10 Things Real Estate Gets Wrong About Coworking

By Stormy McBride On December 17, 2020 In AmenityOtherCoworkingCommunityCoworking TrendsReal Estate

Photo of a coworking community meeting

We hear it all the time… coworking is easy. Coworking is just desks in a room. Coworking is distracting. The list goes on.

Having been both coworking space owner-operators and members, we at GCUC have a few thoughts on the matter.

Here are 10 things real estate gets wrong about coworking.


1. Aren’t they just like a business center? Like Regus?

Just like them? No. Similar offering? Yes, in some cases. Coworking spaces can have offices and business centers can have open space and community. Generally speaking, though, coworking spaces have community, events, open space, office space and suites. Coworking spaces can also be in a network of spaces. (Spoiler: GCUC is rolling out a network of spaces in January 2021 called GCUC Places. This will allow members to travel globally between spaces.)

2. Aren’t coworking spaces just for freelancers and entrepreneurs?

Not at all! Many companies you know utilize shared workspaces for their employees. Since coworking spaces have flexible offerings, such as dedicated desks, private offices, meeting rooms and team collaboration spaces, they are great for businesses.

For many small businesses, it makes more financial sense to place their teams in already built spaces while they ramp up, rather than investing their startup money into a brick and mortar. The same can be said for large companies with remote teams or companies that want to break into a market but may not be ready to commit to a 5, 10, 15 year lease on their own space.

3. They are all open desk space, no offices.

It depends on the space but most of the time, that’s not the case. Most coworking spaces we know of and have visited have a mix of drop-in space, private offices, dedicated desks, meeting rooms and more. There are very few successful spaces that only have open desks in this day and age.

4. Coworking is just working with a keg and a pool table, right?

This one makes us laugh. Every sleepover has a pillow fight too, right? Of the hundreds of spaces we’ve visited and seen at this point, I can honestly say I can count on two hands how many had a keg and a pool table. I really want to know where this originated from. Was it because you all toured a WeWork?

5. You can’t concentrate in a coworking space.

If you can’t concentrate in a coworking space, you are in the wrong one for your working style. There are spaces that are library quiet, ones with music, others with white noise, talking, private space, collaborative space, work pods, phone booths, phone zones… the works. Coworking spaces are like pizza toppings. Find the ones you like and you are golden.

6. I can’t afford a coworking space.

A lot of coworking options are far more affordable than people think. Many drop-in coworking memberships are less than $10 a day for full time access. If you just need workspace once or twice a week, it’s even more affordable than that. Not to mention aggregators, such as Deskpass, that make it even more affordable and accessible. Plus, lots of spaces give discounts for students, nonprofits and public servants. If you stop at a coffee shop every day and buy a coffee and croissant in the morning to “buy your time” there, you are likely spending more than most spaces cost for a far better setup.

7. Coworking spaces aren’t safe.

Back to the hundreds of spaces we’ve been to, we have not once felt unsafe. Many have electronically accessed doors, just for members or known guests. Logs of who comes in and out, as well as their wifi and internet usage, is monitored and protected. Not to knock your local coffee shop but you are likely more safe at a coworking space than one of those.

8. There is no difference between a coworking space and my local coffee shop.

Speaking of that coffee shop… Lets talk about the differences. Coffee shops are rarely designed with productivity in mind. The chairs are hard, the music is blaring, the lighting is off and the power is not proportionate to the amount of seats in the joint. Not to mention, the security of the wifi is questionable (and can be slow). Plus, is it really safe enough to leave your work laptop sitting on the table while you run to the restroom? How about private enough to take sensitive or confidential calls?

Coworking and coffee shops are not the same. Stop by your local coffee shop and snag a cup of coffee before heading to a coworking space, if you want. But, bonus, most coworking spaces offer great coffee.

9. Why would I go to a coworking space instead of staying home?

Working from home can be isolating and very distracting. Is your home office ergonomic? Do you have a sit/stand desk? It can be challenging to collaborate on Zoom meetings—sometimes you just need to be face to face. Not to mention how inconvenient it is when you are trying to give a pitch and the delivery guy rings the doorbell and your dogs start to bark. WFH is not ideal 100% of the time.

10. Coworking spaces and flexible workspace are the same thing.

No, they’re not.

Coworking spaces prioritize community and have a soul. Flexible workspace is the real estate world’s concept of coworking. It’s space as a service…not coworking.