I was in Manhattan week before last and attended the Workspace Association of NY’s (WANY) monthly members meeting and made a short presentation on workspace trends for 2012. If you take a look, you will notice that many of my recent Blog posts are related to how business is using office space as workspace and the associated trends. It was great to meet many of the people I have been doing business with "virtually" for many years.
The day after the meeting I went on a tour of 4 Manhattan Coworking spaces. It was a real education for me to see firsthand how some of the most successful NYC Coworking spaces are operating and to learn more about this trend that has caught fire.
Ray Lindenberg, of Select Office Suites in the Flatiron district of NYC orchestrated the tour. What I found out surprised me. It turns out that the most community oriented Coworking space I saw is actually a Business Center AKA Executive Suite; Ray’s business center. Here are his thoughts on the trip.
As you saw during the tours, one may actually be more apt to find spontaneous, energetic, interactive CO-working interfaces at a truly "serviced" Serviced Office Business Center (BC) than at a CO-working Space, and for good reason.
The 3 Essential COs of CO-working (the 3 big features that make CO-working so deliciously appealing to today's work generations), which are: COoperation, COllaboration and COmmunity (spirit, form and structure) can often be more easily delivered, and less interruptive, when applied in a places that include enclosed offices alongside social, common areas, and that go out of their way to encourage the 3 Essential COs -- like they do at Serviced Office BCs.
You simply don't need to be in an open, wall-less environment to be a good CO-working community provider. Some businesspeople like the open desk plan; some don't; and some can't be in non-private spaces because of how they go about their work, their heavy phone activity, or because of security/confidentiality issues.
Office as a service, relationship and community (as opposed to office as a static location to do work...with "location, location, location" being the prime real estate consideration where one choses to work) is at the core of the whole workspacism movement -- and that includes modern-day CO-working as well as the community-based Serviced Office BC movement that started in the early 90s.
For more background on the advent and distinction of the Serviced Office BC movement that grew out of the Executive Suite BC movement, check out today's Winning Workspaces column on the Business Leader Post. All BCs are not Regus, although roughly 90% share their same category of Executive Suite BCs. The other 10% of the BC world are either Serviced Office BCs or CO-BC hybrids/Workspace Emporiums.
CO-working spaces need to provide an open yet, paradoxically, a relatively quiet environment, sometimes limiting phone activity or volume, as a courtesy to all other attending members (many resembling college libraries)...while at the same time encouraging members to plop-down, brainstorm and collaborate... and that range of open yet reserved interfacing is a compelling, key feature.
At Serviced Office BCs, you can enjoy the privacy of an enclosed office (which gives you the freedom and ability to schedule quiet or loud time -- or face-to-face networking -- if that's what you want). You're also apt to engage in spontaneous, common-area colaborations at a Serviced Office BC, since most people are working behind closed doors, which is what you saw when you visited here, Jim.
This newfangled simultaneous open & closed CO-working model has actually been getting a lot of play by the CO-working Operators these days, as more of them turn to adding fully enclosed offices into their offerings, with the highly popular and respected Coast-to-Coast Operator WeWork going almost exclusively with fully-glass-enclosed offices as their CO-working winning formula.
As for scheduled networking events, Lunch 'N Learns and other business development activities -- they occur just as frequently in Serviced Office BCs as they do in CO-working Spaces. I know I've recently been averaging over 200 per year in my CO-BC hybrid, and have been offering networking events at my spaces for over 20 years.
Open CO-working spaces are more hip and appealing to the more recent work generations, as they offer a different CO-working experience than a truly "serviced" Serviced Office BC. The 3 Essential COs of CO-working take on a different, yet valuable social form at a CO-BC hybrid, Workspace Emporium or Serviced Office BC.
Both forms are great. Both may not agree with everyone's taste. It really depends on how much privacy, or more exactly, the ability to spontaneously pivot from full-concentration space to social/interactive/community activity, and back...and for that, Serviced Office BCs are actually a pretty good option.
Posted on the OfficeFinder LinkedIn Discussion Group on Coworking SpaceCoworking office space , Executive Suites , Flexible Workspace , Office Space Design , Serviced Office Space