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Buyer Beware: a Cautionary Tale About Coworking



I recently heard a crazy story about a coworking space in Southern California.

To be honest, “coworking” is not the right word to use here because this is not at all what coworking is about, but the company branded themselves as a coworking space, so here goes.

In late-May, the space announced to its members that it was closing and that, within a few days, they needed to be out. Members were left flailing and had to relocate meetings, change their mailing address on everything and, most importantly, find a new place to work.

I turned to my friend who was telling me the story and said, “That’s the trouble with real estate people creating coworking spaces.”

She agreed.

If there is no investment in community; if the sole reason for a shared space’s existence is to make a profit off of office space that has been divided up, then members are nothing more than customers and closing the doors is nothing more personal than closing a fast food joint that isn’t performing.

That kind of disconnect doesn’t work for independent professionals who need to rely on our workplace being there for us.

In a coworking space that’s focused on—and driven by—community, the space becomes secondary. Whether you move, or downsize, or upsize, the community goes with you because the community is the coworking space.

Sometimes shit happens and spaces have to close. But tossing your members out with a few days notice is the opposite of how a closure should be handled.

This story is a cautionary tale to coworking space members to find a space that is truly invested in its members.

It’s also an appeal to coworking space owners and operators to think of coworking as a community that works in a shared space rather than an office space you fill with customers.

Coworking space operators: Every Thursday I send out content marketing tips and interesting articles from the coworking world. Subscribe here.


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Photo: Jeremiah (CC-BY)