At one point during the early pandemic, many believed the coworking industry might be on the brink of extinction. WeWork, by far the industry’s largest player, fumbled an IPO and faced a dire financial shortfall. The fast adoption of virtual work has cast doubt on the future of the physical office. A hybrid approach, in which staffers split time between remote and in-person work, seems to be where things will land. CBRE reports that 51 percent of people expect flex spaces to make up a major portion of their offices in the next two years. In that environment, coworking might end up thriving. But not necessarily in its pre-pandemic form.
According to Ebbie Wisecarver, WeWork’s global head of design, the coworking giant is moving away from its earlier business model as client demands change. Larger companies now form nearly 50 percent of WeWork’s business, which was once dominated by freelancers and entrepreneurs. Instead of paying to maintain a flashy corporate office, large businesses have started renting WeWork’s state-of-the-art, centrally located hubs and equipping employees with all-access passes so they can work from any of its 756 facilities across the globe.
As large companies increasingly gravitate toward hybrid setups and coworking, freelancers, start-ups, and entrepreneurs might opt for shared spaces tailored to their specific needs and communities. After more than two years of remote work, a well-designed communal office teeming with like-minded peers and unlimited coffee is an easy sell.
Niche concepts are seeing a resurgence, such as The Nest by Cherryduck Studios in London, which is outfitted with recording studios and post-production facilities for photography and film. Wellness-themed spaces like Perth’s new Vitality House offer movement studios, infrared saunas, and ice baths to help alleviate work stress during the day.
Spaces designed with the creative set in mind are also taking shape, from Valencia’s Cabinette, which provides members a welcome dose of inspiration and whimsy thanks to West Anderson–like pastel interiors by Masquespacio. Over in New York, The Malin’s winning formula of productivity and thoughtful design by the team behind Irish furniture mainstay Orior has proven so successful that the venture plans to open two new locations in Williamsburg and the West Village later this year.
Only time will tell if niche spaces have staying power, but demand is growing. Below are three such spaces that caught our eye.
For itinerant executives and one-percenters sick of taking high-stakes calls in hotel lobbies or loud restaurants, Colette may be their place. Developed by Edmond Safra and restaurateur Juan Santa Cruz of London’s buzzy Casa Cruz, the ultra-exclusive member’s club meets coworking space will occupy the entire 37th floor of New York’s GM Building and feature 23 private offices with video-conferencing hookups and access to a fitness center. Santa Cruz hand-picked Colette’s Alcantra fabrics and uniforms for staffers, who can prepare coffee, call cars, and usher guests into meetings. These features, which Santa Cruz expects will “set [Colette] apart,” will run members a cool $125,000 initiation fee and $36,000 per year when it opens in March.
Founded by interior designer Bridgid Coulter Cheadle in an airy Culver City warehouse, Blackbird was envisioned with the needs of BIPOC women in mind. “I felt so much benefit [from co-working spaces] and had the audacity to think there should be one centered on us, so we can focus on the things that we need,” Coulter Cheadle tells WorkLife. So she brought the space to life with artworks by Black talents, jewel tones, and community programming tackling themes like entrepreneurship and the blockchain. Amenities abound—not only can working moms use a nursing area, but members can access a podcast studio, yoga rooms, and a pop-up of local Black-owned coffee shop Sip and Wonder.
Cannabis entrepreneurs can now congregate at Green Street, a weed-friendly community hub founded by Rama Mayo, backed by Gary Vaynerchuck, and filled with offices, galleries, and flexible spaces in a seven-story building in Downtown L.A.’s historic jewelry district. Retrofitted by local architecture firm M-Rad, the incubator is slated to become an all-in-one hotspot fully dedicated to advancing California’s burgeoning cannabis industry. Members can access four levels of communal and private office suites, a coworking space, spa, private performance bar, testing facilities, speakeasy, rooftop lounge, 240-seat restaurant, and Alta, an event space that can accommodate up to 300 guests.