In the rivalrous world of co-working, companies with me-too business models don’t last long. Increasingly, leading firms plying their trade in the co-working sector are leveraging a hospitality mentality to separate their offerings from those of competitors.
Among notable names in this niche: Carr Workplaces, Venture X, Select Office Suites, Worksuites and Premier Workspaces, all of which elevate their brands by being less about physical offices than about providing a level of hospitality that leaves clients on top of their respective games.
Among pioneers in going beyond administrative function to provide a service that’s essentially an adjunct division of their clients’ teams is Carr Workplaces. The company provides businesses with a suite of services including event planning, research, notary services, office organization, travel arrangements and dining reservations, taking on roles that can save its clients time to focus on their own respective businesses.
The company carried its approach to extremes in early 2020, when the pandemic shut down co-working spaces nationwide. The Carr Workplaces Chicago team continued to visit the office, where they organized their client companies’ mail and — recognizing its importance to business function — offered to deliver it to clients’ homes.
Another company, Select Office Suites, with a trio of New York City locations, provides turnkey solutions aimed at having clients feel they’d actually prefer to be in the office. The company builds community among tenants by offering lounges and cafes fostering communication and collaboration. On-site staff answer phones, provide concierge service, manage IT, schedule meeting space and events and offer refreshments. Clients describe the offices as warm, professional places encouraging productivity.
Venture X, a primarily U.S.-based firm, with more than 50 locations around the world, uses a franchise model in which locations are owned and operated by entrepreneurs from each local market. Result: owner-operators are more motivated to forge rapport with and among tenants and to provide a hospitality-focused service culture. Locations serve up boutique amenities and deliver a comparatively more upscale look, feel and price point, expressly designed to lure greater numbers of enterprise-level business.
Worksuites, a more-than 20-year-old business with 23 locations in Texas and Georgia, targets customers occupying a place somewhere between modern and trendy and old-school office space. The company’s congenial office environments encourage heads-down productivity without imparting a shared or temporary square footage sensibility. On-site staff greet guests and arrange catering, in-house IT support and quick Internet. Everything from presentation equipment to coffee service is coordinated.
Premier Workspaces has 90 locations across the country, offering furnished offices and suites, on-site management and administrative support and mail distribution. According to satisfied clients, the company’s thoughtful services impart a feeling Premier Workspaces cares about the success of the companies using those spaces.
In bringing a service-first hospitality sensibility to co-working, myriad challenges need be surmounted. One is the hurdle of setting expectations for clients, says Ashley K. Buckner, chief operating officer at Carr Workplaces. “The reality is we cannot service every client request at the same time, so setting a client’s expectation on turnaround time, response [and more] is a crucial piece” in meeting and besting expectations.
Really getting to know customers can be another headwind for hospitality-minded co-working companies. “We must first get to know them, their preferences, and understand their lives outside of work,” Buckner says.
“Without this, we only support them on the surface, which anyone can do. Building meaningful relationships allows us to serve them on a deeper level, in a way people remember . . . Making a positive impact on the client workday experience is the reason we exist, [making for] a place where clients feel supported and at home.”