Among the corporate giants in the Legacy business area, a new type of commercial leasing is finding its footing in Plano, offering collaborative coworking spaces to small- and medium-sized businesses and teams.
Since 2016, six prominent coworking spaces have opened within a 1.5-mile radius in the northwest corridor of Plano. Those spaces lease a combined 223,000 square feet, which is just shy of the square footage of FedEx Office’s headquarters, which is located nearby on Legacy Drive.
Plano Chamber of Commerce CEO Jamee Jolly said new businesses stand to benefit from the perks of these coworking offices, including flexible leasing terms and built-in Wi-Fi, as they get to focus on what matters most: running their respective companies.
“To have that kind of flexibility, and you don’t have to sign a long-term lease, and you don’t have to worry about setting up phone service and internet service and all the different other parts of managing a space—you truly can just focus on your business,” Jolly said. “So it allows for someone to really go in and plug in and go to work versus renting an office and having to establish that space.”
Some of the coworking companies to set up shop in Plano include WeWork, Common Desk and Yeager Office Suites.
And with flexible leasing terms, beer on tap or the chance to work alongside other entrepreneurially minded individuals, Jolly said she suspects coworking spaces are not just a trend, but are here to stay.
Opening shop in Plano
Common Desk’s expansion into Plano seemed at first like a far cry from its Dallas offices in places like the trendy Deep Ellum neighborhood or the Bishop Arts District.
“Moving to the suburbs was kind of a big, scary thing for us, because our other two locations at the time were in [a]more artsy district of Dallas, and they were closer to downtown,” said Trent Oswalt, the community manager of Common Desk in Granite Park. “Three years ago, coworking was just a thing a bunch of millennials were doing, and they were sharing cars to get there, and now you are seeing legit businesses come.”
Some of those businesses at Common Desk include Walmart Technology and the Seattle-based Redfin, a residential real estate website.
The opening of similar coworking spaces could be credited in part to the business opportunities their members are finding with the neighboring corporations, said Katherine Sartore, the building manager of Yeager Properties’ Plano location.
“The ideas are that these companies are coming, and they have a product or a skillset that they feel like that they can tap into these bigger corporations, where the corporations may not have it in-house,” Sartore said. “[The corporations] want to be the ones providing that service.”
Oswalt said he also houses businesses who want to office in or near Dallas but may not have the staffing or resources available to sign a long-term leasing agreement, such as Walmart Technology or Redfin. While still housed under the same roof, those companies with larger teams will often lease out of full office suites that are available at many of the coworking spaces.
“Those companies are coming here because they just need flexible lease terms,” Oswalt said. “They are building a team, and they are not really ready to sign a seven- to 10-year lease, and so they can come in here and have flexible lease terms where the pricing is just as competitive.”
But not all members of these coworking spaces hail from established companies.
Community between members
Jeremy Gaston had tried his luck in signing leases with other office spaces, as well as occasionally working from home, but found he was missing out on the type of community he wanted for his small business.
“I don’t mind working from the house—I can get stuff done,” Gaston said. “But there is an immediate difference … when I go to the office and I’m visible and I’m available.”
Gaston is the sole full-time employee of Uballn, the company he created with two other cofounders. Uballn is an app-based platform that matches athletes of similar skill levels to start pickup basketball games. And having just begun beta testing for his company, Gaston said it has been reassuring being a part of a community that will keep him accountable in his work.
“I have the joy of being around people who are familiar with my journey and also have that fire knowing that they are going to put a foot in the back of my pants if I start slacking,” Gaston said.
Members are often able to form those relationships with other members in community events like happy hours and professional development sessions. The long list of amenities, in addition to the networking opportunities, is something Oswalt and Sartore said help with both member retention and recruitment for new employees to the larger teams.
And the synergy between members gets to the heart of what coworking is about, Oswalt said.
“Those people are using the same kitchen, and they are getting coffee together,” Oswalt said. “That’s kind of one of the more beautiful things about coworking is that you have people that are all across the board with their businesses.”