Deciding to return to the office is the easy part. Embracing flexibility and finding the right coworking space among thousands of options – that’s where things get trickier.
PlaceTech has rounded up some of the booking services that make navigating the vast ocean of flex workspace painless.
Some are niche, catering to a specific audience or client base, while others are truly global – possibly the closest the industry will get to a Google of coworking. Some offer free basic searches for people hunting for an office, while others offer memberships to streamline the process for a fee.
Hubble helps businesses find workspace in two main ways: Hubble HQ for head offices and Hubble Pass for hand-picked on-demand workspaces internationally. Its goal is to make adopting a hybrid workplace strategy more cost-effective and less complicated.
Locations: UK (Hubble HQ); 12 countries across North America, Europe and Africa (Hubble Pass)
Number of offices listed: 5,000+ (Hubble HQ); 200+ and growing (Hubble Pass)
Target market: The main target market is SMEs and scaleups, but Hubble says it “helps companies of all sizes”
Key feature: Managing all your workspace needs in one places, from finding a new HQ to giving your team access to on-demand workspaces and equipping employees with better home working solutions
Find out more at: https://hubblehq.com/
“We cover the whole market,” Instant says on its homepage, offering a service that’s both free – the company gets commission from landlords and operators when a deal completes – and comprehensive. Instant negotiates prices on users’ behalf, promising “your best deal”.
Locations: 150 countries worldwide
Number of offices listed: 15,000+
Target market: “Businesses of all shapes and sizes, across every industry”
Key feature: Working with everyone from large global flexible office providers to smaller independent landlords, Instant aims to give the largest view of the office market in the world.
Find out more at: https://www.instantoffices.com/
A subscription service for companies, Desana provides a bank of hours that staff can use to book workspaces with considerable flexibility. The service also offers a dashboard with insights on workspace usage and staff satisfaction to guide real estate strategies.
Locations: 39 countries worldwide (Desana adds: “We’re driven by our customers’ needs so we’re able to work anywhere in the world”)
Number of offices listed: 700+
Target market: Large enterprises and, to a lesser extent, scaling tech startups
- Option to book meeting rooms and private offices
- Bookings by the hour
- An option for workspace operators to monetise any vacant space of any size
Find out more at: https://desana.io/
Coworker is another contender for the Google of flexible offices. With more than 3 million users of all sizes, the company provides comprehensive search functions and a membership model for globetrotters that want a simple way to pop into an office wherever they are.
Locations: 172 countries worldwide
Number of offices listed: 18,500+
Target market: Professionals and companies of all sizes
- An end-to-end solution, ranging from meeting rooms for one hour to long-term flexible solutions
- A membership service, Global Pass, which gives users access to more than 5,000 office spaces in 115 countries and 700 cities from $50 a month
Find out more at: https://www.coworker.com/
Deskpass is a pay-as-you-go service for both businesses and individuals looking for flexible workspace. With no commitments and the ability to add and remove spaces as needed, Deskpass makes flexible working even more flexible.
Locations: 25 cities across the US and (as of May) Australia
Number of offices listed: 800+
Target market: Businesses of all sizes (Deskpass for Teams) and individuals (Deskpass for Individuals)
Key feature: Largest on-demand provider of flexible workspace in the 25 cities in which Deskpass operates and a focus on spaces in suburbs and rural communities to meet shifting workspace demands.
Find out more at: https://www.deskpass.com/
Can there be a Google for coworking?
“It’s easier to start by focusing on a niche target audience; it’s hard to be everything to everyone, and do it well,” says Tushar Agarwal, co-founder and CEO of Hubble.
But although the company had an initial niche when it launched in 2014 – startups looking for sublet space – the growth of flexible work among businesses of all sizes has led Hubble to grow and adapt.
Still, Hubble inhabits a relatively small part of the market and its pitch to users isn’t reliant on listing every possible workspace; it’s about the service it offers.
For those, like Instant or Coworker, that do want to cover the entire flex world, the challenge is not just in aggregating thousands upon thousands of listings, but staying on top of constant changes.
“Throughout the pandemic, we have recognised the importance of keeping our data up to date,” says Madison Maidment, COO at Coworker. “Due to the sporadic nature of coworking and flexible operators reopening and closing over the last 12 months, we want to make sure we’re staying on top of our data to support our network of spaces in any way that we can.”
That is a serious barrier to entry for many in the space, John Williams, chief marketing officer at Instant, says, adding that there is value in having a specific focus.
“Finding a niche is probably the smartest move not least because the buyer of flex workspace is becoming more nuanced and understands that there are options out there to fit every requirement,” he says. “We are already seeing buyers wanting more options and spending more time looking for them. We are also aware that operators are doing more to specialise their offer and seek out those niche requirements. “
If, as Williams predicts, ‘nichification’ in coworking picks up even more, post-pandemic, we can expect more services to arise and find new customer demands to meet in new ways.
For them, tapping into those specific needs will be more important than becoming the sector’s Google.