Philadelphia coworking spaces face uneven road to recovery
As hybrid work becomes more common, there's been increased excitement about the potential rise of coworking spaces.
- But that hasn't exactly played out in Philadelphia so far.
State of play: Although more commercial names like WeWork tout big gains in customers and bookings, smaller coworking spaces in Philly aren't saying the same.
- Kismet Cowork, with locations in Manayunk and Chestnut Hill, has about half the number of members compared to its pre-pandemic years.
- Pipeline Philly in Center City reports about 60% of the memberships it had in 2019.
Flashback: Like most other industries, the coworking community took a hit during the pandemic. 76 Forward closed its flagship Rittenhouse location earlier this year, after WeWork closed one of its spots at 1430 Walnut St. in Sept. 2020.
- Kismet was forced to close a third location last December because of the pandemic.
- And Indy Hall moved entirely remote last summer.
Yes, but: Recovery is happening. Pipeline Philly's founder, Tayyib Smith, told Axios he's seen more tours and inquiries this month compared to the rest of the year.
- Kismet ramped up their podcast network and studio, Radio Kismet, to spark more engagement and support members' businesses.
Meanwhile, WeWork reported a $802 million net loss in its first earnings since going public in October. It's an improvement compared to the $941 million loss this time last year.
- During the pandemic, the company launched two new programs to accommodate clients' desire for more flexibility, and its bookings are growing.
- Bookings for the OnDemand program in Philly rose by an average rate of 43% month over month from December 2020 to October 2021.
- Its All Access program saw a 600% increase in users in Philly in October compared to January.
What they're saying: "We're surviving, we're not thriving," Smith said of Pipeline Philly.
- He's worried about the oversaturation of the market and an uneven playing field for small businesses.
Kismet owner Christopher Plant remains optimistic.
- "There are people who come to us with no intention of going back to a regular office anymore and find they benefit from having a place outside of their home to get work done," Plant said.
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