The future of coworking is — ironically — in private offices

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When Charlotte was first introduced to coworking, communal workplaces were the main attraction.

The city’s first coworking companies featured large, open floor plans. People who used to camp out in coffee shops or at their kitchen tables could buy a membership and gain access to shared desks and high-speed Internet — and community.

Now it’s all about the private offices.

The communal workspace hasn’t gone away, but dedicated office space for small teams is moving to the forefront for coworking spaces large and small.

People working there get all the benefits of the coworking space as a whole — the programming, the common areas and the coffee — while also having a door that locks and a quiet place to discuss sensitive business.

For one, the demand is there. Coworking spaces across the city say there are not enough offices to serve everybody who wants one.

And from a business perspective, leasing private offices makes a lot more sense. The price is higher, leases generally run longer than the month-to-month coworking memberships, and there’s more stability.

Here’s how it is playing out.

Advent Coworking just opened its first suite of 23 offices that were full from Day 1. The company is now looking at expanding and building more private offices.

“I’ve always struggled with what would happen if you give people the opportunity to close their door,” said Advent founder Kevin Giriunas. But he said the early results have been promising — almost like a dorm-style atmosphere where companies in the office suite are mixing and mingling.

Hygge has also structured its third Charlotte location around private offices in response to demand.

The big national players in the coworking space are entering the Charlotte market with this strategy.

  • Industrious Coworking, which recently opened on the 27th floor of Bank of America Plaza, only has 6 memberships without dedicated space, compared with 101 private offices.
  • WeWork, which is opening a coworking space on Stonewall Street, will have 200 offices ringing a much smaller communal space. The company also leads with private offices in its marketing and web copy.

WeWork via Facebook

So what separates coworking from a standard leased office?

As spaces shifts to private offices, coworking companies say there remains a significant difference between your typical keyman building or Regus office.

The biggest: An emphasis on community. People leasing offices in coworking spaces generally want to take part in group activities and benefit from the companies around them.

At Industrious, there’s communal breakfast each morning and snack time in the afternoons to serve as floor-wide draws.

“The programming is built in,” Giriunas said. “It’s an easy way to meet othe folks.”

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Andrew Dunn
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