Most people who rent coworking spaces are entrepreneurs, small-business owners, and freelancers—in other words, they’re people who weren’t satisfied with the status quo of traditional employment. If your space feels like the status quo, traditional office, you might not be appealing to your client base. After all, they didn’t escape the 9:00-5:00 office life just to go back to sitting in a space with industrial-gray walls.
Also remember that you’re marketing to a lot of people who could be working from home. Sure, coworking spaces offer a lot that a home office doesn’t: a community of fellow entrepreneurs, the credibility of a business address, a place to meet clients, etc. But working from home is free, and renting a space from you isn’t. If your clients don’t enjoy being in your shared office space, the benefits of a conference room and a desk might not be worth the cost. You aren’t just competing with other shared office spaces; you’re also competing with the very cozy, very free space of their home.
When your coworking space has character, you’re showing potential clients that you’re like them: you’ve poured your heart and soul into your business, just like they do. You’re the kind of person they want to do business with, and your space is the kind of place they love coming to everyday. You want it to be professional enough to foster productivity but comfortable and unique enough to feel a bit homey.
So how do you decide on the “character” you want your coworking space to have? For us, the answer was simple. We knew that the slides, arcades, and futuristic furniture that characterize some office spaces in Silicon Valley would feel gimmicky and out-of-place here in Houston. Instead, we wanted The Ranch to feel quintessentially Texas. We’ve tailored our entire atmosphere to our Texas roots. It differentiates us from our competitors, and it makes The Ranch a space where people actually want to work.
Even though Houston is the fourth-largest city in the U.S., people here still embrace the rustic Texas image. The Houston Rodeo is packed every year; the city is covered is Tex-Mex and barbeque restaurants; and Southern hospitality is a core value.
The rustic theme of our décor reflects this part of the Houston spirit, but we wanted to do even more to make The Ranch feel like a truly Texas-inspired coworking community. Our events, our layout, our partnerships, and even our name all keep the Houston community in mind. We hold Monday night BBQs that allow our clients to network with each other. We support other Houston business by keeping local microbrews on tap. And we made it a priority to have a porch and outdoor area so that our clients can enjoy a true “ranch” space in the middle of the city.
From our décor to our networking events, we’ve built a rustic, Texas vibe into every piece of our space and business. Suffice it to say, The Ranch doesn’t feel like your typical office. And your coworking space shouldn’t either.
Instead of making your shared office a cheap imitation of what makes someone else’s office unique, ask yourself what is inspiring and worthwhile in your own city. Does it have a huge art scene? A rich history? What do the people in your city love? What makes them proud to live there? And finally, how can you incorporate that into your coworking office?
Tailoring your space to the character of your community will do more than give you a cool decorative theme. It sets you apart from your competitors. It helps your clients enjoy coming to work. And, perhaps most importantly, it says that you love the place your clients have chosen to call home.