Gone are the days of working in a traditional office setting, where cubicles separate colleagues and the only social interactions occur around the water cooler. The rise in coworking spaces in New York City, and other tech hub cities around the world, has left more people yearning for work environments that are open, collaborative, inspiring and stimulating. But are these shared office spaces just a fad or are they indeed the future of business?
A lot has changed since Courtney Boyd Myers authored a popular post here on TNW called The 5 Coolest Coworking Spaces in New York City. There has been explosion of new NYC accelerators, incubators and shared office space options catering to startups, marketing professionals, developers, gig-workers and freelance professionals.
I thought the list could use an upgrade so I took to the streets to find the 10 most unique and coolest coworking spaces in NYC in 2017.
1) WeWork Harlem
WeWork Harlem is like the Starbucks of coworking — it’s the name that pops up most in the media for coworking. WeWork’s formula is strong and robust: countless locations, glass offices, phone booths, free fruit infused water, craft beer on tap and, of course, great networking events. As far as vibe goes, WeWork Harlem does not have the typical “selling the Y” corporate feel that you get at most of their other locations.
When I walked into WeWork Harlem, I was greeted by friendly community managers and hosts. I liked the setup of the large bleacher type seating in the main space when you walk in the front door — seems like it would be a great setting for events.
Since it was Thursday, after a business appointment, I joined in on the happy hour and treats WeWork Harlem had for the members. I usually don’t like WeWork offices because they are so corporate-like, but I think WeWork Harlem is a different community to begin with.
I would like to say it’s the diversity of the community that is both encouraging and offers a strong community atmosphere. This is what I personally look for in a coworking environment. If I don’t feel like welcome, like at coworking spaces Fuel or Blender, then I’m not going to go back or recommend it to others.
2) District CoWork
With a prime location in the center of Manhattan, District CoWork sits near Madison Square Park. This shared working space emits a very social and energetic vibe so members can put their maximum amount of energy into work.
District CoWork offers everything needed in a coworking space. Beautiful and open spaces containing dedicated desks are offered alongside conference rooms and private offices for individuals, teams and those looking to network. District CoWork is unique in the sense that its private rooms are available at no extra cost — members can have privacy for work or calls. The space also boasts a relaxing rooftop and designer lounge!
A new 25,000 square foot coworking space named Primary is the brainchild of two former WeWork staff members. Primary is very unique in its own right —co-owner Lisa Skye Hain describes Primary’s philosophy: “We believe that if you make your primary focus or priority yourself and your wellness, all else in your life–including your business–can thrive.” In essence, this is a philosophy whereby wellness comes first because Primary insists that healthy people are better workers.
A visit to primary is going to offer you more than just the standard coworking stuff. When you go to Primary, you’ll notice that it actually has classes for meditation, yoga, cardio and bootcamp.
Featured events are also part of the Primary equation and one day, a member could find herself in a perfume making networking luncheon. On top of all this, the state-of-the-art facility is also home to a Stumptown Coffee Roasters and is open 24/7!
4) The Farm
The Farm gets its name from, you guessed it, an appearance comparable to actual farms. The philosophy behind the farm is that it wants members to feel like they are on the peaceful countryside, instead of in the busy and bustling city.
Rustic interiors and salvaged wood long tables are illuminated by bare bulbs draping from the ceiling. The Farm even has a small presentation/projection screen where viewers look at the screen via wooden bleachers. Please note, however, that The Farm offers a much more open space feeling and, at times, private offices are hard to reserve.
5) Voyager HQ
Launched in 2016 as an incubator/coworking space, Voyager HQ is designed for innovators who travel. Voyager IQ encourages travelling startup entrepreneurs by giving members and visitors a foot in the door to meet likeminded individuals, who can assist in networking with other sources which can provide partnership, investment opportunities and exclusive industry knowledge.
Members are introduced to corporate partners such as American Airlines and CheapOair. In fact, Voyager HQ was founded by CheapOair’s owner, Sam S. Jain. Voyager HQ has a member network including more than 150 tech startups worldwide.
Also nicknamed “The Clubhouse”, it is a hub for everything travel: travel founder’s breakfasts, rare industry events, roundtable discussions and happy hours. A clubhouse style workspace includes 50 dedicated desks, three private offices, various meeting spaces and a complete kitchen.
6) Space 530
Space 530 is the coworking home to myriad emerging and established fashion and creative brands, fashion tech companies and creative fashion-tech players. It is a very fancy shared space and members can use Space 530’s full-service office which offers practically everything a fashion industry guru needs, including a showroom.
Space 530 occupies two floors and a space designed with an open-space themed layout (think polished concrete white walls and lots of space). Space 530 is already a coworking home to over 40 brands — suchas Max Mara, Phase Eight and Zappos — with many of these brands using Space 530 to organize operations, experiment with new collections and even host fashion shows.
If you’re a bit hesitant to decide on Space 530 — because you might not feel like you’re the next great fashion company — take advantage of its first floor offerings with interesting conference rooms available for meetings, product launches and pitches.
7) Croissant Coworking
If you want to have a coworking membership that lets you try over 60 shared work spaces in NYC then you should check out Croissant Coworking. As an online software technology marketplace, Croissant Coworking provides on demand access to shared workspaces. This enables freelancers, startups and entrepreneurs to rent coworking spaces and work on a flexible basis.
Unlike the previous coworking spaces I’ve reviewed, Croissant Coworking does not own or lease any office buildings. Rather, it’s a broker which charges members for hourly workspace access and gives a percentage of that revenue, to temporarily fill the vacant office space, to the owners that it partners with.
Croissant Coworking operates on the belief of a shared economy and collaborative consumption — which has helped it find a niche market where it can assist in the providing of a far more flexible and hourly-based office space membership. Basically, Croissant Coworking allows for freelancers to work from various workspace locations by partnering with different office space providers.
Founded in New York City, Croissant Coworking has since partnered with over 68 locations in NYC; this is in addition to its expansion into the Washington, DC, Boston, Los Angeles and San Francisco markets. As a mobile app company, Croissant Coworking is looking to shake things up in the coworking world by acting as the bridge between the real estate side of the coworking world and the software and logistics side that powers it.
Alley has been an NYC coworking space staple since 2012. It was just recently that Alley opened a new flagship location in Chelsea to complement its other two Manhattan locations. Early-stage startups are attracted to the community-oriented feeling of Alley. Also recently, Alley announced a new and unprecedented partnership with Verizon.
This Verizon partnership has allowed for Alley to open up three new locations in New York, Cambridge and Washington, D.C. The between the two companies is mutually beneficial because both are being credited with bridging the gap between startups and corporations, as they’ve created together a community workspace designed for ecosystems catering to next-level entrepreneurs.
In 2016, Galvanize, know largely as a dynamic technology learning center, opened up its new New York City campus in West SoHo on 315 Hudson Street. This NYC location is Galvanize’s ninth campus and is 55,000 square feet. It contains a coworking incubator workspace which is used by everyone from startups to established companies for many activities, business-related events and networking.
The coworking space has a ground floor encompassing 6,000 square feet while much of the remaining square footage hosts meetups, core partnerships and events. For example, the launch of IBM’s New York City Bluemix Garage, an innovation lab, was hosted at Galvanize.
Galvanize is unique because it provides workforce training, education and business coworking space all under the same roof. Galvanize has a niche spot in the coworking market because of its ability to connect industry to a technology education pipeline.
Essentially, Galvanize is a place where people can get hired by top-of-the-line venture backed companies because its supply of tech learning individuals is within an arm’s reach. And this is what separates it from General Assembly, it’s more than just a coding bootcamp program, they have the connects to it’s network of 140 plus hiring partners.
10) Neuehouse New York
Welcome to my favorite Soho-style coworking space. You can think of Neuehouse New York as having the appearance of a very chic hotel, rather than an office space.
Neuehouse New York is five stories and very popular with a select clientele, which includes those individuals who are active fashion, media or film sectors. The members also tend to be very affluent and polished, and they pay a hefty price for membership at Neuehouse New York — for access to its recording studio, screening room, private library and top-notch gourmet food options.
By the end of 2017, nearly 1.2 million people worldwide will have worked in a coworking space. While 60 percent of all co-working spaces aren’t profitable yet, coworking has definitely been a huge trend in the last 10 years. Coworking spaces are also generally startup businesses, creating jobs for themselves, and hustling for the next big opportunity.
In fact, The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that by 2020, about 65 million Americans (including Millennials who have surpassed Gen Xers as the largest generation in this labor force) will be freelancers, temps, independent contractors and solopreneurs. This would mean that those Gen Zers and Millennials will be making up about 40 to 50 percent of the workforce.
Concurrently, workspaces are sprouting up around the country in order to accommodate the growing number of nomadic workers. It’s not just those who are self-employed who are benefiting. As coworking becomes the future of business, larger companies like IBM, Microsoft, AT&T,PwC and Zappos are starting to capitalize on this new shift, confirming that the benefits are real.
Companies like WeWork or Industrious Office are also taking on an enterprise strategy of attracting large, corporate clients looking for flexible options, and expanding beyond freelancers and entrepreneurs as their user base.
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