Can Coworking Go Corporate?

Can Coworking Go Corporate?

The flexible workplace market is large and growing, as more knowledge workers are able to do their jobs remotely. The core clientele for providers of coworking spaces has so far encompassed entrepreneurs, freelancers, scrappy startups, and nonprofit organizations, but one major player in the market, WeWork, has begun reaching out to large corporations as well, “betting that firms will trade suburban office parks and bland commercial towers for its hip, urban workspaces,” Rachel Feintzeig reports at the Wall Street Journal:

General Electric, KPMG LLP and Cognizant Technology Solutions Corp. already house some employees in WeWork offices around the globe, and the 90-location WeWork is making a concentrated push to both land more corporate customers and spur existing ones to take on more space. A 10-person sales team is out pitching companies and chasing leads, and WeWork recently posted a job for a head of enterprise sales to grow membership among Fortune 1000 companies.

Central to WeWork’s pitch is the idea that cool workspaces help woo young talent and inject energy into the office. Artie Minson, WeWork’s president and chief financial officer, calls it “a lifestyle brand around working.” Member fees vary by location, but enterprise members pay a discounted rate in exchange for volume and length of lease. In one Manhattan WeWork, a private office with seats for eight currently costs $6,250 a month.

It’s easy to see why this might be attractive, at least to some employers. Considering the increasingly well-understood benefits of workplace autonomy for employee happiness, engagement, and productivity, plus the social and creative stimulation that can come from working out of coworking spaces, housing employees in flexible work spaces is not only potentially cheaper than giving them a permanent desk in an office park, it may actually improve both work and life for certain employees. Of course, this arrangement won’t work for every employee—or for every employer, depending on its culture and line of business—but it will be interesting to see how much success WeWork and other coworking vendors have in pitching their product to legacy corporations.