This annual list of the best coworking franchises was revised and updated on June 16, 2021.
The way we work is changing, with growing numbers of employees working remotely or only going into the office part time. Coworking spaces are a result of that trend, an opportunity for people to find a dedicated workspace, away from the distractions of home, even when working freelance or outside the regular office. They provide infrastructure that individual workers can’t afford on their own, but that becomes available within a shared space. That adds flexibility, structure, and even an element of sociability into working lives, and as a result these spaces are growing in popularity.
As of the second quarter of 2020, coworking space represented 2.1% of all office space. That might not sound like much, but it means that around one in fifty office desks is now in one of these shared spaces. More dramatically, it’s nearly double the percentage from only three years earlier. Coworking is clearly growing in popularity, and as the economy continues a shift toward more freelancing, gig employment, and portfolio careers, that’s likely to continue.
In a coworking facility, freelancers and remote workers can do their work from common spaces, open spaces with multiple workstations, or individual offices available for rent. Depending on the level of membership or subscription fees, they have access to conference rooms, kitchen facilities, and office equipment such as copiers, fax machines, and so forth. There were 6,900 coworking spaces in America in 2019, being used by a variety of office workers.
The last few years have seen serious disruption in this industry. In 2019, there was scandal around WeWork, America’s highest profile coworking provider, as huge failings within the company were revealed and its estimated value fell from $47 billion to $10 billion. This fall didn’t reflect a fundamental problem in the business of providing coworking spaces, but it did create alarm. Then came the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, and coworking spaces had to close. In the short term, the pandemic was devastating for the industry, as people had to self-isolate and keep their distance, rather than coming together in shared spaces.
In the longer term, the impact of the pandemic may benefit coworking franchises. It has accelerated a trend toward greater home working that means fewer people will be stuck in their offices. Once they can safely work around others again, some of the people who are now working partially or entirely from home will want a chance to get out of the house, for company, concentration, or better facilities. That could mean more customers for coworking spaces. However, if this benefit is felt, it likely won’t be for another year or two, if not longer.
The devastation at WeWork and the shift toward home working have created opportunities for franchises in the coworking industry, but with many people still sheltering at home and so much uncertainty about the shape of the economic recovery, this is an uncertain sector to get into.
The Top Coworking Franchises of 2021
Regus calls itself “…the world’s largest provider of flexible workspace solutions…” and has the number of locations to back up that claim. Signing up for a Regus membership allows people to work, meet, and host in the company’s worldwide network of business lounges, co-working spaces, and private offices.
The “Lounge” membership is for those who want unlimited drop-in access to any of the company’s business lounges anywhere in the world, with secure WiFi and access to standard office equipment (printer, scanner, copier). The “Co-Working” membership includes the Lounge features plus desk space in any business lounge, reception services, and a 10% discount on meeting room bookings. The “Office” membership provides a furnished private office with cleaning services, plus all the other perks of the other plans.
Founded in Brussels, Belgium in 1989 (now headquartered in Luxembourg and listed on the London Stock Exchange) but franchising only since 2012, there are currently 951 locations, of which 918 are company-owned and 33 are located outside the US (there are currently no franchised US locations).
2. Office Evolution
Office Evolution offers freelancers and remote workers office space, conference rooms, shared workspaces, address and mail options, phone answering, and more. Each option comes with its own rental fees. There are three different base monthly pricing plans for a dedicated desk, a private office, or a micro office. Monthly plans all come with a variety of perks, including reception staff, conference room access along with meeting equipment, kitchen access, and common shared office equipment, along with complimentary wireless internet access.
Founded by Mark Hemmeter in 2003 and franchising since 2012, the number of locations has grown to 72 (up from the previously reported total of 63), of which 10 are company-owned and all are located in the US.
3. Venture X
Venture X offers a half-dozen different membership plans, all of which are available on a month-to-month basis without long-term leasing requirements.
The Community plan is ideal for workers who only need an occasional day of workspace, but want the additional perks that come with membership (access to common areas and membership rates on conference rooms). The Dedicated Desk plan includes a desk in a common area, filing cabinet, and ergonomic chair with unlimited 24/7 access, a mailing address, and three conference room hours per month.
The Private Office plan includes a private office with a full-height glass wall facing toward the community with the other three walls insulated for sound and visual privacy and comes with 24/7 access to the personal lockable office for individual members or for up to 10-member teams, a mailing address, and five conference room hours per month.
The Virtual Office plan comes with a professional business address including mail and package handling (coworking day passes and conference rooms are also available). The Conference Room plan gives access to one of several well-appointed conference rooms for business meeting needs.
Founded by the father-son duo of CEO David Diamond and COO Brett Diamond in Naples, Florida in 2012 and franchising since 2016, the number of locations currently stands at 35 (up from the previously reported total of 23), of which none are company-owned and four are located outside the US.
An Important Note About Our Methodology
The franchises on this list were ranked according to the number of units in the franchise system. If you are a prospective franchisee searching for franchise opportunities that meet or exceed certain performance benchmarks for sales, profits, and return on investment, please check out this list of America’s Most Lucrative Franchises.