Picture the stereotypical member of a coworking space. If you’re like many, you see a fresh-out-of-college app developer or the hip-looking staff of an upstart online media outlet. Industrious co-founder and CEO Jamie Hodari, however, sees companies like Pfizer, Freddie Mac and GM. In fact, all three of those blue chip behemoths — along with players from the new establishment like Lyft, Pinterest and Mashable — have recently chosen flexible workspaces from Industrious over more traditional office build-outs.
As Hodari explains, shifting the shared workplaces model from startup rent-a-desk to Fortune 500 partner has been core to the company since its inception. “Our mission is to deliver an amazing day at work,” he says, “while providing workplaces that are commensurate with the level of professionalism that American businesses expect.”
It’s the latter part of the equation that truly differentiates Industrious from its peers. In a Forbes profile last year, Hodari elaborated. “Our goal, from the beginning, was to create a more social or communal work environment that takes advantage of sharing economy dynamics, but still is absolutely beautiful and professional enough that any business can feel totally comfortable and proud of doing business there.”
And when Hodari says any, he means it. Industrious services individuals and fledgling outfits in need of basic infrastructure, emerging companies looking to expand their geographic footprint without the pressure of a long-term lease and established players looking to outsource their workplace management needs.
Our research has shown that employees will be happier if there’s a good park within a few minutes walk,” says Hodari... “A mix of open and closed spaces is core to Industrious’s design theory.”
Building upon the basics
Catering to this wide array of companies can be challenging. But while others in the coworking industry have focused on solving the problem through trendy space design, Industrious has gone beyond simply designing a space solution to redefining the workplace experience. Its combination of research-driven design and a deeply humanistic view of service leads to workspaces that are well-suited to any modern workforce, regardless of age or industry.
It starts with choosing the right building. In addition to centrality and access to important perks like on-site gyms and dry-cleaning services, Hodari cites other assets that have been shown to increase happiness and productivity. Natural light, for example, can matter a great deal, with World Green Building Council research concluding that workers with windows got 46 more minutes of sleep per night. Proximity to outdoor space is also key. “Our research has shown that employees will be happier if there’s a good park within a few minutes walk,” says Hodari. “So we look for that instead of spending up to be in an austere building with a big marble lobby.”
Industrious architects and designers then decide on what mix of private, collaborative and community space is appropriate for the location, local industry and likely clientele. Research shows that an employee’s perception of how much space they have will impact their satisfaction (and crucially, dissatisfaction) more than any other common measure of indoor environment quality. But what constitutes adequate space depends on a company’s needs, tasks and workstyles. This is why, as Hodari puts it, “A mix of open and closed spaces is core to Industrious’s design theory.”
Making it about others also means that we have to create workspaces that embody the vibe and personality of the communities in which they’re situated
Community as a foundational principle
Furniture and decor are then selected with the aim of projecting the confidence and professionalism members need. Industrious is careful to accomplish this without putting style before substance. “We make our spaces about our customers, not about us,” says Hodari. “Industrious branding is elegant and minimal, which makes it possible for us to work hand-in-hand with companies to celebrate their own brands and make their spaces their own.”
“Making it about others,” he continues, “also means that we have to create workspaces that embody the vibe and personality of the communities in which they’re situated.” Food and coffee, for instance, are sourced from local establishments, and color schemes, furnishings and artwork are chosen so as to play off of the aesthetics of the neighborhood in which a workspace is situated.
But of everything that separates Industrious from its competitors, Hodari insists that the real difference is his company’s core focus on the communities that its spaces foster. “People spend more time at work than anywhere else. That’s why our community managers are focused on not only meticulously maintaining the space itself, but also understanding the unique personalities, wants and needs of the people within it. It takes a lot of work to do it right.”
Fueling stability through collaboration
That work, it seems, is paying off. With 52 spaces in 34 cities and with the company’s footprint having doubled between 2017 and 2018, Industrious is proving itself to be a key player in the space. And with significant domestic and international growth planned for the next 12 months, its showing no signs of slowing down.
Industrious believes that its growth also means good things for real estate at large. “Landlords and workplace providers should share in the financial upside of coworking. We want to be a close ally to landlords and to create a new standard of collaborative, symbiotic partnership between providers and the real estate industry as a whole.”
To that end, working with KBS has been a major step forward. “KBS has been impressed with the quality space that Industrious offers to tenants nationwide,” said KBS Senior VP and Asset Manager, Giovanni Cordoves. “Its vision for quality and community complements our vision to always provide the best locations and the best possible space for our tenants.”
The end result, Hodari hopes, will be happier employees at thousands of organizations, more productive companies and a more stable, sustainable real estate market that will benefit not just Industrious and its partners like KBS, but the cities in which they operate and the economy at large.