Sure, people had heard of coworking and thought it was a pretty cool idea. Just … you know — for other people, for other companies.
Then offices shut down for a pandemic and legions went home where, for many, the novelty of being home wore off quickly. Some needed to get away from the distractions at home. For others, home was perhaps too quiet.
Whatever the reason, new people started finding their way to coworking spaces. Leaders at Greenville South Carolina’s Endeavor coworking and meeting space were already thinking they needed to adjust their original menu of membership options to accommodate a wider array of needs. Then COVID-19 arrived and created more interest for more reasons.
Endeavor has created a new annual membership option that allows businesses to build their own, customizable plan from a menu of benefits. The change was largely informed by client needs since March of 2021.
In a sense, the coworking sector has been training for years for a pandemic that they did not anticipate. Coworking space and shared office entrepreneurs saw long ago that there was more than one way to “do office.”
Shannon Wilbanks, managing partner of Endeavor and Erwin Creates, said their typical client before COVID-19 was a creative professional or entrepreneur.
“But now, given the way the business landscape is changing, we’re seeing more and more types of professionals and business recognizing the value and flexibility offered by a collaborative workspace like Endeavor,” said Wilbanks, who worked with cofounder Joe Erwin when the two were part of Erwin Penland. “And from a business teams standpoint, we’ve met businesses who needed new solutions for meeting and work spaces because of the changes COVID has had on their business. That’s just led us to this invigorating opportunity to meet more people and companies who are creatively figuring their way through the pandemic, and it’s been a joy to watch and even help them rise to the challenge.”
Increased use of shared office space is a trend predicted before the pandemic began, and some industry experts say 18 months of a grand experiment in working at home and a rise in hybrid offices has increased interest in coworking space as an option.
According to CoworkingSpaces, an industry publication, the number of coworking spaces worldwide is projected to reach almost 20,000 this year and surpass 40,000 by 2024. The Global Coworking Growth Study estimated before the pandemic that approximately 5 million people will be working from co-working spaces by 2024, an increase of 158% compared to 2020.
And the trend is not limited to private businesses and solo entrepreneurs. According to a study by architecture and design firm The Smith Group, the General Services Administration, published a solicitation in January 2020, after COVID-19 was on the move but before it reached pandemic levels, seeking flexible workspace solutions for federal employees.
Wilbanks said the last 18 months, proving that a segment of office workers can be trusted and efficient while working remotely, bodes well for Endeavor business as well as Greenville in general.
“We’ve seen members grow their businesses here, relocate to Greenville to work remotely, and even create new businesses from relationships formed at Endeavor,” she said. “Greenville’s popularity as a place to live has been well-documented — census results show 19.2% growth in the past decade — and we expect this trend to continue. Along with Greenville’s growing popularity, businesses around the nation have adapted to remote and hybrid work models, allowing employees to choose where they work.”
Anyone can rent space for a day at Endeavor, but members get a discount.
“Recognizing how we can help is at the core of who we are,” she said. “We do a lot of listening! Over the last 18 months we’ve seen new patterns emerge…or rather, we’ve watched everyone completely reconsider what they want and need. So rather than a “set menu” of options that we create, why not put that power completely in businesses’ hands? Because of the customizable nature of this offering and our ability to deliver whatever each business member chooses, we imagine it will remain a part of Endeavor’s membership offerings for a long time. That personal “Endeavor experience” is just part of who we are – truly our unique value proposition.”
Business team members have access to discounted meeting room, day passes for individuals and access to Endeavor’s networking events such as its Collaborators & Cocktails series, and quarterly Getting Down to Business sessions.
“From day one, we’ve had business members of all types that had their own office space but wanted to tap into Endeavor’s meeting rooms, networking/training opportunities, etc.,” Wilbanks said. “But the world has changed, so Endeavor’s new offering is to address everyone’s desire for even more flexibility and customization. Different members value different aspects of Endeavor — some use the conference rooms regularly; others don’t need those but want flexible coworking day passes and to attend networking events. This model allows members to pick and choose what their package looks like in a way that makes financial sense for their business.”