Coworking is booming. At this year’s Global Coworking Unconference Conference, Carsten Foertsch, the founder of Deskmag -- a whole magazine devoted to, yes, coworking -- predicted that by 2018, more than one million people will conduct business from a shared space. WeWork has dominated the market since launching in 2010, but the industry is quickly diversifying to cater to niche needs. Here are five alternatives.
“A lot of coworking companies seem built to fulfill the fantasies of male 20-something engineers,” says Industrious CEO Jamie Hodari. But Industrious goes above and beyond to offer inclusivity instead. The company’s 12 locations across the country have private rooms for nursing moms to pump milk, and recently, Hodari says, “our regional director in New York took three hours out of her day to help a member prepare for her citizenship test.” The approach clicks: Industrious raised $37 million in funding in September.
Technically, Croissant isn’t a coworking space. It’s an app. Through it, remote workers can “rent” available desks at established coworking spaces in New York, San Francisco, Boston and D.C. Croissant offers three monthly subscription plans that range from $39 to $299 -- far less than most coworking memberships. “We just wanted to meet for a couple of hours a week, so $400 per person for one location didn't make sense for us,” says cofounder Nisha Garigan.
Business District is for professionals who care less about free beer and more about the flagship office’s brag-worthy home in an I.M. Pei-designed building. Matt LoGuidice founded the Boston-based company after time spent overseeing his East Coast property management business out of a shared space in Los Angeles. “I couldn’t find a center that occupied the niche I wanted -- a center that feels more like a boutique hotel,” he says, explaining his design sense. “We might be the only center of its type in the country where every office has an adjustable-height Herman Miller desk.”
“We often become the destination for individuals who have ‘graduated’ from coworking as their business grows, either by way of capital raised or by new customer acquisition,” says TechSpace CEO Vic Memenas. TechSpace’s offices sport a slick aesthetic -- more like what you’d expect from a corporate office than a startup -- and cater to entire teams working in offices, rather than individuals camping out on sofas.
Grind has a serious media pedigree: Three of its founders hail from Behance, Cool Hunting and creative consultancy Co:Collective. Upworthy, the viral content creator, is a member, as are plenty of bloggers, artists and photojournalists. To foster collaboration between its members (or “Grindists”), Grind marks off 30 to 50 percent of its floors to common space.
Playful and outdoorsy
El Camp, a young coworking venture in Los Angeles, is designed like a summer camp -- right down to the wooden mess hall and outdoor fire pit. “It’s to tap into the idea of childlike creativity and curiosity,” says Jessica Kim, the community manager. To join El Camp, members need two things: a job in the advertising world and a desire to help the El Camp community. “We are all about sharing resources and capabilities,” Kim says. With that ethos, El Commune might be a more fitting name for this feel-good workplace.