WorkSuites is no stranger to change.
Founded in 2001 as Meridian Business Centers, the coworking provider found its way in the industry as a traditional executive suite operator.
In 2018, Meridian Business Centers rebranded to what we know now as WorkSuites – and they never looked back.
“We transitioned in 2018 to WorkSuites,” said Flip Howard, the Chief Executive Officer of WorkSuites. “We rolled out with a new look and feel. We’re not fully open coworking but we’re not just a dark, depressing hallway of doors.”
“It’s still mostly drywall and mostly private, productive, professional offices but it’s also a lot more of the elements of today’s new coworking centers – a lot more natural light and open spaces,” Flip added.
Traditionally, WorkSuites has housed many entrepreneurs and solopreneurs but since the pandemic, Flip and his team have seen a shift in their client base.
With more large companies re-evaluating their real estate footprint and looking for ways to reduce density in the workplace, WorkSuites has experienced an increase in corporate accounts.
“Our customer makeup was always about 70 percent entrepreneurs and 30 percent corporate accounts,” exclaimed Flip.
“In these last couple months, it’s a little bit higher of a percentage – I’d say 50-50 – of companies paying for office space for employees of theirs.”
A new, more private approach to coworking is where WorkSuites has found its feet – and firmly held its ground – during one of the most challenging times in recent memory for many industries around the world.
“We really changed our entire coworking offering,” said Flip. “We used to offer hot desks and dedicated desks like everybody else. Now we offer neither of those.”
In its place, Flip and his team created a new product offering that would service the needs of those looking for safe alternatives to work in the office.
Dubbed as ‘hybrid coworking’, this new product offering allows WorkSuites’ members to work safely and comfortably from a private office while still enjoying the benefits that come from a coworking environment.
With three different levels of hybrid coworking memberships available, members can pick and choose from private office and DailyDesk use for the, “ultimate in work-anywhere” flexibility.
“Hybrid coworking is either one, two, or five days a week in a private office that you just don’t leave anything in overnight,” added Flip.
“For any of your other time in the center, you get to use a daily desk – which is similar to a hot desk – but different in the fact that it’s yours for the day and in a room that is more socially distanced.”
Simply, this new approach combines unlimited access to safe, sanitized coworking with additional access to a private office – a hybrid product offering fit for today’s new environment.
But Flip and his team didn’t just stop at creating a new product to combat today’s new normal.
Following best health and safety practices, WorkSuites even opened two new locations for its members in the last three months.
While it may seem like all sunshine and rainbows, Flip made sure to emphasize some of the challenges that he and his team faced.
“We’ve hit plenty of roadblocks,” said Flip. “What really slowed [the process] down was the permitting process – which in normal time would take two weeks.”
“For one location we waited four months and for the other we waited three and a half months.”
Yet, speaking through some of the difficult moments that Flip and his team had faced, his tone continually exuded a sense of optimism – a feeling that WorkSuites and other coworking providers are wholly prepared for the future.
“All-in-all, I think that our industry will be a winner in the disruption [the pandemic] has caused,” exclaimed Flip. “Call it by 2022, the flexible workspace industry will be healthier than it was in 2019.”
“I think that this will accelerate the move away from long-term, traditional, real estate leasing and more towards flexibility – which is what we offer.”
Following hand-in-hand with flexibility is today’s desired trend of hybrid work schedules and adaptability.
“Hybrid is the new buzzword,” Flip exclaimed. “For education, for office space, for everything.”
“We got creative with our hybrid coworking but I think you’re going to see a lot more shared space providers getting creative. Whether you call it hybrid or part-time.
“You’re going to see a lot of people working from home one or two days a week, working from a corporate office one or two days a week, and from a shared space provider one or two days of week and we are going to have to continually develop products to meet that demand.”