One only has to look at WeWork’s impressive funding track record to acknowledge that coworking spaces are probably more than just a fad: To-date, the company has $9.1 billion in funding, and that success has spread throughout the industry. According to the Global Coworking Unconference Conference (GCUC), 1.74 million people currently work out of shared spaces, and that number is expected to grow to 5.1 million by 2022.
So what’s the draw of working at a coworking space? We talked to seven professionals who let us know whether or not it was worth the hype.
Peter Korbel is the founder and CEO of StoreMe, a mobile company that enables on-demand storage of luggage and bags in retail stores. He runs his business out of NoMad’s Blender Workspace — a shared space he also co-founded.
“It's a great opportunity to meet ambitious people starting companies and to leverage talent to help propel my company forward,” Korbel said. “My marketing team and customer support team work out of Blender as well, which makes collaborating much more accessible and productive. We’re surrounded by like-minded people with similar goals who want to create and impact the world in a super positive way.”
In 2012, Vidyuth Srinivasan co-founded Entrupy, a company that helps companies verify the authenticity of a product and identify counterfeits. He and his team have worked at a WeWork space in Midtown for the past three years.
“For Entrupy, WeWork has a lot of positives,” Srinivasan said. “First, as a startup doing business globally, not having to worry about the minutiae of workspace management is a huge boon to our productivity. And since we're in fast-growth mode, we appreciate the ability to expand without moving. After all, getting new office space is expensive and time-consuming!
WeWork has also been great for our team and our network. We've met some amazing folks and built great relationships — we've even hired from the community. And lastly, our team loves the random events and perks like coffee and beer, and that has a huge impact on morale and retention.”
CEO Jeffrey Zhou works at Fig Loans, a company that helps consumers through financial emergencies. The company works out of Company, formerly known as Build at Grand Central Tech. He and his team have been there for the past three years.
“Build has a more corporate and professional atmosphere compared to other spaces because there are fewer pre-seed startups in our coworking space,” Zhou said. “From a business and productivity perspective, working at Build has been particularly great for us as a fintech company because of the location in Midtown near NYC’s established finance companies. The tradeoff for a more professional setting is a tempered office social scene, but I think this creates a better balance for startups with young teams like us who naturally skew more social. While not unique to Build, one of my favorite things is the causal dress code because it makes for a stark contrast when I run into investment banking friends picking up lunch on a humid summer afternoon!”
In 2015, Sales and Marketing VP Dane Andrews co-founded Roam International, a coworking and coliving space for travelers. He’s worked out of KettleSpace since January of 2018, and shared how doing so has affected his productivity.
“I love the strong sense of belonging and the ease with which you can plug right into the community,” Andrews said. “Anyone who has experience working in a coffee shop or hotel lobby knows there's always this underlying pressure to buy something every few hours. But at Kettlespace, you can just be yourself and get things done.”
Pranav Sachdev recently launched Glyph, a direct-to-consumer, animal-free shoe company. He now works out of the WeWork Labs in SoHo, and has been there for several months.
“I've found that being at WeWork Labs has been amazing,” Sachdev said. “Being an entrepreneur can be stressful and lonely at times. WeWork Labs is great because I get to be around other founders going through the same things as me. I've made a lot of friends and have also gotten invaluable help for my startup.”
“Being a solo-entrepreneur has its challenges, but coworking certainly helps combat a lot of them,” Parker said. “One challenge is staying focused, since there’s such a wide variety of tasks that need to be done every day. Having multiple areas in coworking spaces allows me to work in the right space for the task. For example, when I’m working on creative marketing ideas, I’ll take a seat at the couch, but when I’m doing our finances, I’ll go to my quiet desk space.
I love the flexibility of Deskpass because I can pick a coworking space closest to my meetings and work from a different neighborhood whenever I want. Bouncing around to different spaces also allows me to test out a few before we permanently find a home for Send Ribbon.”
Be The Machine is an experiential marketing agency that showcases new technologies. Founder and CEO Patrick West runs the company out of the Gravel Road by Union Square, and has been there for close to four years.
“Working at the Gravel Road space gives our small business what we could normally not afford,” West said. “Some coworking spaces really emphasize communal projects and push companies into forced collaboration. Gravel Road is designed to allow companies like ours to have dedicated space.
Our productivity is much greater at a coworking space than at home offices. We’ve measured work rates at the coworking space and, without a doubt, we get more work done in this space.
There is a healthy amount of interaction with other businesses in our space, but not an excessive amount. It’s good to interact with other small business owners, but there is a major respect for time. Our coworking space allows us to be in a vibrant, active part of NYC where we otherwise could not afford to be located.”