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Miami Company Introduces 'Virtual Coworking'

For people skittish about signing full-term office leases, coworking was supposed to be a flexible solution. Now, with an airborne pathogen complicating all aspects of life, people are even skittish about coworking. Enter an even more flexible solution: virtual coworking. 

FORUM's coworking space in Coral Gables, Florida

A number of coworking operators are experimenting with their formats. CommonDesk is offering virtual memberships for $75 to $150 that offer access to Slack channels and virtual happy hours and lunch-and-learn events. WeWork is piloting a program in New York that allows people to book workspaces by the hour or day. It's also allowing members to work out of any location, rather than a fixed location, for no additional cost.

"There is still some uncertainty about long-term office space needs and with the start of remote schooling keeping parents at home, not everyone is ready to commit to a traditional coworking membership," said Rishi Kapoor, CEO of Location Ventures, owner and operator of coworking brand Forum, in Coral Gables, Florida.

Normally at Forum, an open workspace starts at $350/month, a reserved desk starts at $500/month and private office suites start at $800/month.

However, with a virtual membership for $95/month, Forum customers can get access to a member portal that lets them network with other members, use its address, mail receiving and forwarding, and schedule meeting time with the program director, Ibis Valdes. A slightly more expensive "access membership" costs $150/month and includes the perks from the virtual membership, plus an option to work out of the space twice a month, printing services and a 30-minute session with an on-site business coach.

"Our true value is offering business coaching, consulting, admin support and more during this time when entrepreneurs are adapting to what’s next for their company," Kapoor said. "We’re really focused on providing a service more than just a space." 

At least one study suggests coworking operators who can stay afloat through the coronavirus pandemic will be able to recover. According to a June report by ResearchandMarkets.com, globally, the coworking market is expected to decline by 12.9% from $9.27B in 2019 to $8.24B in 2020, then recover and reach $11.52B in 2023.