Why Bigger Coworking Spaces Aren’t Always Better

Small Table With Laptops

Most humans are hard-wired to want the biggest and the best, whether you’re talking about burgers or boats. Independents are no different, and we often push for growth without really thinking about what’s best for our business or clients.

As interest in coworking increases all over the world, many space owners will be tempted to move the community out of its loft or small storefront, and into larger warehouses or standalone buildings. While expansion might allow space for more members, it could actually have a negative affect on the level of comfort and collaboration.

Seat capacity of Coworking Spaces in Europe (Source: Entreprise Globale & Tech4i2)

The recent Global Coworking Study found that over 50 percent of coworkers prefer to share a workspace with less than 20 people, and at least 21 percent say they work well in a space with fewer than 50 other coworkers. Less than 4 percent of respondents said they’d be willing to work in a workspace with more than 50 users.

There are a few reasons why these findings make sense, both for coworkers and space owners:

A More Intimate Community

When a coworking space maintains a small to moderate size, the members are more likely to get to know each other on a personal level. This facilitates more comfortable conversations and productive collaboration. A massive space with hundreds of members might be lucrative, but it’s likely to lose the intimacy and spontaneity that makes the coworking community so special. Members become ships passing in the night–with no knowledge of the struggles or successes of their fellow independents.

Higher Desk Utilization

It might seem counter-intuitive for a coworking space owner to limit the growth of the community, but as the Global Coworking Study points out, there are some interesting reasons for doing so. In addition to a less connected community, bigger coworking spaces usually see a lower the desk utilization load factor, and fewer full-time members. Members of smaller coworking spaces know that desks are limited, and they’re more likely to sign up for permanent desk space so they’ll be assured a space no matter when they decide to work.

What do you think?

Do you prefer a coworking space to have fewer than 50 members? Why or why not? Share your thoughts in a comment!

Read more insights from the survey:
Part 1 – 1st Global Coworking Study: What Coworkers Want
Part 2 – 1st Global Coworking Study: The Coworker’s Profile
Part 3 – 1st Global Coworking Study: The Coworking Spaces
Part 4 – 1st Global Coworking Study: Female Coworker vs. Male Coworker

Image Credit: Flickr – #96

  • Bethbot52

    I definitely agree. I think it would make me sad to have a Cohere grow so large/busy that I couldn’t know everyone by name and specialty.

  • I’ve struggled back in forth with Cohere’s growth spurts and constant questioning from non-members asking me when I’m going to expand. I think we’ll stay right where we are until something else manifests!

  • We’re among the 52% of spaces in the 8-19 seat range, and it’s definitely the size most appealing to me as both a user and operator… if we are lucky enough to be thinking about expansion some day, then I would only do it in the context of opening another similar size space rather than making this one larger… there are still operational efficiencies to be gained from managing multiple units over one, and I’d like to think the culture can be better maintained this way…

    • Good point! I’ve been toying with the idea of having several mini-coworking sites sprinkled around the city. I think this could be a good fit for our bicycle commuters and reduces the amount of time it would take to get to work. It would be cool to have the smaller spaces all interconnected and coming together for larger social and educational events.

  • Why Bigger Coworking Spaces Aren't Always Better #coworking http://bit.ly/i7lahI

  • do you agree? RT @CohereLLC: Why Bigger #Coworking Spaces Aren't Always Better #coworking http://bit.ly/i7lahI

  • Great article by @coherellc :: Why Bigger Coworking Spaces Aren't Always Better :: http://ht.ly/3KE7G

  • RT @zenbungalow: Great article by @CohereLLC :: Why Bigger Coworking Spaces Aren't Always Better :: http://ht.ly/3KE7G

  • RT @GoneCoworking: do you agree? RT @CohereLLC: Why Bigger #Coworking Spaces Aren't Always Better #coworking http://bit.ly/i7lahI

  • Insightful points!

    Growing to ~5000 square feet and over 120 members has made getting people to know everyone at Indy Hall very difficult, even for me. We’re thinking hard about our growth patterns, which are slow and steady but always up.

  • Alex, I hear you. If I get more than 2 new members at a time it’s exponentially more difficult to do all of the introductions and really get to know them! Also, I’ve been noticing that people INSIDE of Cohere want it to stay the same size. People OUTSIDE of Cohere want it to grow. Which, when you think about it, is pretty telling.

  • Wanna leave a comment about the growth blog post? @MainStVentures @ZenBungalow @zevillage http://ht.ly/3KE7G

  • 大きなコワーキング・スペースが良いとは言えない、その理由は、日本じゃまだ気が早い話だった。でも調査の結果、半数のコワーキング・スペースが8席から19席で運営されている。 http://bit.ly/gP7sIj

  • RT @HissyNC: 大きなコワーキング・スペースが良いとは言えない、その理由は、日本じゃまだ気が早い話だった。でも調査の結果、半数のコワーキング・スペースが8席から19席で運営されている。 http://bit.ly/gP7sIj

  • RT @CohereLLC: Why Bigger Coworking Spaces Aren't Always Better #coworking http://bit.ly/i7lahI

  • Pingback: Why Being Social Is More Important Than Social Media | Cohere Coworking Community()

  • Pingback: Poking Holes In Punchcard Memberships | Cohere Coworking Community()

  • Pingback: What The 2nd Global Coworking Survey Says About You | Cohere Coworking Community()

Our blog is pretty awesome.
What are you looking for?

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Stay in touch with news and events from the Cohere community with a monthly subscription to our newsletter.

The only spam we like is fried. We assume you feel the same.