Thinking of moving your business into a co-working space like Regus Spaces or WeWork?
(UPDATED 3/2/2020) Thinking of moving into a new office, but not sure if you should stick to the traditional model or try something more Millennial-oriented? A co-working space such as WeWork or Regus Spaces could be a major game-changer for you if you're looking for an integrative growth strategy.
I test-drove two of the biggest names in co-working office space for a month, and have been working out of one of them ever since (2 years now).
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As the owner of a start-up stage business (a growth hacking marketing agency), I know how important office space is to our overall success. I also know that the workforce is changing, so this isn't just impacting businesses like mine... it's in everybody's best interests to adapt to it vs fight it.
Moving was part of our business growth strategy, and I wanted to lean into this new trend.
In this review, I will cover the following:
- What is a co-working space?
- WeWork Ratings:
- Regus Spaces Ratings:
- The side-by-side comparison & Overall SCORES
Co-working space is different from shared office space in that there is more of a community environment in the former.
In fact, you've probably heard about Regus, dating back several years. They've been at the office space management game since the 80s. I personally have known several colleagues over the years use them as remote locations. With each office you can get a new address and have your mail and phones managed by the property manager. You get instant infrastructure.
Shared offices are typically professional and feel very "corporate."
Co-working spaces are an evolved version of this, with the core focus on people being around other people. This means there is more emphasis on traditionally shared spaces, like the lobby and kitchen, but they definitely kick it up a notch. Right now I'm sitting at WeWork's equivalent of a "hot desk" at the Regus Spaces in Costa Mesa, and they're playing 80s hiphop on the stereo.
That should give you an idea...
Setting the right goals:
Before I jump into the comparison, I thought it would behoove me to share with you a little about my growth strategy, because it plays a rather enormous role in my decision to lease office-space of this nature to begin with.
Orange Pegs is spread out all over the United States. Our HQ is in Orange County, because that's where I am from, but by no means are we confined to the OC. My teams can perform their jobs from just about anywhere there's an internet connection and live outlets. Many work from home. In fact, up until recently, I was also working 100% of the time out of my home office.
But we're growing, and the demands of the business require me to be less distracted by the stuff that only happens at home. There's also something to be said about wearing pants to work (as opposed to gym shorts). So, the office move was a no-brainer. However, choosing the right office wasn't. Not only am I thinking about my own sanity, but that of my teams. I intended on having office space for our entire team, and would prefer that we all work through the same company if possible.
Located by the Irvine Spectrum, the WeWork location I am test driving is on the edge of a burgeoning business community. They seem to own a particularly large chunk of the building, and the 3rd and 4th floors are currently where you go if you want to sit in a public setting, eat, or work on a "hot desk."
The kitchen is pretty great. There is always fresh-brewed coffee, water flavored with citrus fruit or cucumbers, and a tap that pours some sort of cleansing beverage. (I keep forgetting what it's called... not something I care for personally, but a pretty cool perk nonetheless)
They also have an "honesty" food bar, where you can use your credit card to buy snacks.
All of the offices are closed in with glass walls, so privacy isn't really a thing... I'll go into some details about individual spaces, but if picking your nose in privacy is important, WeWork is going to be a huge disappointment... They're also all furnished, so you don't need to worry about purchasing or schlepping up your own.
Parking at this location is a bit of a bear. It's $100/month per person to stay in the garage or a 10 minute walk to the Spectrum if you park there for free. I don't know if this is an issue everywhere, but I opted for the walking... mostly because I wanted the extra steps every day.
Other amenities include "phone booths" where you can take private calls, conference rooms that you can pay for with credits you earn by simply being a member, and access to networking events. You also get to use their address and phone/mail answering/routing services.
As far as workspaces go, they have the following options:
- Hot Desk - You can set up anywhere in the lobby-ish area (which is pretty large by lobby standards). But the official space is a series of surfboard tables with outlets (hence the term, "hot"). The chairs are pretty comfortable, although not particularly great for extended sitting periods. Overall, it's a pretty good entry-level option, but you have to get used to always carrying your equipment around with you.
- Dedicated Desk - This is the step up from the hot-desk, where you have your own workspace, and can even lock up your equipment every night when you leave. It's not in the same area as the Hot Desks, but rather, in their own rooms. I noticed that people were more comfortable in there, and some even brought their standing desk converters. A perk here is that you can actually put your logo up on the glass wall in the room where your desk is located.
- Single Desk Office - These are small... very small, in fact. There is literally only room for your desk and you. For many, this is fine. The glass walls make it seem more open (likely by design), so you don't necessarily feel claustrophobic. Nonetheless, you won't be doing any push-ups in there any time soon. But you can put up your logo!
- Double Desk Office - I noticed that some folks actually purchased a two-desk office in order to have a little bit of legroom... But they are still incredibly small. In my personal opinion, the double desk office is about how big the single desk office should be as a bare minimum.
- Multi-Person Offices - They have several size offices from there
- Hot Desk - They start at $220/month on their website. It's almost double that in the Irvine location, and about 15% more expensive than Regus Spaces
- Dedicated Desk - They start at $350/month, but again, quite a bit more than that here in Orange County. And again, they are about 15% more expensive than the same concept at Regus Spaces.
- Single Desk Office - Starting at $450/month, it's actually a pretty decent deal for freelancers. However, we're paying about 60% more than that in Orange County, so it's still decent, but bordering on pricey now, especially if you compare it to the traditional Regus offices. Interestingly, the Regus Spaces single desk office is almost TWICE as much. That said, it's also 4 - 6 times as big.
WeWork is ALL about millennials. I don't say this to be negative, but if you're looking for something semi-professional, you may not want to set up shop here. There are a lot of smaller companies and start-ups as well as freelancers.
The guy who gave me the tour was wearing jeans and a t-shirt, and sharp as a tack, but definitely not buttoned up. This is pretty common there.
It's a fun vibe overall, and you definitely feel like apart of something bigger the moment you walk in.
The music played over the speakers is right up my alley. As I write this, Radiohead is playing, and not the pop stuff that everybody knows (Creep, Karma Police, etc). No, they're playing a track off of In Rainbows, something only a hardcore Radiohead fan like myself can appreciate. Then again, I'm a weirdo... So maybe these people are too...
The office is NICE. The view is great. It's clean, and you definitely see where your money is going.
It's hard to judge from my perspective. I am an introvert by nature, and I come to work, so I didn't make any meaningful connections. It didn't help that the front office seems to only care about signing up new tenants, not retention. So, there was very little interaction with them as well.
My First Impression:
I was definitely impressed when I toured. The people seemed sharp, and the office itself seemed super exciting.
Unfortunately, it also felt very crammed. WeWork must have a MUCH higher cap for their co-working space than Regus Spaces, because no matter what time I arrived, I could NEVER get my hands on one of the private booths or phone booths.
When I WAS lucky enough to get into a phone booth, I was pretty happy with the result. They're private, quiet, and JUST big enough to fit you and a laptop. Many people would set up camp in there, unfortunately, which meant that silly rules like 45 minute limitations were imposed... being a rule-follower, it was extraordinarily frustrating to see others camp out in there for hours at a time. What was also frustrating was to see others who have private offices using them. Their offices were set up right in front of them, so it was easy to see when they became available. However, for the people in the public spaces, you might circle the building 10 times in a day and never get one.
It was very frustrating.
Also, the chairs are wildly uncomfortable. Beyond comprehension HOW uncomfortable they were, actually.
(view from my usual spot - click HERE to see more)
Located on the edge of Irvine and Costa Mesa (Intersect), just a hop, skip, and a jump away from John Wayne airport, I am smack dab in the middle of a thriving business community. They own half of the building, but the main shared space is on the first floor, with a few things on floor two.
The kitchen here is decent, and a little more practical and inviting for working. They don't have fresh-brewed coffee, but they have a machine that will make you a variety of hot drinks for a small charge. The water comes from a filtered refrigerator, so not nearly as exciting as WeWork in that department. There is also no weird cleansing drink on tap (Kambucha?)... which is a bummer, because my wife is a huge fan of the stuff at WeWork. I'm not though, so I guess it doesn't matter in the end for me...
What I REALLY like are the booths. They offer more privacy than a typical hot desk, and very comfortable. Some days I'll set up shop in there the entire day. Others I'll just eat there. Usually it's both.
I usually sit at one of the communal tables though. Each one seats 5 comfortably, or 10 in total. This is the most comparable space with the WeWork surfboards, which is what constitutes the majority of their space. The difference here is that Spaces has small dividers to provide a little more privacy and structured space, and the tables themselves are much larger. They're also in the corners, so a little more private than WeWork. Overall, they are considerably more inviting. And the chairs... WAY more comfortable at Spaces.
They don't have a food bar, but one of the buildings nearby has a rotating restaurant, and they have a food truck come on Fridays. I'm also told that a permanent restaurant is being built in the common space between buildings.
Where they really overshadow WeWork is with the additional amenities... You can check out a beach cruiser to ride to lunch a half a mile away if you don't want to take a car and battle for parking. The patio outside is HUGE and has lounge chairs, couches, cornhole and a massive Jenga game. This particular building also shares an outdoor center where they have more places to eat, swing, and even play pool... They also have shared access to a pretty impressive gym.
All of the offices are closed in with glass walls, but they have the option for sandblasting at eye level, and the bottom on many are solid and not see-through. In addition, their conferences have built-in curtains for quite a bit more privacy.
Parking isn't great, but it's better than the WeWork I test drove... It's slightly cheaper, and not in a big structure, so it's easier to get to your car. However, the garage keeps things cooler... This is definitely based on individual offices.
Other amenities (similar to WeWork) include "phone booths" where you can take private calls, and discounted conference rooms that you can pay for with cash. You also get to use their address and phone/mail answering/routing services.
Admittedly, I HATE the phone booths at Regus Spaces. They are simply awful. They have no sound treatments, so it sounds like you're in the bathroom when you take calls in there. Additionally, the shelf for holding your laptop is TINY! Lastly, the lighting is awful. Just awful. A single light straight above... so, forget video conferences unless you bring your own light source.
HUGE swing and a miss for Regus...
As far as workspaces go, they have the following options:
- Hot Desk - You can set up anywhere that isn't closed in by doors and walls. There are large tables with plugs, and one with dividers on its way (this place opened literally one week ago. They also have a couple of nooks you can find here and there... some with desks and some with couches.
- Dedicated Desk - This is practically identical to the dedicated desk situation with WeWork only slightly more private from passerbys and a little cheaper.
- Single Desk Office - After visiting WeWork's version of this, I was pleasantly surprised at how much space they give you. You could actually fit a couple of desks and other furniture if you wanted.
- Multi-Person Offices - They have several size offices from there
Unlike WeWork, Regus doesn't have a pricing page I could find that lists starting costs for any of their concepts. So, I instead provided a breakdown of how their prices compare.
- Hot Desk - About 15% less than WeWork's equivalent
- Dedicated Desk - About 15% less than WeWork's equivalent
- Single Desk Office - About 90% MORE than WeWork's single-desk office, but by no means would I call them equal. The office at Regus Spaces is about 4 - 6 times as large. If WeWork had a 3-4 desk space, that's what I would compare it to from a size standpoint
The folks working for Regus Spaces are quite a bit more professional and knowledgeable. And they're just better at managing an office... more personable (I get greeted by name every day here vs the inadvertent snubbing I experience at WeWork).
The office is beautiful. It's slightly less modern-looking than WeWork, making it slightly more professional. But it's a toss-up as to which one is better.
The people here are not that much different than the folks at WeWork, but there are definitely more established businesses taking up space, which means a more diverse mix of folks. Overall, it feels less tense, which is likely due to having more space. They also tend to migrate out of their offices more at Spaces.
My First Impression:
I had some challenges with these guys out of the gate. 1) finding information about Spaces online is next to impossible. I don't like that they don't have any pricing posted online, and it isn't readily apparent that there are two different types of offices offered by Regus. I only found out about Spaces because the guy who called to schedule my appointment recommended it after I mentioned that I was also looking at a WeWork location. Worse yet, the same guy sent me on a tour of one of the older Regus offices, not a Spaces location, because he didn't know any better... even knowing that I wanted something like WeWork.
They did rebound, however. The VP of sales jumped in and took care of me, and the person who gave me the tour was awesome!
Overall, I found both to be fantastic options. Neither would be considered a risky growth strategy in my book... not for start-up stage businesses like mine or more established ones like Expedia... However, there was a clear winner for me, and the trophy for best space for serious businesses goes to Regus Spaces!
Not only do they knock it out of the park with their office managers, an area where WeWork fell completely flat, but they do a great job of encouraging community. I've even generated new business by networking with people who are there as early and late as I am.
Tell me about your experiences! Have you been to either? If so, what are your takeaways? Do you have any hands on exposure to both? WeWork Vs Regus Spaces - what's your choice?
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