Frequently Asked Questions
1. What exactly is Serendipity Labs and who is it for?
Today almost 30% of what are termed “knowledge workers” have flexibility in how they work. This means that they’re not tied to a 9-5, “drive to a desk” work arrangement. That number, by 2020 is expected to be 50% of the US knowledge workforce. Serendipity Labs is a members only walk-in workplace. So what does that mean? Think of a place you could design yourself that is an inspiring, productive place to get to work, that is close to home, perhaps avoids a commute, but is not work at home. We’ve designed space for how people want to work today, which is mobile, transient, but very connected. The most talented workers really can choose where they want to work.
2. What is unique about Serendipity Labs and how does it meet the specific needs of today’s workforce?
For the entire last century people worked pretty much the same way. It was a “Mad Men” approach to work. Based on your seniority in the business, your importance as an executive, you would have your own private space, access to a receptionist, a desk, a phone, and a file cabinet and that’s really how people worked because they really weren’t connected the way we’re connected today. What has happened over the last 5-10 years is knowledge workers and the most trusted professionals have been liberated to be able to choose where they want to work. What we have done is we’ve taken what is known as the executive suite or business center model of office space, meaning office space as you need it, (with month-to-month rent) and actually turned it into a club. It’s a members only workplace that really reflects how people work in different ways depending on what they’re doing on any given day, who they’re meeting with and how they want to represent themselves and their business. We’ve taken real estate and consumerized it, so that anyone can become a member upon application. They can get the kind of membership that meets the way that they work.
3. A range of workplace solutions have emerged over the past decade or so for individual professionals, freelancers, and start-up or small businesses. Should Serendipity Labs be considered part of that set?
One significant component of our membership base and our target are those people that need an additional place to work, that are working from home and are a smaller business. However, we also have large, multinational companies, who have their key employees that don’t necessarily need to go into the office every day. Wouldn’t it be great to work close to home in a corporate service level standard and really transform your work life? It really becomes a perk and a way to attract senior level executives from the world’s largest companies. We built a system to support professionals in a way that they are used to being supported when they work at a large company.
4. Why have recent changes in the way people work resulted in both opportunities and challenges for the corporate world?
One of the great motivators for changing the way people work is the fact that technology has enabled people to remain connected, always on and available. Also, economic changes where the largest US companies are looking continually to reduce cost to remain competitive, and one of the ways they’re doing that is by reducing their real estate obligations. The rule of thumb for large companies changing their headquarter space is to reduce it by 30% on a redesign. That’s because it’s not hallways and labyrinths full of individual offices and water coolers. It’s a new way of working where they’re trying to attract the brightest to come and collaborate, not go in and close the door behind them in an individual office. So you have this need for a huge reduction in the need for commercial office space the way it has been built for the last century and at the same time you have the best and brightest knowledge workers having a great case for “Why do I need to get on the train everyday?”
5. What relationship does Serendipity Labs have to the recent trend in coworking environments?
I think it’s good to cast that in the context of where coworking has come from, which is really from the business center and executive suite industry in which companies are set up to lease individual offices to a variety of different business on the same floor with a shared receptionist and shared phone system. That was the way that the business center industry grew. It’s about a 4 or 5 billion-dollar industry around the world. That’s not small. When they work in that arrangement, they are working around other companies, bumping into them in the watercooler or at the coffee station. However, you’re really kind of working alone together. Walking in the same door but not really interacting too much. In the last 5 or so years, there has been a movement called coworking that has really sprung forth from a collectivist, techie style or approach to work which is highly collaborative, with limited concerns for quality and security of the work environment itself and without too much concern over protection of confidential information or even having your employees taken by the competitor. That particular form of coworking does have some attractive community elements. What we’re trying to do is really get the best of both worlds. The corporate service level standard that can be found in the world’s best business centers with security, access control, confidentiality, professionalism, and the opportunity, to the extent that people are interested, to interact with other like-minded peers. “Where do you associate?” “What’s your club?” It used to be “What kind of car are you driving?” Now it’s how you roll as a professional.
6. What’s the difference between Serendipity Labs and leasing office space or renting a desk in a coworking space?
We don’t really see ourselves as a real estate business. We don’t have tenants, and there are no rents and the members are our guests and we treat them accordingly. We’re not throwing up Wi-Fi and putting up a coffee pot, which is what most coworking tends to air on the side of. We’re really providing an enterprise standard platform that can be replicated and served. Your membership card allows you in the building, depending on your credentials, and it also provides our staff with what your preferences are. Much like if you checked into a 4-star hotel, they would know something about you and treat you accordingly. Really it’s a hospitality business, second it’s a corporate service level standard, and third we’re in the midst of building a network of locations that have a common service level standard so that when people go, they know what to expect. So branding, hospitality, corporate service level, are really our major differentiators from anything else that’s out there.