In business, first impressions are everything. This, among other reasons, is why entrepreneurs have gravitated toward coworking spaces that offer the latest designs and amenities at an affordable price.
But not all shared office environments are alike. In many coworking spaces and office centers, this is apparent from the moment prospective tenants walk in the door.
While some coworking spaces heavily promote their own brand, selling themselves as an exclusive club for “members,” others stay in the background and, in some cases, even limit the amount of signage clients are allowed to display in hallways and common areas.
So, which model is best for business?
It often comes down to weighing a few pros and cons that, when evaluated against the needs of clients and employees, can steer companies toward the coworking space that makes sense for them.
Specific considerations for branded coworking spaces include the following 6 pros and cons:
PRO: Appear ‘hip’ and ‘part of the club.’
As evidenced by its recent $10 billion valuation, WeWork has built a name for itself, and some businesses – particularly startups – want to be part of that growth. As a result, many companies embrace the branded model and use the success of their office provider to portray their own upward trajectory.
CON: Your brand spotlight is gone.
If an office provider displays its own logo and allows each of its clients to do the same, it can be difficult for any one company to stand out. Visitors who come to the center for a new business meeting may walk away remembering the name of the office provider but not the company that brought them there.
PRO: Modern aesthetics reflect the latest office design trends.
Because many coworking spaces are newly established, the majority offer open floor plans, creative wall treatments and trendy furniture that can help with employee recruitment.
CON: Privacy is hard to find.
In order to create a sense of openness while maintaining some level of privacy, some coworking spaces have started using glass walls to separate private offices from lounges and other common areas. But this may not be enough for businesses that want to have a collaborative workspace without feeling like they’re in a fishbowl.
PRO: Network in a fun, social environment.
With everything from kegerators to arcade games, coworking spaces give freelancers and entrepreneurs plenty of opportunities to socialize and network with their peers.
CON: Distractions easily pull people away from their work.
Most people who lease space in a communal office are there to work, but this can be difficult to do in an environment with so much noise – either visually or because of the intense game of ping-pong taking place a few steps away from their desk.
While not entirely distraction-free, unbranded coworking spaces tend to cater to professionals that want their work environment to look and feel much like the floor of a typical office building.
Many still offer networking events and collaboration-friendly spaces like lounges and coffee bars, but by limiting signage and over-the-top amenities, they provide a different type of experience that’s especially appealing to businesses that want the social and financial benefits of coworking without the coworking label.
This article has been edited and condensed.
Ron Bockstahler is co-founder and CEO of Amata Office Solutions, Chicago’s largest privately owned office suites provider. Founded in 2002, Amata specializes in office solutions for companies requiring up to 10,000 square feet of office space. A licensed brokerage, Amata’s clientele includes businesses of all sizes, including solo practitioners and startups, as well as large corporations looking to establish satellite locations in Chicago. Connect with @AmataOffices on Twitter.