Coworking is clearly ideal for freelancers, digital nomads and remote workers who need a flexible workspace with all the required amenities, but an increasing number of big companies have also taken to leasing whole sections of coworking spaces for some or all of their departments. We look at five corporate giants that have embraced coworking and the benefits it has brought them.
Coworking communities are lively, young and dynamic environments, mostly due to the variety of non-conformist and disruptive thinkers that inhabit them. They are most often the location of choice for tech and other creative start-ups as well as for freelancers and professional nomads looking for bustling and community-driven spaces from which to run their small businesses. Although this might not seem the most obvious place to house big companies, a number of corporations have woken up to the potential benefits of coworking spaces, precisely because of the dynamic and innovative communities that they offer as well as giving them access to potential clients, new technologies and a refreshing mindset.
Let’s take a look at just five corporations that have embraced coworking spaces and what they have gained from making that move into what used to be start-up territory.
In 2017 IBM moved around 600 of its employees to a coworking building in New York. This followed a similar move to eight other coworking locations worldwide, which IBM calls Bluegarage Spaces, giving the tech giant access to a variety of technology start-ups that are also its potential customers. According to IBM’s vice president of cloud and open tech, Angel Diaz the other benefit of coworking is that, “the kind of innovation that occurs there is very unique (…) It allows you to expand your mind. You can really innovate much more if you have the ability to bounce ideas.”
In 2016 Microsoft chose to offer memberships of coworking spaces in New York to around 30% of its workforce in the city. The move, which was replicated in Portland and Philadelphia, not only brought the company’s sales and marketing team closer to some of its target start-up business customers but has also allowed it to remember its own start-up days and recapture the spirit of those leaner times. “We’re a big fan of start-ups. We were one ourselves at the beginning, so we know what those early days were like,” General Manager Matt Donovan told Business Insider, “We’ve been lucky enough to scale as a business and became a large enterprise but [coworking] is ensuring that we retain that we retain that growth mindset and that early hunger we had as a business.”
In early 2019 banking giant HSBC moved over 1,000 of its London-based staff to coworking desks on the city’s Waterloo area. It had previously transferred staff in Hong Kong and other locations to similar spaces. “We can interact with a lot of start-ups and a new generation of entrepreneurs. We want to bring HSBC out into the community and to engage with them,” HSBC’s Head of Business Banking, Daniel Chan, told Jumpstart magazine in a video interview explaining why the bank had embraced coworking in Hong Kong.
In 2017 Chinese online retail giant Alibaba, considered to be Amazon’s biggest competitor, moved some of its workforce into a coworking space in Bengaluru, India. That same year it set up the first smart coworking space in China showing its full commitment to the coworking concept and bringing it completely up to date by embedding cutting-edge office solutions into the highly innovate building. “This intelligent building will connect every equipment through the Internet and use the data generated by the building to promote user experience through cloud computing, which will create more value than the building itself,” Partner and Chairman of the Alibaba Group’s Technical Committee Jian Wang explained at the New.Strat smart building event held that year.
Mark Zuckerberg’s empire is the biggest tenant of a coworking space in Mountain View, California. The move into the flexible working office, located near to Facebook’s headquarters in Menlo Park, California is likely to be a temporary move for Facebook, but has allowed it to accommodate new staff quickly and without a need for pricey real estate acquisitions. “We have secured temporary office space at The Village at San Antonio Center in Mountain View, CA. This new space, with its proximity to our headquarters in Menlo Park, will support part of our growing workforce,” said Facebook spokesperson Jamil Walker in a statement released ahead of the move.