The Co-Working Revolution Must Die
Luke Miller, CEO/CCO – Moment Creative
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to live in a fishbowl? Well, you’re in luck! An office at a co-working space is exactly what you’re looking for. Sliding glass doors, huge picture windows that double as fun, hard to read white boards, kombucha on tap, endless conference rooms you’ll never use, novelty phone booths so you can feel like Clark Kent, terrible WiFi, so many dogs it feels like you’re at the goddamn vet, and 2, count ‘em, 2 whole ping pong tables. Now, that’s living…or so you thought.
I get at least two emails per week from different and “different” co-working spaces: how novel they are, how great they are for networking, how if you lease this shoebox for $846/sq. ft. your business will soar. Well, I have some relatively un-shocking news for you – THEY SUCK.
We thought co-working was the way to go, so we gave it a shot at two different spaces. How amazing it would be to have neighbors that both shared our industry and differed wildly. We were certain it would bring in new clients and usher in a level of productivity we couldn’t even imagine. Then we got wise.
The novelty quickly wore off. You can only drink so much kombucha before you realize it’s just old, shitty tea. You can’t really drink that many beers from the 25 craft kegs that are scattered across the building, because well… There is nowhere to hide – if you are in your office everyone knows it – the same is true when you’re not in your office. Which is worse?
At the end of the day, co-working is a trend and a bad one at that. It’s greed at its finest: real estate corporations trying to squeeze every ounce of juice out of a very dry orange. It’s companies trying to replace paying employees better wages with gimmicky BS.
We have an office in a class-c building now. It’s nothing fancy, but it gets the job(s) done. We have access to an amazing coffee shop on the first floor (yes, we have to pay for our drinks now, but we do get a nice neighborhood discount), we have access to a great gym in the basement, we pay a very fair and reasonable rate, we are across the street from a major transportation hub, and, most importantly, we are happy!
Here’s my advice for commercial realtors: co-working isn’t a bad concept, but it has been poorly executed. Offer tenants shared spaces, not shared everything. Put real doors on offices, keep junk closets and copy rooms an option, make windows to the outside world a priority, stop force feeding us beer and ‘buch, and, lastly, charge a reasonable rate for the space.
Here’s my advice to companies and employers: create a REAL culture. Pay your employees what they deserve, offer benefits that actually matter, and foster an environment that celebrates true “co-working”. Fuck your ping pong table, fuck your kombucha, and fuck your “they are replaceable” attitude. Grow your people, inspire confidence, let them work from home, reduce turnover, and be a meaningful part of your employee’s lives.