With social distancing and stay at home work orders, COVID has dramatically changed the professional working landscape. Many businesses have been forced to rethink the office, some abandoning them entirely, and nearly all are using remote teams to get business done.
Even though co-working spaces have seen a 50% decline in foot traffic since social distancing, as the market slowly reopens, many businesses have said they are keeping their workforce remote indefinitely. What does this mean for co-working spaces in the upcoming years?
Is The Co-Working Space Dead?
We caught up with Don Mastrangelo, our Founder and CEO at our flagship Parlay Cafe location in Temecula, California to talk about the future of co-working.
“Before COVID the industry was expanding,” he explains. “The growth was so rapid there were problems but the need was evident.”
Companies like WeWork, Regus, ctrl collective, Industrious, VentureX, Cross Campus, (the list is literally endless) were opening and expanding faster than we could imagine. Companies would rent office space based on size and need and as those companies grew, so did the co-working space.
Since the expansion of co-working spaces was rapid and seemingly popular, outsiders couldn’t predict the problems that were arising with some of the spaces. According to CNBC WeWork was already facing the following challenge in 2019:
“Increasingly, WeWork and other co-working spaces are pivoting from targeting the independent worker to luring in corporate accounts, promising an alternative to cubicle-ville by providing flashy amenities. That’s a huge mistake, as 40% of American workers are expected to be independent contractors by 2020.”
In addition to heading in the wrong direction, cash flow and financing challenges riddled the industry and then boom!
The global shutdown struck.
“It was devastating for most of the industry. They were struck like any other business,” remembers Don. “Most tenants were multi-member teams, small businesses that used the space to conduct business, and the work-from-home orders just made it make sense for them not to come in. The spaces were trying to make tenants pay whether or not they were using the space and it all fell apart pretty quickly.”
The problem is, people still need a space to work and while working from home is great, remote workers need an occasional break from the home office.
The Birth of Safe, Luxurious, Affordable Remote Work Subscriptions
Don saw the remote-working revolution as a freelancer-focused effort long before the lockdown. His design for Parlay Café always had the small-team and solopreneur in mind which is why it has remained profitable and productive during the pandemic with luxurious spaces available and social distancing in place.
Parlay Café is a cyber cafe with a members-only co-working lounge that fills the niche between the local coffee shop and co-working space.
It’s designed for individual users who work from a desk, like freelancers, customer service reps, salespeople, accountants, agents, attorneys, and even students – really anyone looking to accomplish work in a clean, quiet environment with strong wifi and great coffee. Thus, our model wasn’t as severely impacted by COVID, in fact it’s growing during the pandemic because it caters to individual contributors and remote workers.
“We’ve found by making our location accessible by the hour, day, or monthly subscription, regular people can afford a nice, reliable place to work and they want to keep coming back. It’s not like going to work at an office, it’s more like a first-class lounge at an airport. We are pioneering the transition to ‘work-near-home’ instead of ‘work-from-home’.”
An Industry Disruptor
An industry that pivoted toward deep pockets just before the working world was forced indoors is struggling to find its footing while Parlay Café has a model that can service the nation’s growing remote force through franchising.
“Very few of the companies that were working from or renting a co-working office for their team will return. It’s unclear as to whether or not they even will return since everybody’s gone to remote work. And now the co-working industry is trying to reinvent itself and re-engineer to accommodate home-based workers as we are, but that was always our niche,” says Don.
Fifty million Americans will be looking for a productive, quiet, clean space they can work from, even a few hours a week. That’s a lot of people. “We’re ready,” Don beams. “This is exactly what we’re designed to do.”
With a Parlay Cafe in every neighborhood, the possibility of a safe, remote, productive workforce becomes quickly realized. “This can be a huge benefit to every community who welcomes us. We’re very excited about working with our future partners and serving our future members. We realize we’re removing the stress for most folks who just want to get work done. Helping people do that is what feels the best.”
We’re on a mission to bring a Parlay Café near you at the speed of light.
But we can’t do it without your help!
Invest in Parlay Café on WeFunder to help us make our vision of affordable and COVID-safe working spaces near you today!
If the idea of opening your own Parlay Café excites you, contact us to get more information on becoming a franchisee!
Have any ideas, feedback, or suggestions?
We’d love to hear them! Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.