Co-working firm WorkSuites’ latest location in North Dallas has just opened its doors.
The flexible office center at 6060 North Central Expressway, called WorkTank, has more private work areas and even outdoor spaces. The center’s opening was delayed to allow the office layout to be restructured.
The space was redesigned with small private offices and work desks booked for one person per day.
Welcome to the new model for shared offices in a COVID-19 world.
“We are selling basically part-time offices,” said WorkSuites’ CEO Flip Howard. “You have fewer common areas.
“This is our new hybrid, and I think it’s going to work out well for us,” said Howard, whose Dallas-based co-working firm has opened seven new locations in the last year and a half.
Like other shared-office providers, Howard had to rethink his business plan for the pandemic.
The open collaborative working areas and shared desks that were hallmarks of co-working offices aren’t ideal in a pandemic when social distancing is required.
Co-working offices across the country are seeking bankruptcy, shutting down or trying to back out of leases.
Two of the biggest North Texas shared-office providers — WeWork and Regus — have sought relief in the courts.
Regus put several of its Dallas-Fort Worth offices into bankruptcy. And WeWork is suing landlords in North Texas and other U.S. markets in hopes of getting millions of dollars to support their operations.
“Since COVID hit in March, nobody in any flexible workspace is doing as well as they were. It hurt all of us,” Howard said. “Everybody was doing well up until then.
“Any idiot could have made money in the co-working business, and plenty did.”
Howard said he’s working to retool his shared-office centers to meet the demands of social distancing while slowing growth.
“We are preserving cash right now,” he said. “Those that were struggling and had serious issues before the pandemic probably won’t make it to the other side of this.
“You have to learn how to survive making less money.”
He’s starting to see some bright spots in the business.
WorkSuites opened a two-floor location in August in Southlake near Southlake Town Square.
“It opened with things starting to get back to normal, and last week was our best sales week in the whole year,” Howard said.
Despite the pandemic, some co-working companies are still growing their North Texas footprints.
New York-based shared-office firm Industrious is building a 23,000-square-foot co-working location in downtown Dallas’ Farmers Market district. The company is leasing ground floor commercial space in Spectrum Properties Ltd.’s Taylor Lofts building at 910 S. Pearl Expressway.
And Dallas-based co-working company pioneer Common Desk just rented 22,000 square feet of space in the more than century-old Continental Gin building in Deep Ellum.
Venture X plans to open a new co-working center at Dallas Love Field early next year. The shared-office provider is leasing more than 22,000 square feet in the historic Braniff Centre buildings on the east side of the airport.
“I would have liked for it to open sooner, but everything has slowed down with COVID,” said Todd Nelson, operator of the franchise. “From the beginning, we had decided we would emphasize the private offices over open space desks.
“I only have four shared desks,” he said. “Everything else is private office.”
Nelson’s Venture X shared-office center will occupy space on the first and second floors of the landmark building, which faces Lemmon Avenue. Cushman & Wakefield negotiated the lease.
“With the airport there, not a lot of co-working space is close to it,” he said. “And the office space in the adjacent Bluffview neighborhood is full.
“Also, I’m a history buff, so I love the idea of being in the old Braniff building.”
Built in 1958 for the Dallas airline, the midcentury modern building has been transformed into a retail, office and aviation complex.
Nelson said that the co-working companies that are struggling during the pandemic had the wrong business model.
“They leased more space than they could fill, betting on the come,” he said. “We are going to be the third space for the corporate world — offices, people working for home and us.
“I can rent private offices on a daily basis — someplace you can meet with a client.”