Coworking spaces are often "self-selected" due to their random nature. This can affect the culture at a location.
The Workplace is Changing
Andrew was a victim of the pandemic before the coronavirus.
He had to fight morning traffic, which took him between 15 and 40 minutes to get to work.
As a proposal manager in Durham, North Carolina's Research Triangle Park, he figured out the lab service costs for clinical trials. Slaughter was able to work from home during the pandemic but wanted to get back to the office. His wife runs a preschool at their home with 10 kids a day playing in the sandbox and singing along to songs. Slaughter said that the noise was distracting and he retreated to a desk in his room. It's not like I can go anywhere else in the house. Slaughter was shocked to learn that his office had been "fully remote" when LabCorp informed him he would be returning to work. LabCorp, like many other companies, reduced its office space after finding that employees were equally effective and happy working from home. Slaughter, eager to escape his chaotic home during the daytime hours, found a solution at a coworking area. It wasn't a new concept: the spaces were popular for sharing office equipment, snacks and industrial-grade internet. As the pandemic has led to more remote workers, the coworking space market is growing among those who are displaced. People like Slaughter long for an office away from the distractions such as the fridge, the couch and the TV. Slaughter selected a property in downtown Durham called the American Underground. It is located in an old bank on Main Street. The American Underground not only offers office amenities, but also social events like bingo nights, happy hour, and a coffee and snack bar. He pays $150 per month for his space. Slaughter's commute was the most exciting part of the experience. Slaughter explained that he could now ride his bike to Research Triangle Park instead of driving. There has been a lot of research done on coworking space, but most of it has been focused on entrepreneurs who are the typical patrons. Travis Howell is an assistant professor of strategy, entrepreneurship and management at the University of California Irvine. He conducted interviews in the American Underground to try to study entrepreneurs. But he found refugee employees from corporates instead. He said, "At first, it was irritating." "I removed them from my research because they weren't the people I wanted. Then I realized that this was becoming a trend.
Howell said that he has concentrated his research on these workers who now make up about 16% of American Underground's occupants. Other coworking groups, including
Similar numbers have been reported by Expansive and other companies.
His research continues, but it seems that entrepreneurs and former corporate workers alike enjoy coworking spaces. The reasons are different, yet overlap. Coworking spaces are attractive to entrepreneurs and startups because they offer short-term rentals, the environment gives a sense of legitimacy and allows them to seek advice from people in other companies. Corporate workers can also benefit from these benefits, both through their company and their colleagues, in the case of seeking advice. The community is what displaced workers are missing. Howell stated that "They could have done their work from home." But the people are the reason why they self-collected into coworking spaces. It can be difficult to define what community is. In corporations, people are often linked by their department or project (or even their boss) (and sometimes through a shared hatred). Coworking spaces are random, which allows for "self selection," and this can often color the culture in a specific location.
The coworking space of
Prospect Heights in Brooklyn has become a popular destination for young parents. The company operates more than 160 stores in 65 cities around the world. Jamie Hodari said that people bond over common interests like dog ownership and bowling.
Blackbird House in Culver City is a space for women of color. It has been considered expanding into six more cities. Blackbird House is the physical space for an organization called Blackbird Collective. It opened in 2019 and has found a niche that's profitable. Speakers like Kamala Harris Stacey Abrams, Alfre woodard, have all been attracted to the Blackbird Collective. Bridgid Cheadle, founder of the company, stated that it was no small feat to be in a group of peers who understood the struggle of having no one look like you. She said that Blackbird House was affected by the pandemic but had a profitable reopening. "We're looking at scaling this." The ability to ignore the coworking culture is what some people like most about it. Jonathon Newby is a product designer at Zendesk Labs in San Francisco. He could work from home, developing software to connect companies with their customers. He is alone in his house during the day. Only his dog and a bit of street noise are distracting. Newby admitted that he was a bit of a homebody, but said too much is too much. Newby says that he is a bit of a homebody, but too much of anything can be overwhelming. The buzz of other workers around him stimulates his creativity. He said, "It is nice to be in the same environment as them even if I do not know them." It's a feeling.
Nicholas Bloom, an economist at the University of California, San Diego, says that investors have not picked up on this vibe.
Who studies remote workers? Investors don't look at coworking space in terms of popularity or occupancy, but rather as a generic real estate investment in an oversaturated office market. Coworking spaces have become popular because of the commercial downsizing which has led employees to seek out coworking space. However, this has resulted also in an excess of office space that is depreciating.
According to Bloom's study, between November 2021 - January 2022 about 45% U.S. workers aged 24 to 64 will work remotely. The majority of workers worked at home. However, a third spent their time in coworking spaces, libraries and coffee shops, as well as friends' homes. The cost of remote working, which can range from $50 per day to $400 per month, is not always paid by employees. Zendesk, the company where Newby is employed, offers remote workers a stipend to help them set up a home office, or coworking area. Niamh McGarty is senior director of human resources at Zendesk. She said that the business benefit was to offer a great experience for employees.
Zendesk does not encourage workers to adopt the coworking lifestyle alone. Jennifer Barbush is a pension administrator at
When she was working at her home in Citrus park, Florida, two of her children, aged 2 and 5, would interrupt her every day.
She said, "They need to be attended to." "My eight-hour workday turned into 12- or 13-hours." She was not thrilled about the 30-to-40-minute commute into a suburban office park. She questioned whether she should change jobs. She was instead allowed to join a nearby coworking space, in Ybor City. She said, "I can now take the trolley to Tampa instead of having to work in a big suburban office where I have to drive everywhere." She keeps her job.