In the past year, we’ve seen how the coworking and flexible workspace movement has attracted not only startups and entrepreneurs, but also the likes of Spotify, IBM, and Airbnb. Flexible workspaces are an attractive solution for companies seeking to revamp their culture, drive innovation, and attract new talent.
Yet, in order to attract this type of client, some workspace and coworking operators will need to re-think their space and their approach to its design.
“A lot of operators are only geared towards startup and coworking culture. It’s great, but there’s a limit to that. There’s a much larger pool of members out there.”
In January this year, Bond Collective opened their Bond 60 Broad location, a workspace that was designed and created with large companies and growing teams in mind. Allwork spoke with Shlomo Silber, CEO of Bond Collective, about what it takes to design a workspace that can help attract large companies and enterprises.
Shlomo identified a big opportunity when a couple of Bond Collective’s members reached out to him to give him notice of leaving.
“Members were coming to us saying they didn’t want to leave, but that they needed more space for their growing teams. We let the first of our members go, unfortunately; but when the second one approached us we realized that we needed to give our members the growing space that they required.”
This is how the idea of Bond 60 Broad was born. This was ‘the easy’ part, if you will.
Designing To Attract Large Companies
“We asked our members if they would like it if we built out a space where they could keep growing. When they said yes, we sat down with them and asked about their needs and expectations.”
To begin with, you need to find the right location, the right space. One with a layout that will allow you to offer the best office or ‘work space’ to each member. “Every suite in the building is the best suite; it has amazing views, a lot of natural light, and access to top of the line conference rooms.”
Lesson number 1: find a building and location that has the right layout that will allow you to design and offer the best space available to each member.
Next, Shlomo emphasised the importance of being a sort of ‘blank canvas’.
“If you want members to take ownership of the space and find their own identity within the space, then you need to keep your own branding to a minimum.
“We have branding in the reception area, in some common areas, and the restrooms. The rest is up to each member and how they want to decorate and make the space their own.”
“Keep your own branding to a minimum.”
Lesson number 2: “It’s not necessary to brand heavily.”
“Large and growing companies want to have their own brand; they don’t want to be connected to your workspace brand.”
Last but not least, you have to design your community.
And this last point can be tricky, as you will have larger teams that will naturally stick with their own. How do you make sure there’s still a vibrant workspace community as your company members build their own corporate culture?
“We’ve found that, for the most part, it’s the head or manager of each company that does not engage as much with the workspace community. On the other hand, we’ve seen that the workers of each company do tend to interact with each other, especially in the common areas.”
It all comes down to listening to your members and designing the community and space around them.
“Sometimes you have to prod and push a little to get members to speak, but once you have their attention, they will usually tell you how they feel and what is and is not working for them.”
Lesson number 3: design the community by listening to their needs and by designing a space that forces them to ‘collide’ with one another a few times a day.
This type of coworking is the way to the future. Corporations and large companies are starting to realize the importance of community, of having a human-focused workplace, where employees feel comfortable and happy in.
The way Shlomo sees it, companies know they need to revamp their culture, yet it’s not easy to do it, especially if workers find themselves in the same space they’ve been in for years.
“Moving part of the teams or opening a satellite office in a flexible workspace is a great way to start the process of renovating and reinventing their corporate culture.”
“It’s the start of a ripple that can go a long, long way.”