Coworking is often considered as particular to startup companies, or something entrepreneurs do-- even nomads, perhaps-- anyway, something people do when they don't have their permanent working solution figured out. Coworking listings and news readily pop up under entrepreneurial support pages (check this one out, Columbus: https://themetropreneur.com/columbus/category/connecting/community-support-features/).
The idea is, of course, that businesses that are just starting out can take advantage of the cost savings of coworking. Or perhaps a nomadic workforce not entirely committed to a particular location prefers the non-committal aspect of coworking. After all, a membership to a coworking space has become as easy as a gym membership; commercial leases are a different story altogether. It makes sense: coworking is indeed a great solution for startups, entrepreneurs, and nomads, to name a few groups usually targeted by the copywriters of the nation's largest chains (WeWork has an entire program dedicated to "early stage startups": https://www.wework.com/labs/).
While there is nothing wrong with dreams of moving out of a coworking space to your very own brick-and-mortar location, complete with a novel-length lease agreement entirely in your name, there is something to be said about the benefits of coworking for established businesses, as part of a mature business strategy.
Cost Savings: good for entrepreneurs, good for all
Depending on where you live, real estate can run pretty pricey. It's obvious that coworking can save your business a significant amount on rent or mortgage payments. But what about all the other stuff? With property ownership come maintenance expenses and a host of insurance expenses. Not an owner? Well, consider the utilities you have to pay for your rental. While all these expenses are considered in a coworking contract, members all benefit from shared expenses, also considered in the contract. Of course there's also the benefit that someone else deals with the headache of paying all the bills: trash, gas, electric, water and sewer, internet, insurance... You might as well add time savings to the numerous benefits of coworking (and you know what they say, time is money)!
Connectivity: good for the startups, good for all
Never has there ever been a case study in which being connected as a business turned out to be a bad strategy. With all businesses vying for better positions in Google search listings (SEO, anyone?), more followers on social media, and exposure within the community it seems connectivity is the name of the game. Another name for this same game? Networking. Up to 85% of jobs are filled through networking, a number to take note of whether you're doing the job seeking or the hiring. Check out the source statistics here: https://www.payscale.com/career-news/2017/04/many-jobs-found-networking, and then reconsider the benefits of proximity to fellow business owners that is a hallmark characteristic of coworking spaces. Tangential to the idea of connectivity is the idea of access to learning from others (fellow members as well as speakers and as a result of participation in space-organized educational events).
Risk mitigation: just plain good for everyone
I once attended a lecture given by a business consultant for a theater group. He had been put in charge of projecting all the possible time and cost delays as well as pitfalls for the production. Among other things he planned for were the deaths of any of the lead actors. That's right, deaths. Grim, not probable, but, possible. He was just doing his job-- and let me just say, he was very valued by his employer. They had about ten contingency plans in place.
Here's something else that just last year would have been considered grim, not probable, but possible: a global health crisis, a pandemic, COVID-19.
The response of the US public and private sectors to the pandemic? Hugely varied. Maybe your business got lucky and qualified for financial assistance from the government (that actually came on time). Maybe your landlord was stellar and helped you keep your business afloat by not charging rent (or figuring out another payment plan that worked for you). Maybe, however, you didn't qualify for funding. Maybe your landlord couldn't offer you any deal. Maybe you had to close your brick and mortar location. Did you have a back up plan in place?
A membership at a coworking space, besides being less costly over time, mitigating your long-term space costs, would have likely been a lower risk option with a greater variety of contingency plans. As the owner of a coworking space I can safely say that as my revenue streams are diversified (I collect membership fees from more businesses for the same space, I rent out meeting rooms, I rent out the pop up shop, and so on) I can also be more flexible in times of crisis. Maybe someone can't pay due to extraordinary circumstances-- I likely can afford to come up with a price solution because of my other revenue streams. Often my flexibility is passed on to member businesses; I'm not saying this will always be the case for all coworking members, but I can say that I likely wouldn't have been able to be so flexible had I been dependent on just one large monthly payment from one entity in one space.
In the age of uncertainty, coworking could be your surest bet:
So, coworking is absolutely fantastic for entrepreneurs, startups and nomads. But coworking is also absolutely fantastic for established businesses. In the age of uncertainty, coworking could be the surest bet.