Not too long ago a shared office space was just a desk, a chair and maybe a coffee machine. Basically, it was a place for freelancers or entrepreneurs to work when they couldn't stand working in their pajamas in the kitchen any longer. The idea has caught on so fast that today’s shared work spaces are decked out more like hotels than offices, with designer furniture, trendy music and the freshest snacks and coffee.
“The main benefits of this kind of setup are camaraderie,small startups can be lonely, knowledge sharing, high energy, culture, and cost sharing”, said venture capitalist, Fred Wilson of Union Square Ventures. “I have heard so many stories of software developers walking to the other side of the office to talk to software developers working for another company about a thorny tech issue.”
With all this interest it's no surprise that there are a glut of choices in New York. Once you decide you want to get out of your pajamas, how do you choose the best work space for you? We took a look inside five of the best coworking spaces in Manhattan.
Photo: WeWork Soho West
WeWork is one of the largest and best known players in the market. Founded just five years ago it already has 49 open or soon to launch offices in 12 major U.S. cities as well as sites in Amsterdam, London and Israel. There are 19 WeWork locations in New York alone, dotted around Manhattan from Times Square to Soho to Downtown, and there’s also a Brooklyn option in Dumbo. Renters choose between three membership options; Offices, Desks and Commons. The Commons membership gets you high speed internet, access to the general open space with couches and coffee tables, kitchens and of course free coffee, but you’ll have to pay extra for meeting rooms. Commons members get access during office hours, which are 9 a.m. - 6 p.m. or 9 p.m. depending on location.
Desk members get 24/7 access, their own dedicated desk space and 12 hours free use of conference rooms per month. Office options cater to companies of one to 100 employees and amenities differ by location.
Neuehouse is the Rolls-Royce of shared offices. The New York location at 110 East 25th Street is one of just three worldwide, the others being in London and L.A. Entering the office feels like stepping into the lobby of a five star hotel. Everything looks expensive, from leather hide throws on the couches to the Bond villain swivel chairs. On top of what WeWork offers you also get use of a broadcasting studio, a cinema and a private dining space. Members pay an annual fee, which Neuehouse said it doesn’t advertise, but is significantly more expensive than competitors for use of the communal areas, where they can upgrade to get use of desks, offices and other amenities.
“It’s not an office, it’s a collective” is the tagline for this offering from mobile app agency Fueled. The sole location in the Prince building in Soho has hosted notable startups like Thrillist, ZocDoc and Foursquare. It offers the usual coffee and snacks, elegant library rooms, a ping pong table and even a popcorn machine. For $800 per month you get all this 24/7 plus a desk to sit at.
The Projective Space offers two very different locations in the Lower East Side. The first at 72 Allen Street is a traditional shared office, with a communal space and also some dedicated workstations. This third floor loft has a bright minimalist design and offers the usual coffee, snacks as well as free beer.
The second location is a space above the hip Freeman’s restaurant. It is decorated more like a country estate that an office space, featuring library walls, paisley couches and some taxidermy. There is communal workspace, but it’s more intended for events and meetings and there is no kitchen or desk space.
Located at the northern end of Silicon Alley in Midtown, this 16,000 sq foot space is a mainstay of the New York tech scene. In addition to offering shared and private desks the community organizes and hosts monthly events like speaking series with Angel Investors, hackathons and weekly Wednesday evening happy hours. Alley NYC is also adding an exclusive new Chelsea location which is currently open on an invite only basis to select startups.