Coworking in America: What does it look like today?


Intro: Who Am I?

Hi everyone! My name is Jessie and I am currently an MBA student at Hotelschool the Hague Amsterdam studying International Hospitality. I am in the last phase of my studies in which I am conducting my thesis in the form of a consultancy project. I am conducting my project for Seats2Meet International, in which for the next several weeks I will be researching the coworking industry. More specifically, as S2M is in the process of expansion, I am trying to understand the American market and how S2M fits into it. Currently there are several “powered by locations” in the United States, but S2M is not seeing the same success in the USA as it is in other parts of the world.

Over the next several weeks, I am trying to make sense of this mystery. What does the American coworking climate look like? What are American coworkers looking for in a coworking space and what is important to them? Are there any companies interested in partnering with S2M or launching a pilot coworking program? Not only will I be conducted desk research, I plan to also interview coworking experts in America and users of coworking spaces. With that said, if you are a current S2M user in the USA or are familiar with the coworking environment in America please reach out! I would love the opportunity to speak with you 😊As I mentioned above, I will be posting columns regularly in the upcoming weeks to share what I have learned in the process!

A closer look at coworking in the USA

While coworking can mean different things to different people, one thing that we can all agree on is that coworking is everywhere—it’s continuing to grow and does not seem like it is going to slow down anytime soon. In 2017, there was a reported 15,500 coworking spaces worldwide, and that number is expected to grow by at least 3,000 more spaces by the end of 2018. While coworking spaces are continuing to pop up throughout the world, the regions boasting the most spaces are Asia/Pacific India, the United States, and Europe. As Europe is just behind the United States in terms of number of coworking spaces, let us take a closer look at the United States coworking environment. What is making it so successful? And more importantly, what types of coworking spaces exist?

Growth is happening! And it doesn’t look like it will stop….

When looking to coworking literature, Brad Neuberg is often considered the “starter of the coworking movement” when he launched Spiral Muse in San Francisco in 2005. What began with just one coworking space in the United States in 2005 has spiraled to over 3,000 locations in a little over a decade. A key trend underpinning such growth in the US market is that not only are large companies buying up space, but independent and entrepreneurial operators are too! In fact, the top 10 operators in the US in terms of number of centers only account for 34% of the market. In comparison to the large operators, independent operators have focused more so on creating specific spaces for niche audiences. As such, it seems that the local and independent coworking operator has a strong association with their membership base. Independent operators tend to have a better understanding of the local market; thus they have the market knowledge and confidence to build a space catering to a particular form of demand.

Who are the Independent operators?

Of course, coworking is growing at rapid paces so new operators are popping up daily. With that said, in the past year there are several notable independent operators that have grown quickly and are making themselves known within the American coworking community. One such company, Industrious, will have 50 locations nationwide by the end of 2018.  While Industrious is a coworking space, users range from freelancers to Fortune 500 teams. This means that when you walk into an Industrious space, you will find startups sitting alongside teams from GM and Hyatt. Industrious focuses on creating a comfortable and hospitable environment driven by community. Most importantly, the offices are a space that combine fun and serious business. Individuals can be proud to host a board meeting or important event at an Industrious space.

Another coworking space, Level Office, launched in 2007 and caters primarily to small businesses, entrepreneurs and freelancers. With over 20 locations, private office rooms and suites are available for rent in addition to individual coworking memberships. Level Office purchases the building it operates in and renovates/invests in the building to offer relatively low prices in a competitive market. Furthermore, all Level Office locations are open and accessible 24/7.

Last but not least, an updated 1776 launched in April as the result of a merger between two small coworking chains, Benjamin’s Desk (based in Philadelphia) and Washington-based 1776. 1776 is focusing on becoming the leading coworking space in the Northeast Corridor by investing in cities “often overlooked by investors, by the media, and by talented people whose skills can change the world.” With 9 locations, 1776 aims to provide entrepreneurs and start-ups with the resources and space it needs in order to grow. Furthermore, by being a member of 1776, one has access to expert mentors who can help startups as they interact with problems and to markets via corporate partners.

So where does S2M fit into the equation?

As American coworking spaces continue to increase in number, so do the amount of options for coworkers to choose from. As such, I plan to further evaluate the American market to understand how Seats2meet can strategically position itself in such a highly competitive environment. However, as previously stated, the demand in America is not fully being met yet which leaves S2M with space to investigate untapped markets. As we say in America, you need to strike while the iron is hot! Meaning, now is the time for S2M to dig deeper to understand the pains and gains of American customers, thus being able to demonstrate why Seats2meet is the solution to their needs. With that said, the best way to understand the customer is by speaking with them. Which leads me to my next step…. I will be reaching out customers and coworking space users and owners to have a conversation about they encounter their coworking space on a daily basis. I will be sure to check in soon with updates!

And of course, if you are a current freelancer, entrepreneur, or coworker based in the USA- please reach out 😊