be significantly less than that of establishing your own office and providing these basic services for your employees. Another potential benefit is the reputation of companies like WeWork and Spaces – the progressive attitude and comfortable spaces mean your business can potentially use a partnership to attract new talent.
WeWork has exploded in the last few years, jumping from 7,000 members in 2014 to 220,000 this year. As one of the fastest-growing companies in the U.S., it has become the face of coworking arrangements for entrepreneurs, small businesses and dynamic enterprise organizations. It provides varying options and thousands of locations worldwide. We looked at a property in the Midtown area of New York City to get an idea of what WeWork's offering is like for business owners based in a large city.
The company charges $1,000 per month to set up a private office within WeWork. Depending on the size of your team, WeWork can scale to meet your needs. It provides furnished offices with access to vital business services, such as mail and package handling, printing, and Wi-Fi. From here, price (and services) go down. Smaller teams can enjoy a dedicated work area for $700 per month, and very small, flexible teams can get access to shared workspaces for $450 per month. For business owners who just want to reap the benefits of the WeWork community, you can get a We Membership for $45 per month.
"As a freelancer, entrepreneur or small business owner, you're given access to an incredible member network, innovative programs and services, and an onsite community team working to help your business succeed," a WeWork spokesperson said.
Spaces is owned by IWG, which has been providing coworking arrangements since the '90s. It also owns Regus, another giant in the industry, and various other coworking companies. Spaces is its brand that competes directly with WeWork. To compare the two companies, we looked at offices in Midtown, Manhattan, that were each about a block from each other. From a price perspective, everything was similar, except WeWork's community membership was less expensive.
To set up a private office, businesses will be charged $1,469 per month. Spaces can tailor your office to fit your team's size, and you'll have access to all the standard business services. This includes access to the Business Club, which offers locations you can work in across the globe, as well as access to Wi-Fi, conference rooms and other basic services. If you're running a smaller team, you can sign up for a dedicated desk from $709 per month. This includes many of the same amenities as the private office. For more flexible businesses, the $499-monthly Spaces membership will give you access to community work areas and the overall global community.
In addition to offering offices in large cities, Spaces and IWG provide offices and workspaces in suburban areas. This can be a good option for business owners looking for the benefits of shared workspace without having to commute to a large city.
"Many people are increasingly heeding the call of suburbia, especially those with families," Berretta said, "and companies need to provide working options closer to where these employees live if they want to attract and retain this seasoned talent. We're focused on building a global network, and while that does include targeting larger metropolitan areas, it also includes a lot of suburban growth."