Camaraderie and Community: An Insider's View of 4 Coworking Spaces

Camaraderie and Community: An Insider's View of 4 Coworking Spaces

By Justin Biel, trends editor at Grow Wire
7-minute read


In short:

  • The U.S. workforce is spending more and more time working remotely, inspiring some employers to rent desks in coworking spaces for their teams or hire folks who work out of these spaces.

  • Where big-name chains once reigned, niche coworking spaces have emerged to support the increasing number and individual tastes of remote workers.

  • Though all spaces are different, we found a commonality amongst feedback from workers who have logged time at four separate coworking spaces across the nation.


U.S. workers value flexibility in their work schedules more than ever before, and employers are accommodating them. According to surveys from last year, 56 percent of companies allow their employees to do some form of remote work and 43 percent of Americans spent time working remotely

Offsite workers themselves have diverged into varied breeds: They’re now not only freelancers and entrepreneurs but also full-time employees of corporations and members of smaller companies that don’t have large central offices.

As the remote-work trend continues gaining momentum, big-name chains of coworking spaces like WeWork continue to dominate the market. However, a number of niche coworking brands have popped up to provide spaces with more targeted focuses: Today, remote workers can find coworking spaces designed specifically for women, focused on the arts or devoted to sustainability. Almost all feature a community-building component like lecture series, happy hours and meetups to encourage collaboration and friendship between members. 

It can be tough to determine whether a coworking space is worthwhile for you or your company in the first place, let alone which type to visit. Consider the four options below--both big-name and niche--and the feedback from remote workers who’ve spent time there. (Spoiler alert: It’s pretty much all positive.)


WeWork

Locations worldwide

WeWork is arguably the most visible coworking chain in the world, with a presence in over 34 countries and 24 locations in L.A. alone. The company is known for its sleek office spaces in major metropolitan hubs which offer subscriptions for individual “hot desks,” full office suites and more aimed at teams of all sizes, from individual freelancers to startups to departments of large enterprises. 

WeWork is perhaps the most widely recognized chain of coworking spaces. 


🙋‍♂️ I tried it!  
Fritz Nelson worked at WeWork’s locations in Downtown L.A. and Playa Vista as the editor-in-chief of Tom’s Hardware, an online publication about computer hardware and high technology. Grow Wire asked him about his experience.


Grow Wire: What attracted you to WeWork? 

Fritz Nelson: Our workforce was flexible, some of us working from home for a few days and in the office a few days. We didn't want the ongoing full-time expense of renting office space in Culver City, and we frankly didn't need that space any longer. We liked the flexibility of the office space, the location, that we could work in any city out of a WeWork and that we had a place to all come together.


“We liked the flexibility of the office space, the location ... and that we had a place to all come together.”



GW: What was your pattern of use? Did you pay for this space or did your employer? 

FN: Our employer paid for the space. Most people came in at least three times a week. I was only there about once a week.

GW: Did the space really make you more productive and help you grow your network?

FN: I loved the camaraderie of working in a space with my colleagues. But I also thrived on the energy of having so many other companies--mostly startups--around me all the time. You could just feel the energy.

The WeWork office was beautiful, with lounge areas that had leather couches and kitchen tables and a variety of working areas where you could hold meetings or just get away when you didn't want to be in your office. There was always coffee, snacks, fruit-infused water, beer, and there would also be events--sometimes lectures or workshops put on by members or outside groups, or just happy-hour style events to bring people together. 


Green Spaces 

One location in Denver

This “green coworking hub” caters to the environmentally-conscious business community in Denver. Located in the city’s hip RiNo Arts District, Green Spaces is powered entirely by solar energy. Similar to WeWork, members pay a monthly fee for one of various plans, ranging from 10 monthly work days in the space’s lounge area to 24/7 access to a private office accommodating a six-person team.

As an environmentally-conscious coworking space, Green Spaces runs on solar energy.


🙋‍♂️ I tried it! 
Justin Biel works out of Green Spaces as an entrepreneur, freelance writer and trends editor at Grow Wire. Grow Wire asked him about his experience.


Grow Wire: What attracted you to Green Spaces? 

Justin Biel: I was attracted to the affordable pricing and a cool location that was still in downtown Denver but outside the chaos of all the other downtown coworking locations. I thought the environmental component sounded quite interesting as well. For me, it was honestly all about affordability and location. 


GW: What’s your pattern of use? Do you pay for this space or does your employer? 

JB: Green Spaces is a place to visit a couple of days a week to get out of my home office and hole up and work. I’m responsible for paying for the space. I like having all-hours access, so I can go and work late-night in a quiet, private location to knock out projects on deadline and focus on creative work.  


“I like having all-hours access, so I can go and work late-night in a quiet, private location to knock out projects on deadline and focus on creative work.”



GW: Does the space really make you more productive and help you grow your network?

JB: The people there are cool, engaged and friendly. It's great to be around the energy of other entrepreneurs and creative people because I usually spend a lot of time working alone. Community events are intended to develop more business relationships and open up opportunities to meet more clients. It seems like a great place to build friendships with other people in your local community too.

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The Ruby 

One location in San Francisco

The Ruby describes itself as an “arts and letters focused gathering space for creative Bay Area women of all definitions.” The women-only coworking space is intended to build friendships and mutual support amongst female creatives. It’s a fairly young brand with just one location, in San Francisco’s Mission District.

The Ruby hosts workshops and classes for its members.


🙋‍ I tried it! 
Anna Furman works out of The Ruby as a freelance journalist and jewelry maker. Grow Wire asked her about her experience.


Grow Wire: What attracted you to The Ruby?

Anna Furman: The female-focused aspect of the space was extremely important to me. I think women are really good at working collaboratively, thinking creatively and dealing with conflicts diplomatically. Honestly, it's such a joy when I get to work with all-female teams.
 

GW: What's your pattern of use? Do you pay for this space or does your employer?

AF: I've been a member of The Ruby for a little over one year. I pay for the space. I use it about three days a week to work and one day for classes (i.e. I taught a jewelry-making workshop this week). We have weekly community meals and happy hours that are really low-key and lovely.

GW: Does the space really make you more productive and help you grow your network?

AF: When I moved to San Francisco, I joined The Ruby and found a real community. Writing and jewelry-making are lonely endeavors, so it's nice to work in spaces with other women working in creative fields and dealing with similar challenges. 

Because it's just one space, the flagship location in the Mission neighborhood, and Rachel Khong, the founder, drew heavily from her own community--lots of folks are artists, writers and chefs--it feels special … The fact that [this coworking brand] is not VC-backed and getting repackaged for other cities is significant.


“The fact that [this coworking brand] is not VC-backed and getting repackaged for other cities is significant.”



The Riveter 

Six locations across Seattle, Los Angeles and Austin

“Built by women, for everyone,” The Riveter offers membership to all but has benefits geared toward women, like mothers’ rooms. Events and lectures range from ice cream socials to panels on women’s history to movie screenings about female politicians.

The Riveter is a coworking space geared toward females.


🙋‍ I tried it!  
Amiah Sheppard works out of The Riveter’s West L.A. location as a director at Backstage Accelerator L.A., a business accelerator that invests in underrepresented groups including women, persons of color and the LGBTQ community. Grow Wire asked her about her experience.


Grow Wire: What attracted you to The Riveter? 

Amiah Sheppard: The fact that it was built for women but open to everyone was a big draw for me. It meant that the space would strive to be inclusive for all, which many perceive that coworking spaces aren't. As a female and minority-owned company, this focus was important to our CEO because it's important that our guests, which are mostly underrepresented founders, feel welcomed and not off-put by a homogenous co-working space.


GW: What's your pattern of use? Do you pay for this space or does your employer?

AS: My team goes into the office two days a week on average. However, once our [accelerator] cohort starts, it'll be upped to four times a week. Our employer pays for the space. 


GW: Does the space really make you more productive and help you grow your network?

AS: … The space helps me be more productive because I see other people working, so it inspires me to do my work unlike when I'm at home alone and have to focus in solitude. As a venture capitalist looking for new deals, The Riveter is a good spot because lots of early startups are there. We also host an office hour for their members.


“The space helps me be more productive because I see other people working, so it inspires me to do my work.”



🌱 The bottom line

From large chains to niche brands, today’s coworking market offers something for everyone. You or your company may prefer one coworking space over another for its pricing, community events, programming or networking opportunities. Many coworking spaces offer trial days--don’t hesitate to take advantage of this benefit.

Overall, feedback suggests that all coworking spaces offer something attractive by simply allowing usually-remote workers to absorb the “energy” of other professionals. It’s further proof that workplace culture impacts productivity, whether it’s in a corporate office or a coworking space.   


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📚 More on coworking and remote work:

What We Know After 10+ Years of the 'Gig Economy'

4 Standout Companies Explain How They Manage Remote Workers

These 2 Bold Women Turned Their Greatest Workplace Struggle Into a Company