Presented By: Industry Insights
[Video] Backstage Pass: Flexible Workspace Providers, Featuring Breather
A Tour of the Most Popular Flexible Workspace Space Providers, January 22 Edition
Over the last two years, flexible workspace has accounted for nearly 30 percent of new space leased in the U.S. From startups to Fortune 500 companies, occupiers of all sizes are drawn to shared and short-term office spaces for their flexible concepts, amenities and sense of community. But the options can be dizzying. Today, there are an estimated 7,600 flexible space operators worldwide.
Commercial Observer’s Industry Insights Team is going behind the scenes to review flexible office space providers, covering everything a successful CRE player needs to know.
This week, we are featuring Breather. Founded in 2013 by Julien Smith and Caterina Rizzi, Breather partners with both landlords and brokers alike to bring a more thoughtful, data-driven approach to flexible office. Breather is located in 10 markets across the world with over 500 ready-to-go spaces. Companies like Accenture, Netflix, PwC, Spotify and Uber have all taken advantage of Breather’s flexible workspace solutions, with reservation terms from hours to a month or more. Built with technology at its core, Breather boasts unprecedented ease of booking, getting clients into spaces in less than 48 hours.
- Company: Breather
- Year founded: 2013
- Founder: Julien Smith (CEO & Co-Founder); Caterina Rizzi (Co-Founder)
- Number of locations: 500
- Cities located: New York, San Francisco, London, Toronto, Los Angeles, Montreal, Boston, Chicago, Washington, DC
- Total funding to date: $122.5M
- Average tenant size: Between 2 and 80
- Total number of tenants: 500,000 individuals from more than 16,000 companies
Commercial Observer Industry Insights: How do you think shared/short-term office space is changing the commercial real estate industry?
Breather: Over the course of the next few years, we’ll continue to see the evolution of urban office space, scaling up or down to meet the needs of a physical team the same way cloud infrastructure is now used. We are quickly marching toward a world where fixed, static office spaces — whether traditional or coworking — are viewed with the same irreverent nostalgia as in-house data servers. That being said, Breather is committed to working with the real estate community as a trusted partner, not against it. More than 200 landlords have welcomed Breather into their office portfolios as a tech-powered amenity for their tenants. And we continue to do countless numbers of deals with brokers who are looking for a quick, but highly reliable solution for their growing tenants.
What do you see as your competitive advantage against other flexible office space providers?
Breather: From day one, Breather has been focused on providing private space for humans to produce their best work. While others optimize for density, cost-cutting, or social interaction, we optimize for productivity and long-term wellbeing.
We serve tens of thousands of corporate clients, but at our core we are a consumer brand, focused on the needs and aspirations of 500,000 individual users. We don’t provide an “office”; we provide an “Infinite Workspace” that allows teams and individuals to walk in and out of a variety of spaces that were designed specifically for whatever task they are busy with that day — focused work, group brainstorm, client presentation, sales training, or a regular team meeting. Clients can walk into a Breather around the corner for hours, or book one for several months or longer when they expand to a new city or when it’s time to grow their existing office.
On a functional level, Breather is the only company in the world that allows you to book a private workspace for as little as hours, a day, or a month and and walk into it 30 seconds later. For longer tenancies, our lead time can be as short as 48 hours, well below the average for other operators. And the flexibility of our network allows our tenants to stay for any duration of time, without the 1-year minimum required elsewhere.
What amenities are available to occupiers?
Breather: Our clients are increasingly looking for solutions that allow their teams to make the most of their talents across a variety of spaces and locations and aren’t constricted by leases or coworking quirks. Simply put, Breather is the only space-as-a-service solution to provide such flexibility – whether it be for an hour, a few days, or several months at a time. We stay true to the design aesthetic our clients know and love and only select spaces that are bright, airy, and full of natural light. Of course each space is plug-and-play and comes fully-equipped with high-speed internet, presentation screens, whiteboards, and mobile chargers. Our longer term office spaces include individual workstations, phone booths and meeting rooms, storage space, wet pantries, and lounge areas å– everything our clients expect an office to have to enable their team to do their best work. More importantly, our office clients have access to a network of over 500 spaces, so when they rent a few thousand purpose-built square feet, what they’re actually getting is almost half a million square feet of spaces designed to meet their every workspace need.
What incentives do you provide brokers who fill your spaces?
Breather: We offer brokers 10% commission on all transactions and 4% on renewals. But we’re not looking to compete by inflating our rates here. Most importantly, brokers see us as a partner to the real estate community because we provide them with a hassle-free, flexible office solution on month-to-month terms. If a broker has a client that is not ready for a long-term lease, Breather offers the fastest lead times in the market. Our spaces won’t sit vacant for months at a time. Because of our extensive network, clients can access breather spaces on demand within seconds, or rent flexible term office space in as little as 48 hours from inquiry to move-in.
What are your plans for growth in the next five years?
Breather: In our first 5 years at Breather, we have grown and shaped our business by listening to the needs of our clients, and the next five years will be shaped by an even deeper understanding of our clients’ needs. The Breather team has a number of PHDs in workspace design, productivity and well-being, and they are relentlessly focused on understanding what makes our clients happy and productive in their workspace. We are looking to work with landlords and brokers to bring a more thoughtful, data-driven approach to flexible office. We are not looking to participate in a land grab, especially in current market conditions. Ultimately, Breather is not a collection of square feet, it is a productivity tool that enables our clients to do their best work.
To that end, as we continue to monitor demand, we will of course add new spaces in existing markets while refining and making improvements to existing ones in an effort to serve our clients’ evolving needs. And our recent investments from global real estate players puts us in a prime position for new market expansion in the future. Given that we are a customer-driven technology company at our core, however, our team of engineers have several developments in the pipeline to enhance our workspace experience and make finding, booking and accessing space incredibly seamless.