Coworking spaces have become a mainstay of startup culture and small business operations.
Once seen as just an alternative for freelancers seeking an escape from home offices and coffee shops, coworking has become an enormous enterprise, with companies like WeWork, Regus, and The Yard charting annual revenues of millions, and sometimes billions, of dollars.
Small businesses have turned to coworking spaces as a way to avoid the rigidity of leasing or subleasing in a traditional office space, while at the same time enjoying the freedom of their month-to-month rental options that most spaces offer.
In addition to this freedom, the costs of coworking spaces can be significantly lower than that of a traditional office space — especially if your business is based in a city where real estate is almost always pricey.
While the first few years of your business are quintessential to your longevity, and the perfect space can increase your productivity and success.
A whopping 90 percent of startups fail, according to a study by Startup Genome, a research and policy group with a focus in small enterprises. As such, it’s important you manage your overhead, which includes finding the right space at the right cost during this critical juncture in your business’s sustained health.
This list breaks down companies popping up the nation over, with multiple offices in cities all over the United States. If you’re currently operating a small company and looking for an inexpensive spot to set up shop, check out these seven companies.
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This list wouldn’t be complete without mentioning this coworking real estate behemoth, which since 2010 has disrupted the small office industry and recently filed for an initial public offering (IPO).
Besides offering month-to-month memberships, allowing you to change locations to accommodate your business’s growth, WeWork also offers many in-house services and amenities.
These include a reception desk, office cleaning, mail service, in-house printing, credits toward conference room usage, and freshly made coffee (courtesy of roaster La Colombe).
In addition to these standard provisions, WeWork boasts a number of different perks, like opportunities to network, on-site events and workshops in skills like public speaking or UX, in-building food courts called Honesty Markets with snacks on certain floors (at some locations), private phone booths, and craft beer on tap. Plus, you get discounts at other businesses with a WeWork membership, such as gym membership discounts, discounted software like Quickbooks and Vonage, and free Ube rEats deliveries to all WeWork offices. Yum.
On top of all that, the company is extremely pet-friendly; though it varies from office to office, there’s a high likelihood you can see (or bring your own) four-legged colleague along to a pitch meeting.
WeWork offers uniformity of aesthetics across its more than 110 locations in dozens of cities worldwide. If you’ve worked in one location, you can expect a similar atmosphere at another office, even if you’re in a different city. This can be helpful if it’s necessary to move your business’s location, but don’t want to readjust to a different workflow.
Private offices start at $450 a month, which are enclosed and work for teams of a variety of sizes, but you can opt for shared workspaces in an open space for just $190 a month. And as stated earlier, if it’s not a great fit, membership can be done on a month-to-month basis so you can pick up and move elsewhere if needed.
Of course, if you intend to stay for a year or two, WeWork offers monthly rate discounts to longer leases, which can save you hundreds on overhead costs.
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Not to be outdone by its more popular competitor, Regus has emerged in recent years as an attractive co-working alternative that’s quickly growing; it currently boasts 3,000 locations worldwide across 120 countries.
Regus differs from WeWork in the variety of plans offered, which includes both dedicated spaces and a flexible Regus Membership option.
Its dedicated offices offer flexible contracts — you can rent an office month to month or can opt for contracts as long as two years if you plan on setting up shop for the long haul. Choosing a long-term plan will also net a discount on your monthly rate, reducing overhead if you are able to plan in advance. In this sense, it’s very similar to WeWork’s monthly rental options; however, Regus differs from WeWork in the variability of its office sizes, and its more traditional office aesthetic.
“Everybody has different needs. If you’re selling insurance, you don’t want to be in an environment that’s super relaxed,” says Darren, a Regus representative. “Folks like Regus because it’s more executive, it’s more dark-wood-and-brass, it’s more professional — not so professional that it’s stuffy; it’s still a relaxed environment.”
As a means of accommodating these different needs, Regus spaces lack the uniformity of WeWork offices, and as such vary much more widely in prices. “You can find a co-working space in Oklahoma and be paying $220 a month, or you can be in San Francisco paying $600,” Darren says.
To counter this variability, many small businesses opt for a Regus Membership, which is extremely flexible. You choose how many days a month you want to work, either in an open coworking space or nondedicated office, and can work in any Regus location the world over; it makes Regus an excellent fit for businesses with workers who travel consistently and who want to work on the road.
“Our memberships are great if you travel a lot and don’t want to hemorrhage money on a full-time office. You have global access to any of our locations. The space is used as if you are booking in and out of a hotel,” says Daniel.
Regus’s nondedicated member offices are provided on a first-come, first-served basis, to enable flexibility in use. They also have site-dedicated community managers and community associates at all locations to handle administrative services, such as reception and mail delivery. Plus they have all the trappings you’d expect in an office: small kitchenette, on-site printing, and coffee.
An office Regus Membership plan with unlimited monthly use will set you back $600 if purchased on a month-to-month basis, with discounts offered to those who purchase plans of a longer duration — such as a two-year membership, which is only $509 per month instead. Unlimited use of its coworking spaces can go as low as $226 per month.
While a more expensive option, it’s hard to beat Regus’s flexibility and global offerings when compared with other coworking spaces.
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ServCorp markets itself as an upgrade to the traditional coworking business model, offering additional perks that you may not get with companies like Regus or WeWork.
Besides offering both coworking and office spaces, ServCorp also provides secretary and receptionist services, high-speed internet (it has its own dedicated internet service provider and dedicated bandwidth), luxe leather and granite accommodations, and offices in high-profile buildings — its offices across the United States are in recognizable buildings that inform the skyline of each city they’re in. There are carved-out desirable offices in New York’s One World Trade Center, Chicago’s River Point, and Boston’s One International Place.
As such, ServCorp aims to elevate the status of small businesses and startups operating on a tight budget by providing high-class accommodations that rival those of well-established ventures. What it lacks in quantity (ServCorp currently has just 22 offices across the United States), it certainly makes up for in quality.
And just like its competitors, you can rent an office or coworking space on a month-to-month basis, with the option to renegotiate your space size at the end of each term. In terms of quality of service and flexibility, ServCorp is hard to beat.
That being said, it’s definitely the priciest option on this list, with offices starting at $1,000 a month and coworking rates at $200 a person. At least you get what you pay for.
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Industrious’s chic interior design evokes a lot of comparisons to WeWork, its closest aesthetic cousin.
While Industrious does have many of the same perks as WeWork (fresh coffee, printing, reception desk, on-site events), Industrious prides itself on “a thoughtful balance of space types.”
This means that it’s not just cubicles and small offices as far as the eye can see, but a mix of areas for intense focus, brainstorming, and collaborating. CEO and co-founder Jamie Hodari himself branded Industrious as “a more nuanced experience” in coworking than its main competitor.
Industrious, therefore, brands itself as an alternative to WeWork for those seeking a more dynamic office space; if your business has operated in a WeWork before, but it wasn’t a good fit, you may want to check out one of Industrious’s 60-plus locations across 34 U.S. cities.
Industrious is also one of the more expensive coworking options, with some private offices going for upward of $1,000 and coworking memberships starting around $450 per month — unlike Regus, they don’t do day or weeklong memberships. Its rates vary widely by city; check out the quotes available on its site to see if you can make it work for your small business.
5. The Yard
While not as widely spread as the other companies on this list, The Yard has emerged as a solid option for small businesses looking for urbane coworking solutions on the East Coast.
With offices in New York, Philly, D.C., and Boston, The Yard offers monthly memberships with the availability of upgrading or downgrading your space as necessary. Like other options on this list, your monthly rate is also discounted more the longer your lease is.
“Flexibility is something that our small business members are really looking for,” says Tara Maylyn Frankel Leavitt, a representative for The Yard. “Not only does The Yard provide hundreds of local perks and amenities, like Citibike membership in NYC or partnering with Leaa.io to provide concierge medical visits, but we enable our members to visit and work from any of our other locations in NYC, Boston, D.C., or Philadelphia at no extra charge.”
What distinguishes The Yard from other spaces on this list is its fresh approach to coworking, with a personal touch.
“We are a hospitality-focused coworking company. Our staff really embodies this ethos and truly showcase our investment in the success of our small business members,” Leavitt adds. “This level of service and attention is something that you don’t receive at other spaces who are focused on their own bottom line.”
“For a growing small business, having someone who is always working on your behalf is an undeniable asset,” Leavitt says.
This extends to The Yard’s aesthetic flourishes, which include a frequently changing Art Program. “Every location is refreshed with a new art exhibit every three months, and reception events to meet and chat with the artists and curators,” says Leavitt. “Members love to invite friends to these receptions to show off their space.” Add to that complimentary conference room hours and curated networking events, and you’ve got another stylish option for your business’s HQ.
Pricing for spaces at The Yard can be as low as $275 a month for use of its open coworking spaces, but three-desk offices can be pricier, at $1,400 a month. Many of its locations are pet-friendly to boot, but you’ll want to inquire with the building management ahead of signing that lease.
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If your business has a focus on developing tech, the aptly named Techspace is a savvy choice for a coworking space.
This is largely due to the technological infrastructure at every Techspace location. Built from the ground up to foster the latest in innovation, Techspace boasts some of the fastest internet available for a commercial office.
Gigabyte speed internet (much faster than the traditional broadband connection) is available at every location, with a heavy emphasis on cybersecurity through the utilization of virtual local area networks (known as VLAN). The combination of VLAN and Gig internet means that Techspace provides a coworking location that is both super secure and super fast. None of the other coworking spaces offer both of these amenities.
With such technological advances paired with open office designs sporting an industrial flair, it’s no secret why Techspace has helped incubate giants like Spotify and Twitch. And if you’re looking to be the next Steve Jobs, it might be a better location than operating out of a garage, though the one in New York does have a funky garage door in its space.
Like all other coworking companies, Techspace offers flexible start and end dates. Private offices will set you back $2,940 for a company of three to four people, but you can use their shared, common area coworking space for as low as $350 a person per month.
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Another coworking space geared toward emergent tech, what Galvanize may lack in technological resources it makes up for in human capital.
Galvanize isn’t just a workspace — it’s also a coding school for professionals transitioning careers, offering immersive courses in Python, data science, and software engineering, often taught by entrepreneurs and tech wizards who are at the front of their field.
The coworking space and the coding school co-exist on the same campuses, which have popped up in eight cities across the United States, and even though they are separate institutions with different pay structures, their proximity inevitably leads to collaboration.
The genius of Galvanize’s business model comes from having both burgeoning tech companies and hungry fresh talent under the same roof.
It’s a perfect setup for startups that are on the rise and looking for more hands to take on the growing nature of their work. Companies will often recruit directly from graduates of Galvanize’s on-site intensive programs. On top of this, students have access to mentorship from industry experts simultaneously.
In short, Galvanize excels in its capacity to coalesce new businesses, new talent, and established expertise in a way that is targeted and industry specific. Use of Galvanize’s coworking spaces charts in at roughly $400 per month per person, with private suites starting at $1,700 per month, and the option to rent on a month-by-month basis.
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Picking the Best Coworking Space for You
Choosing a coworking space boils down to three main components: pricing, flexibility, and amenities.
Some spaces on this list like ServCorp can offer incredible spaces at a singular, fixed location, while others like WeWork and Industrious offer mid-grade accommodations at a variety of different locales.
You’ll want to assess what’s most important to your business before locking in a membership at any of these spots.
Take a look at what’s core to your operations. Do you want to wow clients with an impressive view?
Or are you often on the road drumming up new contracts in cities across the country? Does the extra $500 a month for a view of the Empire State Building really make sense when you’re tight on cash?
Take stock of what’s important to you and your small business before choosing your new HQ — then get to work.
Pros and Cons of Coworking Spaces
Coworking spaces can be a divisive issue among professionals working in small businesses and startups. While offering the amenities of a modern office at a lower cost, the close proximity of businesses and lack of privacy can lead to occasionally claustrophobic conditions. We asked four professionals for their candid opinions to gauge what it’s really like to operate in a shared office, and if it’s worth the price:
Cassidy (The Yard)
Cassidy works at a media company outside of Washington, D.C.
“The close nature of work doesn’t really bother me as it does some people. [My company] has a dedicated office, so provided I have a desk to sit at and can put my headphones in, I can get my job done, no problem,” she says. “I sometimes wish I had a bit more space, but I can always dip out and walk around the neighborhood if I feel cramped. My boss [who pays for the office] seems pretty satisfied with our accommodations.”
Jack works in tech in New York City and says of his coworking space, “It can be hard to be productive and take advantage of the services here. Like, I don’t even know how to book a conference room. But there is some good interactions with other businesses in the same space.”
Isaac a communications specialist from Los Angeles.
“I find it nicer than your average office,” he says. “It’s a modern and updated space that is clearly designed for you to feel good in. Free coffee is nice, plus the facilities are always clean. Just a result of it being a coworking space it can be hard to find somewhere more quiet to get work done. It can sometimes feel like a working space in a college library. Everyone else loved having it as an option for work, and it got its fair share of use.”
Manali worked at a microfinancing startup in Lower Manhattan and says, “I liked that coworking spaces let you interact with people who are not a part of your industry or company (or even field of work). Especially if you’re working at a startup and trying to test/optimize your ideas. Coworking spaces help you bounce your ideas [off of] people who could have a completely different view. I disliked the working culture. They’re worth it depending on what stage of business you’re in — like for startups, they’re great.”