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Coworking spaces are still on the rise, regardless of WeWork mistakes

(BUSINESS NEWS) Coworking spaces are taking the world by storm, WeWork may still be good for some but not all. But the smaller companies have what you need too.

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Last week, we shared a story on the sudden decline of coworking “giant” WeWork. In case you haven’t had a chance to read it yet (I highly recommend it as it sheds some serious light on the topic) the TLDR gist of the story is that the company has very quickly declined from a $47 billion company to an $8 billion one. That said, their drop in value has resulted in a need to offload assets, such as a variety of coworking companies it recently purchased – some as recent as this year.

Despite the company’s obvious failures, according to a recent coworking survey by Clutch, WeWork is still pretty popular. When surveyed against 5 other possible choices, the company took the top spot, with 39% of respondents said they work from a WeWork location.

But watch out WeWork! In the same poll, 36% of people (only 3% less than WeWork) are opting for local spaces for their coworking needs. So what does this mean for the coworking landscape in 2020? Clutch found some really interesting data that may give us some clues into what the future of coworking may look like.

Our first trend is that coworking spaces are seemingly favored by business who prefer to be involved in their local community and offer community-based perks. This is something that niche spaces, like Enterprise Coworking, owned by Focus Property Group in Denver, Colorado, are capitalizing on.

Andrew Schuh, a marketing specialist at Focus Property Group, says that local Denver businesses tend to be drawn to their coworking space and that “being local and involved in local events and forming partnerships with local businesses has really helped us. We have a local touch that WeWork doesn’t have.”

But are other local businesses and employees around the globe following suit? We’ve found that whether or not you’re with a company or single employee, the decision to go with a larger space, vs. a smaller, local space, really comes down to a couple things: the size and type of company you work for and your company’s policy on remote working.

For example, if you are a freelancer and you do not have a dedicated space to work in, assuming you have the amount of work that warrants a coworking membership, logic would say that you may want to go with a larger space like WeWork – one with more amenities (which we’ll discuss later in the story). However, being a freelancer also means that you’re probably the one paying for the space, so both actual need and budget can be very real concerns. These concerns may force you in the direction of a local company, vs. a large company like WeWork.

On the other hand, if you are part of an organization that pays for, or subsidizes your remote workspace (lucky you!), you may very well have the means to go with a larger space like WeWork.

Another trend that certainly plays a role in the 2020 landscape is in relation to company policy. It’s important to mention that many, but not all, larger companies have restrictions when it comes to remote working. Some businesses may completely disallow remote working, while others may only offer the ability to work out of the office a few days a week.

Clutch goes on to point out that if a company has more than 100 employees, it’s more likely that their employees visit their coworking space the majority of the week. They found that 53% of employees from larger companies spend 5 or more days per week at their remote office of choice.

In the same vein, Clutch found that if a company has less than 10 employees, only 29% of employees spend the majority of their time at their coworking office. This likely correlates somewhat with what we mentioned before: smaller companies are less likely to prioritize private office expenses, typically based on budget, need, and policy. It can certainly also have something to do with the job you’re in and whether or not the position supports remote work.

Schuh says “The majority of members use the space most days, but there are the smaller businesses that come in fewer days per week…our larger members are definitely here full-time, though.”

Now, another trend that may have an impact on the future of coworking is in relation to plans and contracts. Larger companies tend to stick with coworking spaces for at least a year. We speculate the reasons are both growth-related and budget-related. In a small company, month-to-month is often a great option as it offers flexibility. However, medium and larger companies frequently go with annual plans, which may be subsidized and offer a stable work environment for their employees.

For instance, TrustPilot, a well known review-gathering service and platform, is Enterprise Coworking’s largest member, with 72 out of 800 employees working at the Denver space. All Denver-area employees exclusively work out of Enterprise as it offers them both stability and flexibility. The company has a suite-plan (vs. a desk membership), meaning they can work anywhere they’d like in the office. They also recently signed a 5-year contract with the space, saying that they have no plans to move, even as they grow.

Contracts such as these support small to mid-sized businesses who are on the right track, growth-wise, and are looking to increase their footprint long-term.

The final trend we’ll discuss today is all about amenities. Coworking spaces aren’t just for working. They’re for playing, too!

Many coworking offices come with a wide array of services and perks. Clutch found that 39% of coworking spaces have recreation rooms, for example (Enterprise being included in that statistic). Game rooms like these can have a direct impact on job satisfaction and productivity, which can prevent burnout. Enterprise’s recreational room, for instance, provides pingpong tables, shuffleboard, and Xbox access and helps to reduce daily work-related stresses for many employees. Actually, according to Clutch, about 60% of coworking employees are more relaxed at home since they started working at a coworking office.

Office Assistant, Holly Emmons, attests to this by saying “Our team loves pingpong…people take breaks from their busy days to destress for a few minutes and get away from their desks, so it is great having these types of spaces throughout the building.”

Another amenity that’s taking the industry by storm is wellness programs, and it’s no wonder why. After all, having healthier customers means more activity in the coworking space (more frequent visits, consistent payments, less cancellations, etc.), which means more revenue for the coworking space.

So, what does all this mean for coworking in 2020? With larger companies committing themselves to specific services, we predict that the coworking model will continue to be near and dear to both businesses and employees in the future. In this competitive market, it’s highly likely that many spaces will also continue bring in new tactics and amenities to rival giants and small businesses-alike.

So, without further adieu, let the coworking space wars begin!

Rachael Olan is a Texas-based Staff Writer at The American Genius and jack-of-many-trades. She's well known for her abilities in Marketing, Sales, and Customer Service, with a focus on SaaS and eCommerce businesses. Outside of writing, Rachael spends much of her time with her swarm of pets, including a 70 lb tortoise named Frankie.

Business News

Coca Cola drops 200 brands, most you’ve never heard of

(BUSINESS NEWS) Coca Cola hopes to revitalize their drink arsenal by rolling back some “underperforming” brands (that you might not have known they were still making.)

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Woman drinking Coca Cola against plain wall

2020 has forced a lot of businesses to return to their proverbial drawing boards, and the Coca Cola Company is no exception. Last week, Coca Cola announced in a corporate blog post that they are halting the production of 200 of their beverage brands.

In the words of Cath Coetzer, the head of global marketing for Coca Cola, the restructuring will “accelerate [Coke’s] transformation into a total beverage company”.

“We’re prioritizing bets that have scale potential across beverage categories, consumer need states and drinking occasions,” Coetzer added. “Because scale is the algorithm that truly drives growth.”

That’s… a surprising amount of technical beverage jargon, Cath.

Coca Cola is already the leading manufacturer of non-alcoholic drinks on the planet. It’s hard to imagine their scope becoming any more “total.” But this strategy shift comes as the consumer thirst for soda is drying up.

Soda consumption has steadily fallen over the last ten consecutive years, thanks to a swath of modern studies that link excess sugar intake with negative health outcomes like obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.

In light of this research, regional sales taxes on drinks with added sugar have been debated across the country, despite aggressive corporate lobbying against it. All this has meant that beverage companies have had no choice but to pivot hard.

Take Odwalla, a Coca Cola brand that touted its vitamin content and servings of produce, which was discontinued earlier this year. Despite being marketed as a health brand, Odwalla flavors contained whopping amounts of added sugar: Their popular “superfood” flavor quietly boasted 47 grams per bottle.

The brands affected by Coke’s recent soda cull also include TAB diet soda, ZICO coconut water, and Coca Cola Life, plus internationally marketed drink brands like Vegibeta of Japan and Kuat of Brazil.

Condensing their portfolio allows Coca Cola to prioritize their most profitable products and invest in more new beverage trendsetters that better fit the times, like sparkling water, coffee, or even cannabis-infused products.

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Business News

Uber and Lyft face the music as employee ruling is upheld

(BUSINESS NEWS) The battle for Uber and Lyft drivers’ status continues, and despite company protests, the official ruling has been upheld.

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Interior of Uber and Lyft rideshare looking out on palm trees

A gig economy has its pros and cons. For anyone who has ever been an independent contractor, done freelance work, or worked for companies like Uber, Lyft, and DoorDash, the pros are clear – you get to work when you want, where you want and how much you want. Flexibility and gigs go hand in hand.

And the cons? Well, those are a little more complex. Without a W2 linking you directly to the company, you as an independent contractor don’t receive the same rights and perks that your 9-5 employee friends might. For example, your employer is not required to provide a healthcare option for you. You are also not entitled to earned time off or minimum wage.

So which is better?

The gig economy conundrum has made its way all the way to an appellate court in California last week. The ruling was that Uber and Lyft must classify their drivers as employees.

Back in May, Attorney General Xavier Becerra and city attorneys from L.A., San Diego and San Francisco brought forth a lawsuit that argues Uber and Lyft gain an unfair, unlawful competitive advantage by not classifying their workers as W2s.

Uber and Lyft responded to the suit, stating that if they were to reclassify their drivers as employees, their companies would be irreparably harmed – though the judge in last week’s ruling negated that claim, stating that neither company would suffer any “grave or irreparable harm by being prohibited from violating the law” and also that the financial burden of converting workers to employees “do[es] not rise to the level of irreparable harm.” Essentially, the judge called their BS.

Additionally, according to the judge, there is nothing that would prevent Uber and Lyft from offering flexibility and independence to their drivers – and they have had plenty of time to transition their drivers from independent contractors to employees (the gig worker bill that spurred this lawsuit was decided in 2018). Seems fair to me!

However, there is an oppositional proposition on the ballot that muddies the waters. Proposition 22, if passed, is a measure that would keep rideshare drivers and delivery workers classified as independent contractors, meaning that those workers from Uber and Lyft would be exempt from the new state law that classifies them as W-2 employees. And you might be surprised to know how many of the app-based rideshare workers are in favor of Prop 22!

In a class-action lawsuit, Uber has been accused of encouraging drivers and delivery workers to support Prop 22 via the company’s driver-scheduling app. It appears, unfortunately, that Uber is manipulating its workforce by wrongly hanging their jobs over their heads.

On this matter, Gig Workers Rising stated: “If Uber and Lyft are successful in passing Prop. 22 and undo the will of the people, they will inspire countless other corporations to adapt their business models and misclassify workers in order to further enrich the wealthy few at the expense of their workforce.”

Ultimately, the fate of California Uber and Lyft driver’s in still in question. It’s unclear if the question we should be asking is, will Lyft drivers have proper healthcare through their jobs or will they have jobs at all. All of this is occurring at a time where millions are jobless and 158,000 individuals sought unemployment support this week due to COVID-19 layoffs.

Personally, I have little sympathy for tech-giants that rake in billions off the backs of the exploited working-class. If the CEO of Uber is an ostentatious billionaire, then his employees should have health insurance. Clear and simple.

The scariest part of the gig economy is that workers have become increasingly happy to work for a company that gives them little to no benefits. More companies are dissolving or combining positions so that they can further bypass their responsibilities to their employees. Let us not be fooled: The dispute over whether or not to make Uber and Lyft workers W2 employees does not affect the health of the companies themselves. What it will affect is how fat the bonuses will be the big guys at the top, and that’s exactly why the companies are so adverse to the ruling. They’d rather their workers suffer than lose a single dime.

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Business News

Bay Area co-living startup strands hundreds of renters at dire time

(BUSINESS NEWS) They’re blaming COVID for failing as a co-living space, but it looks like trouble was well established even before now.

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Person packed a bag and walking away from co-living space.

Over the last few years, “co-living” startups have become increasingly common in tech-rich cities like San Francisco. These companies lease large houses, then rent individual bedrooms for as much as $2,000 per month in hopes of attracting the young professionals who make up the tech industry. Many offer food, cleaning services, group activities, and hotel-quality accommodations to do so.

But the true value in co-living companies lies in their role as a third party: Smoothing over relations, providing hassle free income to homeowners and improved accountability to tenants… in theory, anyway. The reality has proved the opposite can just as easily be true.

In a September company email, Bay Area co-living startup HubHaus released a statement that claimed they were “unable to pay October rent” on their leased properties. Hubhaus also claimed to have “no funds available to pay any amounts that may be owed landlords, tenants, trade creditors, or contractors.”

This left hundreds of SF Bay Area renters scrambling to arrange shelter with little notice, with the start of a second major COVID-19 outbreak on the horizon.

HubHaus exhibited plenty of red flags leading up to this revelation. Employees complained of insufficient or late payment. The company stopped paying utilities during the spring, and they quietly discontinued cleaning services while tenants continued to pay for them.

Businesses like HubHaus charge prices that could rent a private home in most of the rest of the country, in exchange for a room in a house of 10 or more people. PodShare is a similar example: Another Bay Area-based co-living startup, whose offerings include “$1,200 bunk beds” in a shared, hostel-like environment.

As a former Bay Area resident, it’s hard not to be angry about these stories. But they have been the unfortunate reality since long before the pandemic. Many urbanites across the country cannot afford to opt out of a shared living situation, and these business models only exacerbate the race to the bottom of city living standards.

HubHaus capitalized on this situation and took advantage of their tenants, who were simply looking for an affordable place to live in a market where that’s increasingly hard to find.

They’ve tried to place the blame for their failure on COVID-19 — but all signs seem to indicate that they had it coming.

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