“More than a Coworking Space…”?!?!

WARNING: Using this phrase can seriously undermine your appeal to coworkers and cause a lack of brand differentiation.
Ryan Chatterton
March 22, 2019
6 min read
Coworking Essentials

Does your coworking space offer “more than a desk?” Perhaps you describe yourself as “more than a coworking space.” If so, you’re making a huge mistake. If you use these phrases on your website or other materials, you're exactly like almost every other space, and it's undermining the brand you’re trying to create.

In a recent piece by Ruth Reader, published on FastCo, Reader describes the hilarity with which so many coworking brands make the same claim: that they are more than a coworking space, complete with examples! Ruth's point is that with all this more-ness, a prospective member might, in truth, only want a coworking space, a desk, a place to work.  

And it’s true.

I’ve argued this point before: coworking is about work. No, not the dull corporate slavery we all hate. It's about getting important and meaningful things done and maintaining a semblance of sanity by being around other people. It's not about happy hours, parties or all the gimmicks that people use to create so-called "community." It's merely about working alongside other humans; generally humans you like.

That being said, you may very well provide a lot of things in your space that aren’t coworking. You may well have parties, workshops, studio space, a gym, organic and vegan smoothies, and a meditation room. If you do, that’s fantastic. I’m sure your members will love those extra perks.

But please, you must stop calling yourself “more than coworking.” In a world where everybody is doing it, the phrase is meaningless. So it’s time to throw this line in the dustbin.

However, if we plan to abandon this phrase, we must have alternatives, of which there are two. And each way forward corresponds to the type of space you are. Are you a space that is actually more than a coworking space, or are you merely a pretender.

The Pretenders

Some spaces that use this all-too-common line actually are not more than a coworking space. Over the last decade, the standard for what people expect from a typical coworking space has grown considerably, so many of the amenities offered by so-called-more-than spaces are, in reality, par for the course.  

These days, if you offer any of the following, you are (in my book at least) just a coworking space, which is 100% okay by the way.

  • Community
  • Free coffee, tea, or snacks
  • General events for small business, freelancers, or startups
  • A shared printer
  • Fast wifi
  • Meeting rooms, workshop rooms, event space
  • Comfortable furniture
  • A meditation room, nap room, or chill room
  • The occasional, or even regular, yoga session
  • A 3D printer (which nobody uses)
Be Happy With Who You Are

The solution for you, if you are one of these spaces, is to stop saying you're more than a coworking space. Stop saying you offer more than a desk. While the latter may be true, every space provides more than a desk. It's not unique at all.

Instead of overstating things, be happy with who you are. You've built something significant and meaningful. You're providing a fantastic service for your members. You should be excited about that.

But if you still want to spice up your marketing and let prospects know you have some less common and less apparent amenities on, perhaps from the list above, follow the adage, "show, don't tell." Stop trying to convince people that you're more than you are with words alone. Instead, show them that your coworking space has things which the competition doesn't. Convince prospects that you're top notch with incredible photos, member interviews, videos, etc. But don't say you're more than a coworking space because you're not.

Think about it like this: is a MacBook Pro more than a computer? No. It's just a different kind of computer. It's a preference thing. And so the stuff that's going to make somebody choose your space over another is you showing them exactly who you are, not trying to convince them you're somehow more than regular spaces.

In fact, a fun way to make light of the situation would be to rebrand all of your materials to say, “We are JUST a coworking space. If you’re looking for more, we apologize profusely. We’re happy with who we are.” The members you’ll attract from this tactic will appreciate your refreshing honesty and likely have a great sense of humor. That has to make for a great workspace community, right?

Spaces That Really Are More Than...

Even if you are “more than a coworking space,” the phrase itself is a misnomer. By definition, if you’re more than a coworking space, then you’re not a coworking space at all! You’re something different. That is one reason I think we need better coworking space types and designations going forward.

Imagine the person that lands on your home page and actually wants to know what you're about. They've been on several coworking websites already, all of which make the same claim to more-ness. So naturally, they assume you're just like the other ones they saw.

The real trouble is, if you are more than a coworking space, you’ve branded yourself along with these other lazy marketers. You’re now one among the crowd.

It’s About Getting Niche

The solution for spaces that are more is to skip directly to the bit where you tell us precisely what you do. If you're really more than a coworking space, this should be a straightforward transition. It's easy because if you are more, it's likely because you're niche.

For example, if you’re a coworking space that also offers childcare services, it makes way more sense to call yourself a Family-friendly Flexible Workspace or a Childcare Coworking Space.

Perhaps you offer a shared kitchen where food entrepreneurs and chefs can prepare, cook, and experiment. In that case, say “we are a shared food lab in the heart of CITY NAME.”

A coworking space with 3D printers, CNC machines, and the like (ones which people actually use) is a fab lab or makerspace.

When in doubt, use this formula:


Space types include:

  • Coworking space
  • Flexible workspace
  • Shared office
  • Makerspace
  • Event hall
  • Hub
  • Community center

Audience names could be:

  • Social Entrepreneurs
  • Filmmakers
  • Audiophiles
  • Musicians
  • Culinary Entrepreneurs
  • Parents
  • People with curly hair
  • Coffee connoisseurs
  • Hipsters
  • Textile designers
  • Youth
  • Blockchain developers
  • Journalists

And of course the list goes on and on and on and on.

"More than x" is lazy branding and marketing. When you brand this way, you fall into mediocrity. What's more, it's confusing because by using that line you're leaving out the part that explains what you are.

If you are just a coworking space, be proud of it. Being a coworking space is grand.

But if you are doing something unique, something you might be tempted to call "more," get to the point, so your audience knows what to expect.

Doing it this way tells your audience precisely the type of person they should be to join your community and sets you apart from the crowd.

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Ryan Chatterton

Marketing Director, founder at Coworking Insights, coworking maven, digital nomad, lover of wine & tacos.

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