Vogue publishes that SoHo House, the Club network, is getting into coworking, opening a work plan that starts at 400$ in NYC and planning to offer coworking plans in their other locations – including Berlin and Barcelona – over the next months.
Coworking started as a low-end alternative to traditional Business Centres, the space dominated by Regus, a company I worked for for 5 years at the beginning of my career.
Initially, there was a big push for value-based coworking: Spaces, mostly, but with a focus on values that were defined by the coworking thought leaders as: community, openness, collaboration, accessibility and sustainability. Around these values arose events like GCUC, Coworking Europe or Coworking Spain that I was lucky to attend and speak at back in 2012 and multinational associations like Open Coworking and initiatives such as the Coworking Map or the Coworking Visa, that I was honoured to lead in 2013.
With the growth of coworking memberships, a lot of entrepreneurs saw coworking as a way to make money. These very legit initiatives marketed themselves as places to get cheap chairs, wifi and coffee, and attracted a lot of professionals that dreaded working from home and saw in these spaces a great alternative to couches and coffee shops.
With time, coworking has matured and developed in different directions, including turning to interior design and luxury to provide premium experiences. It’s interesting to see how even Regus has ended up giving the premium crown to their coworking branch, Spaces, and how WeWork has managed to sell coworking seats over 500$ a month.
The Spaces cater to more demanding professionals that may not need to leave their homes and will just do so if the alternative is significantly better than what they have. They are not looking for a chair and a coffee machine. They want beautiful work environments and high-value interactions.
Now SoHo House jumps to the coworking arena and has a proposal few existing spaces can offer: Premium locations with Gyms, Spas, Rooms and Restaurants that are already frequented by top class customers. Up til now most areas of SoHo House locations around the world were closed to the general public. With SoHo’s coworking plans, high couture coworking is going to be a tough competence for high-end coworking spaces.
I anticipate other hotel chains will enter the game, and I am excited to see how coworking changes into co-living (a membership that gives access to work spaces but also leisure spaces and rooms) over the next few years.