Mark Hemmeter - CEO of Office Evolution

Co-working: An office trend here to stay

Changes in the ways people work has led to changes in the ways people want to work, and both real estate experts and business owners think that one of those changes, the rise of co-working, isn’t going away.

“The world has fundamentally shifted the way people work,” said Emilie Kintner, general manager of Colorado for Galvanize. “I think co-working has staying power.”

Several shifts have paved the way for co-working spaces to succeed. Technology such as cloud storage of data makes it easier to work from wherever, which means offices no longer need private spaces for every employee. Many workplaces are looking to have employees collaborate, made easier with open floor plans. And small businesses are looking for the benefits of an office without wanting to deal with fixing the copier or hiring a receptionist.

“Companies right now prefer not to have long-term commitments and not have all this liability on the books,” said William Edmundson, chief operations officer of Louisville-based Office Evolution. “They want to be flexible if they close or add a division and not be stuck with a long-term lease.”

On the Front Range, new co-working spaces continue to crop up. In April, Spaces leased 30,000 square feet in Broomfield. In February, desk chair opened in Loveland. In October of last year a family-owned co-working space, Campworks, opened in Boulder, and was specifically tailored to outdoor enthusiasts.

Co-working has become prevalent enough that, like Campworks, co-working owners are differentiating their business models to stand out in the field.

Office Evolution, for example, a Louisville-based co-working franchise with locations across the U.S., tailors itself to industries outside the typical co-working purview of tech and creative services.

“When people think of co-working, they think of a wide-open place with earbuds and a pingpong table, but that’s not our market,” Edmundson said. “We’re a suburban model. There are so many who live in suburban areas who need a place where they can work and that’s flexible.”

In addition to locating in suburban areas, Office Evolution locations tend to have lots of private offices, ideal for occupations like lawyers and psychologists, who might want the benefits of a shared working space without sacrificing privacy.

Other co-working spaces, like Denver-based Galvanize, have the shared office aspect as just one piece of a bigger overall offering.

In addition to providing a community where startups can work in a shared space and collaborate, Galvanize also provides a curriculum of technology training and development.

“The pipeline of technical talent most companies need is very bad,” said Kintner. “We provide on-campus programs, different short courses like data analytics. It was about how do we not only create new tech talent but in addition how do we take more senior developers and provide them with the opportunity to level up in their careers.”

Both Galvanize and Office Evolution have seen success in their models. Galvanize has locations in Boulder, Denver, Seattle, San Francisco, Austin and New York. (Galvanize had a location in Fort Collins but it closed in 2016. Kintner said she believes Galvanize opened before Fort Collins was ready to sustain the Galvanize community-and-curriculum concept. There is now a Spaces co-working concept at its former location.) Office Evolution has 44 locations across the state, including new locations in Longmont and Houston.

Changes in real estate have also led to the prevalence of co-working.

“Office rent is going up pretty dramatically,” said Mark Bradley, managing broker of Realtec in Greeley. “Companies are looking how to be most efficient with the space they have.”

Habits in working have changed enough that co-working is likely to be a permanent part of the office landscape.

Joshua Guernsey

“I think it fits a nice niche in the market,” said Josh Guernsey, managing partner and co-founder of Waypoint Real Estate in Fort Collins. “It supplements the traditional space well.”

Co-working operators also expect their business to be a long-lasting one, although there will always be variations.

“I think it’s the opposite of a fad; it’s a solid trend,” said Mark Hemmeter, founder and CEO of Office Evolution. “But there are always going to be winners and losers. We’ve seen momentum for a long time, but it comes down to how you surf the tidal wave.”

Kintner said that she believes co-working is here to stay, although it, like most industries, will go through its own iterations and shifts.

“The pendulum always swings back,” she said. “But I don’t think it’s a 5- to 10-year swing; I think it’s a 15- to 20- to 30-year swing. The way we work as a society has shifted dramatically, and with tech and how we interact with colleagues and how we connect with them, it’s so different.”

Changes in the ways people work has led to changes in the ways people want to work, and both real estate experts and business owners think that one of those changes, the rise of co-working, isn’t going away.

“The world has fundamentally shifted the way people work,” said Emilie Kintner, general manager of Colorado for Galvanize. “I think co-working has staying power.”

Several shifts have paved the way for co-working spaces to succeed. Technology such as cloud storage of data makes it easier to work from wherever, which means offices no longer need private spaces for every employee. Many workplaces are looking to have employees collaborate, made easier with open floor plans. And small businesses are looking for the benefits of an office without wanting to deal with fixing the copier or hiring a receptionist.

“Companies right now prefer not to have long-term commitments and not have all this liability on the books,” said William Edmundson, chief operations officer of Louisville-based Office Evolution. “They want to be flexible if they close or add a division and not be stuck with a long-term lease.”

On the Front Range, new co-working spaces continue to crop up. In April, Spaces leased 30,000 square feet in Broomfield. In February, desk chair opened in Loveland. In October of last year a family-owned co-working space, Campworks, opened in Boulder, and was specifically tailored to outdoor enthusiasts.

Co-working has become prevalent enough that,…