Here on Pop-Up City we are very interested in different mobile and flexible work concepts. How do new footloose offices operate? How do co-working spaces work? What kinds of new networks and spaces do matter? And, after all, how does this affect the city? We got the chance to speak with Anthony Marinos from Loosecubes, one of the world’s largest workspace sharing communities.
What is Loosecubes?
“Loosecubes is the world’s largest workspace sharing community with almost 1,400 spaces in 312 cities around the globe. Our goal is to connect business owners who have extra desks, couches, conference rooms, easels, etc. with freelancers, entrepreneurs, and business travelers in need of flexible, professional workspace. It’s free to join and to add a space. Once a host creates a profile page for his or her location, it appears in relevant search results and members can make reservation requests through the Loosecubes system. We’ve created a platform to help companies invite talent and fresh ideas into their offices on a daily basis with the hopes of building stronger businesses through these shared work environments. It’s like networking… without the networking.”
What sets Loosecubes apart from similar co-working services like Office Genie, Desk Time, and Deskwanted?
“There are a lot of other websites out there that are only focused on the spaces and the amenities in them. We don’t want to be just another listings website or a glorified Craigslist. We’re really interested in improving the odds of people having serendipitous encounters that lead to meaningful connections. A freelancer lands a new client; a budding entrepreneur finds the developer he’s been looking for; a graphic designer meets her future husband. We’re focused on providing value through the people in the space, not just the space itself. It’s about so much more than just finding a desk. You’ll notice some hints of this on our current site (e.g. member and host profiles, ability to fan a space), but over the next few weeks we’ll be adding a bunch of new features that will really make our mission clear.”
What kind of people join Loosecubes and what are their main reasons to join your service?
“We’ve found that Loosecubes is, in fact, for everyone. Anyone from a work-at-home mom in dire need of some time away from the house, to a small architecture firm looking for space to build tents for an urban camping installation. They’re young and old, quiet and bubbly, analytical and abstract. Loosecubers run the gamut. They tend to be more of the creative persuasion, but all of them join for the same reasons: they need space and want to meet people.”
Prices differ enormously also within a specific city. What is a decent price according to you and what are these prices based on?
“We’ve found that an average daily rate for a desk is between $15 and $25 USD. Hosts tend to base their prices on location and amenities available at the space. That said, we encourage our community to try sharing a desk or two for free (e.g. Rickshaw Bags in San Francisco, The BatchHaüs in Providence, our HQ in Brooklyn). Our coworkers tend to pay us back by helping us build a stronger product. They’ve given us feedback that resulted in new features, helped us solve coding problems, and even promoted Loosecubes on their blogs. Their support has been worth way more than $25/day.”
There’s been a lot of enthusiasm about coworking, but how about the exploitation? Is it already a concept that works from a business point of view?
“The co-working community/industry is still in its infancy, so there are currently a lot of variations on the business model. It’s still very much a grassroots movement. Some coworking spaces like NextSpace have expanded to multiple cities and even received funding for future growth. Others are focused on staying small and maintaining their local communities. The concept is still evolving, but it’s pretty clear that shared work environments are the way of the future.”
What will be the most important developments in coworking over the next few years?
“Work is changing, and consequently, the way people accomplish work and are productive is morphing too. As we enter an increasingly internet-connected age, co-working will serve as an incredibly powerful vehicle to allow people to make meaningful professional and personal connections offline. Loosecubes empowers people to turn a company office, a home art studio, or even a commercial kitchen into a co-working space. The idea of coworking shouldn’t just be limited to places that focus solely on it as a business, it should be everywhere. We’ll be doing our part to bring co-working to the masses by trying to get a loosecube on every corner in major cities across the globe.”