Revised and updated June 4, 2020.
The rise of coworking spaces can be tracked right alongside the parallel rise of the gig economy. More people than ever are freelancing, but many of them want an office infrastructure to support their efforts. The answer came in the form of shared office spaces available for rent. There are also more regular employees with flexibility to work some or all of their hours remotely.
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. Entrepreneurs who want to buy into a proven concept in supporting the continuing growth of the gig economy through a coworking opportunity have a few solid options to examine on this list of the 3 best coworking franchises of 2020.
But it’s also important to note that not all is well in the coworking industry. The rising star of the industry was WeWork (not a franchise). As recently as the summer of 2019, it was considered one of the biggest success stories in the history of startups, with an eye-popping valuation of $47 billion and heading for a spectacular IPO (initial public offering). And then it all came crashing down.
Prepping for an IPO means potential investors got to take a deeper look into the company’s financials, which turned out to be a total mess because of poor leadership and management at the top. By the fall of 2019, the founding CEO was ousted, the IPO was scrapped, and the company’s valuation fell to less than $8 billion. And then along came the COVID-19 pandemic, which effectively shut down the whole concept of people coming together and working in shared spaces.
The coronavirus outbreak is without doubt the biggest overall threat to the coworking industry as a whole. For companies who have their financial house in order and can stay afloat long enough to weather this crisis, they should have a chance at coming back strong. But for now, remote working and freelancing isn’t happening in coworking spaces – it’s happening from home if it’s happening at all.
It remains to be seen what lasting impacts a global pandemic will have on the coworking franchise industry, but here are the top 3 coworking franchises of 2020:
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 3,107 locations, of which 3,079 are company-owned (in 120 countries around the world) and 28 are franchised locations outside the US. Right now, there are no franchised locations in the US, but there are company-owned locations around the nation.
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 63 (up by three from the previous year’s total), of which eight 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 23, none of which are company-owned and three of which 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.