More than just coworking
Flexible workspaces for every need and budget
Our nation's workforce has changed dramatically in the past ten years, with the traditional 9 to 5 crew being replaced by contract employees, freelancers and other independent workers. Research shows that while the independent workforce changed little between 1995 and 2005 (from 9.3 percent to 10.1 percent), by 2015 the proportion of independent workers jumped to 17.2 percent.1
In Northern Virginia, as the number of startups, small businesses, individual entrepreneurs and freelancers has grown, so has the presence of varied workspaces aiming to provide cost-effective, efficient solutions to meet their needs.
To many, the most obvious workspace option for an individual entrepreneur or startup seems to be a coworking space. Coworking builds community and encourages creativity by providing a professional environment where people work side-by-side, enjoying the advantages of an office space but with more flexibility and lower costs than they'd incur through a traditional lease. The number of coworking spaces in the D.C. metro region has exploded in recent years to meet the demand. But did you know that coworking is only one component of a much broader commercial real estate trend that has been around for decades? There are a variety of flexible workspaces to meet the needs of would-be customers.
Do you need a coworking space, a virtual office, an accelerator or an incubator? Executive suites or spec suites? Read on to learn more about the distinctions within the world of flexible workspaces. Rosslyn has plenty of options in many of these categories.
Coworking/shared offices: Thriving through community
Coworking/shared office spaces are membership-based workspaces where diverse groups of freelancers, remote workers and other independent professionals come together in a shared, communal setting.2 Often coworking spaces may refine their brand and offerings along a certain theme. For instance, The Wing and Hera Hub focus specifically on women members, while Two Birds provides coworking options with childcare in their space. Coworking offers members access to amenities such as meeting room space, free WiFi, copiers and a kitchen, as well as the chance to select an already-furnished workspace that suits them. These types of workspaces/memberships can range from a dedicated private office to a desk/workspace in an open-plan area, a virtual office, a day pass and more. Coworkers enjoy more flexible terms of payment for their space than those seeking traditional leases. They typically pay a monthly membership fee that offers space versus rent payment on an actual lease for space. They also join an informal work community that, according to research, helps them thrive more than working in isolation at home or in a coffee shop. Spaces opened in 2017 in Rosslyn and is a good example of a coworking space offering these various options.
Executive Suites: Small, more traditional, turn-key
Executive suites are fully furnished offices, sometimes with a receptionist or virtual visitor management system, that can be leased for a day, week, month or year from a coworking operator. They offer similar amenities to coworking spaces, such as a lobby, shared kitchen, meeting rooms and flexible lease terms, but are less focused on networking and community-building. Their value proposition lies in their ability to provide individuals and small companies with hassle-free access to modern office space and amenities in an attractive building and neighborhood that will help them make a positive impression on clients. Many small service firms, such as accountants and lawyers, opt for executive suites. Carr Workplaces has been a well-established flexible space in Rosslyn for over a decade that provides executive suites as well as a coworking option.
Accelerators: Learning and making connections
More than just shared or communal office space, an accelerator often provides more advanced startups (also known as "scale-ups") with mentorship, educational opportunities, networking and access to investors. Most companies that locate at an accelerator aim to outgrow them as their company takes flight. Some accelerators are highly competitive, accepting only companies they see as most likely to succeed. In Rosslyn, for example, Eastern Foundry is a "small business workplace and accelerator for the government contracting market." They help members (that is, companies locating in their space and joining their community) grow their business by connecting them with industry partners, arrange meetings between primes and agencies, providing members with access to educational programming, and producing relevant industry events.
Incubators: Helping a concept take off
Incubators are often confused with accelerators. One article defined it well: Incubators guide companies from infancy through adolescence while accelerators guide them from adolescence through adulthood. In other words, an incubator is a space where a fledgling startup can grow into something more. Incubators may offer resources such as office space, legal counsel, accounting support, networking opportunities, mentoring, coaching and even seed money in exchange for a small amount of equity in the company. Also, while most companies aim to move on from accelerators sooner rather than later, they often stay at incubators for longer periods of time as their creative concepts mesh and they hopefully gain access to investors. Some incubators are actual office spaces while others are virtual communities.
Speculative ("Spec") Suites: Cost-effective, move-in ready solutions
Spec suites are built-out office spaces that often feature cutting-edge, well-designed finishes. Some also include furnishings. Landlords will build out several of them concurrently, even if they don't have a prospective tenant in the mix. This is more cost effective for them. Tenants lease spec suites directly from landlords, not coworking companies. They may find spec suites appealing if they need to move into a space quickly (for instance, if they win a big contract and need to staff up) and don't have time to wait for an unfinished space to be built out and decorated. By leasing a spec suite, a tenant can find him or herself in an impressive, professional-looking space that is move-in ready and hassle-free. Spec suites offer flexible leases and shorter terms than traditional office leases. Some spec suites may be decorated in a particular style while others may be very basic, enabling tenants to brand them and change them to suit their company's personality and culture. Most spec suites are smaller in size—between 1,000 and 5,000 square feet. Many of Rosslyn's business owners have developed spec suites in their buildings, including but not limited to 1735 N. Lynn St., 1201 Wilson Blvd., 1550 and 1560 Wilson Blvd., 1400 Key Blvd. and most recently Space+ at Arlington Tower.
Virtual Offices: Maintaining a presence
Many small businesses or entrepreneurs opt to work from home and maintain a virtual office. A virtual office typically provides a small business with a mailing address and mail services in a prime location, call answering services, and access to a business lounge or desk at a business center for a few days a month. Regus and Carr Workplaces provide virtual office services in Rosslyn.
Here are some flexible spaces in Rosslyn:
Carr Workplaces: offices, virtual offices, coworking, suites, meeting rooms, event spaces
Eastern Foundry: flexible workspaces, private and shared offices, suites, networking and educational events with an emphasis on federal government contracting
Regus: private offices, virtual offices, meeting rooms, business lounge, coworking
Spaces: private offices, coworking, meeting rooms
1. These statistics come from this report.
Photo at top: Spaces coworking space in Rosslyn