For most startups, change isn’t just a familiar concept — it’s a necessity. From fundamental strategic shifts in a business model to major staffing overhauls, the ability to adapt and evolve is often the difference between failure and long-term success for a growing company.
It’s no mystery, then, why the number of startups seeking the flexibility of a co-working environment to house their nascent operations continues to grow. In fact, researchers expect by the end of this year about 1.7 million people worldwide will be operating, in some capacity, in a co-working facility.
As a founder of a global co-working provider, I first noticed shifts in the office market years ago when evolving work styles and office configuration trends catalyzed demand for flexible, collaborative spaces. After pinpointing the advantages that companies have with this flexible space, my passion for design and aesthetics spurred my idea of launching my own co-working company with a unique emphasis on style and experience.
The logic is fairly straightforward: Pricing for co-working space is often lower than leasing traditional space, and lease cancelation terms are typically quite flexible. In short, when the future of your business model (and your wallet) is uncertain, the co-working environment provides an efficient and flexible home for your company.
But what about when a company has surpassed startup status? What happens when a business achieves financial and structural stability and seemingly outgrows its co-working space’s hot desks and private suites? In the past, the next logical step would have been for the company to make the leap to its own dedicated workspace in a traditional office. But days of this misconception are long gone and the next logical steps, for companies of various sizes, have evolved.
Co-working facilities are more and more becoming viable long-term options for medium-to-large businesses, including major multinational corporations. One CBRE study found in 2017 that approximately 44% of corporations are already using some kind of flexible workspace for at least a portion of its employees, and a majority of global enterprises are planning on utilizing co-working space in the real estate strategy by 2020.
Even for companies not on the scale of global corporate giants, co-working spaces offer a host of advantages for the “grown-up” business:
Full service: Quality co-working operators not only provide workspace for your team to grow and create, but most offer full-service amenities that ultimately eliminate the hassle of managing workspaces from companies.
Community: As your company grows, it becomes easier to (unintentionally) create an insular “bubble” around your employees. Co-working facilities offer a natural environment in which to collaborate and cross-pollinate with other creative minds. Even passive exposure to other businesses can be extraordinarily valuable when it comes to sparking new, innovative ideas, contextualizing your company in the broader business world and creating new relationships that could lead to new business developments.
Geographical flexibility: It’s no secret that few businesses today are chained to their desks; a globalized economy requires a company to be geographically nimble as it grows. Changes in how and where people work from make it difficult for companies to predict their long-term occupancy needs in every geography, and thus signing long-term leases in every location makes no sense for such companies. Some worldwide co-working spaces allow subscribers to check in to any of their locations throughout the world, providing an on-demand, fully equipped workspace so employees are not shacked up in tiny hotel rooms.
Inspiration: For some co-working providers, design isn’t just aesthetic — it’s functional. Even as your staff grows, the ability to offer multiple physical settings within the workplace can aid in productivity, simply by breaking the monotony of one’s desk space. Our spaces employ a philosophy called design thinking, where locally inspired design and furniture elements are specifically geared to accommodate a variety of work functions, from collaborative shared spaces to quiet, insulated rooms for individuals.
Big business accommodations: The co-working industry is no longer composed solely of open floor plans with communal tables. For larger businesses, it’s now possible to customize your company’s accommodations to include team suites, dedicated conferencing facilities and tailored amenities and necessities (like security and privacy). Enterprises increasingly have the ability to choose the best of both worlds: private workspaces with access to a broader community of creators.
Accounting: Starting January 1, 2019, new accounting regulations will convert any leases into a finance lease. This might sound boring to non-CFOs, but the impact of a long-term lease on a firm’s balance sheet is going to be material. A flexible space as a service offering is going to become much more attractive for many companies, if only for this reason.
Of course, not every company will be a fit for the co-working environment. There are many organizations in which the corporate culture is largely predicated on its own, custom designed workspace or campus. Still, many multinational corporations opt to provide satellite co-working offices for individual creative teams.
Businesses making the transition from startup to enterprise inherently face a litany of challenges and tough decisions. But, with the evolution of the co-working model, choosing a workspace might not be one of them.
This article was originally published in: https://www.forbes.com