Portland is already the ninth-largest market in the U.S. for coworking space, and that was before WeWork signed a lease for 30,000 more square feet on the top floor of Pioneer Place in January. The new WeWorks space in Portland joins their other coworking space in the former customs house in Old Town, as well as coworking facilities offered by CENTRL Office, Collective Agency, TENPod, and probably others too.
For those of you trapped in your cubicles or a traditional office with four walls and a door (maybe a window if you're lucky), coworking is a style of shared workplace for members that provides typical office amenities like conference rooms, printing and copying, and coffee. Membership levels provide varying levels of use rights, from shared use of a common work area to reserved desks and traditional offices. Coworking is popular with young entrepreneurs, freelancers and those who travel often. Many coworkers particularly value the collaborative atmosphere and, for members of the larger coworking services, the right to use workspaces around the world.
At first blush, coworking may seem only like a place for millennials to go when Starbucks no longer serves their workplace needs. However, it's not just cutting edge hipsters who enjoy the trend. Coworking also represents an evolution away from traditional office layouts with the most senior people in the largest offices with the best views, middle management in smaller offices and administrative staff in cubicles. For several years, many Class A office users have trended toward open work areas, collaborative spaces and uniform office sizes. Even stodgy law firms are in on it; our offices at Tonkon Torp (which is not stodgy at all) have abandoned cubicles and added collaborative spaces. We also regularly staff an office at CENTRL's Pearl District workspace, which offers a great venue for meeting clients and networking.
Coworking may represent less than 1% of leased office space nationally, but it is definitely a market segment on the rise. The combination of cost efficiency, flexibility, personal contact, collaboration and a variety of snazzy locations makes it an attractive workplace option for more and more people. If you're interested in checking it out, come to a Tonkon Talk sometime at CENTRL, which are held the first Wednesday every month from noon to 1:00 p.m.