The coworking world has been expanding rapidly in the last few years and it’s identity has been tossed around throughout these growing pains. Is it an incubator? A startup hub? An education gathering spot? A new take on executive suites? Or is it a clubhouse for mobile workers to gather? Even though coworking’s identity has been questioned, the business model for most places has been the same, except spaces have grown from under 5,000 sq. ft. to spaces over 50,000 sq. ft. opening on a regular basis. At GCUC this year, I learned of a new approach from The Cove that I’m starting to really like; small spaces on scale.

The Cove is based in DC with over nine locations spanning from 1000 to 15000 sq. ft. each. While WeWork and many spaces in Denver are operating in the tens of thousand sq ft for a single location, The Cove is growing with interconnected neighborhood hubs. The neighborhood hubs become a gathering spot of regulars that live in the area, similar to many of the first independent coworking communities, but the number of hubs is growing rapidly into new parts of town.

At The Cove, members have the ability to go to other parts of town when needed for meetings or just to mix things up, creating a larger community that compliments the local coworking feel. The multiple locations are really important in certain cities where it’s more difficult to get around or spread out, such as Washington DC, New York, LA, Boston, and Houston. I can imagine the scenario when a member goes to their neighborhood hub in Dupont three days a week and regularly contributes to that community, and then heads over to Old Town and Capitol Hill on other days to meet clients without sacrificing time in traffic. The nomadic member isn’t a one-off person, but a regular coworker making friends and connections.

Why I like Small Spaces at Scale:
They create a local coworking space with limited members where relationships can be formed organically.
A larger connected community is formed without sacrificing local ties.
Members can travel to other spaces when needed around town for the same price, creating a competitive advantage to larger spaces.
Expansion is more flexible and less risky with smaller spaces for operators.

The business model overall isn’t changing much but the operations of it are. The Cove isn’t chasing the fast-growth sexy startups like the larger spaces are, but they focus on the mobile workforce that started the coworking movement. They want to provide that intimate community and are adding in extra perks. It’s a new approach and I’m excited to see how it will play out as they expand to Boston with their new round of 2 million dollars.

Stay tuned for future dives into the Small Space at Scale Community and Business Benefits.