A Q&A with Shai Fogel, general manager of Mindspace U.S., on Mindspace’s coworking culture, community, and the trends he’s seeing define the future office.
Upflex’s network is thousands of spaces strong, across dozens of countries. Some of our spaces are independent and some are themselves part of larger networks, run by operators with global presence. Mindspace — with 32 locations on two continents — is one of those larger operators.
We sat down (virtually) with Shai Fogel, San Francisco-based Mindspace U.S. general manager, to learn a little more about Mindspace, workspace trends that will continue to define the future office, and where Shai likes to work.
Upflex: You work in the world of workspace, so you must be always thinking about how everything that’s going on right now is affecting Mindspace’s community… How has the way you work — or the way you think about workspace — changed in the past year and a half?
Shai Fogel: As a person who works in the hospitality industry, I’ve seen first hand what the impact of the pandemic was on the workspace. I do believe that companies now more than ever understand the need for flexibility — and I genuinely believe flex offices offer the best solution. The role of the office has changed and it’s no longer enough to have a desk in an office building. People need more.
I’ve been in the industry for a while now, so my notion of the workspace has been different since before the pandemic, but I’m certainly glad to see it will accelerate everyone else’s perspective of the workspace. In the past, no one expected the building experience to play such a key role in day to day employee life. Now we understand that the building experience is the customer experience.
Upflex: Let’s talk about Mindspace. You were a member of the space five years ago, and you loved it so much, you joined the company. So, what sets it apart from other workspace options?
Fogel: Customer service is key. Mindspace prides itself on having the best customer service in the industry. Whether you are an independent worker or a team of 50-plus, you will receive a personalized service that will make you feel at home, comfortable, and taken care of. In addition, the Mindspace design is the gold standard of commercial office space. Each detail is designed with care and each nook and cranny is filled to the brim with character.
Upflex: Are you seeing any trends among Mindspace clients this year that feel different, notable or new?
Fogel: We see that large enterprises are taking up a flex office space in addition to their existing offices. It allows them to be even more flexible with their teams and their hybrid work schedules. Companies with teams of all sizes have adopted hybrid work models and are looking for office space that fits less employees, so they can work on rotation schedules. And long-standing Mindspace members have begun to rotate with their teams, as well. We also notice that freelance workers are increasingly looking for a space to get out of the house.
Upflex: We’re seeing that too! But you’re on the ground — so, what are you hearing in terms of why it’s so important for people to have workspace options outside their homes right now?
Fogel: Eighteen months into the pandemic, people spent the majority of their days in their rooms, their houses — either alone, or surrounded by the same housemates every day, or noisy kids in the background. The Zoom fatigue and the lack of human interaction have put a strain on a lot of people’s wellbeing and they’re struggling to stay productive. Having a workspace outside of your home is essential in order to have a healthy work-life balance.
Upflex: Is Mindspace working with companies to help companies adapt to geographically distributed teams? If so, in what way?
Fogel: Besides having free access to all 32 of our global locations as a member, companies can also expand geographically and hiring across the border becomes much easier. This is useful today especially, knowing companies are trying to emphasize diversity within their organizations and want to hire remotely as the pandemic proved teams can do just the same work without being in the same office.
Upflex: What kinds of benefits are companies using Mindspace finding when it comes to hiring and retaining talent right now?
Fogel: The same notion of diversity through geo-expansion comes to mind. Members find it extremely beneficial being able to hire someone from a different nation, with a different background without having the distance be an issue.
There’s also the obvious benefits of the amenities included — pilates and yoga lessons, workshops to expand their skill set, networking opportunities and more offering a healthy work-life balance… Employers also realize that one of the ways to attract talent is not only to have an office in a prime location, but also to offer a unique building and an amazing office environment.
Because of all this, employers see office space as a means to an end, a way to create a productive, happy workforce. Our customers are global enterprises, hosting hundreds of their employees.
And, we’re hearing more and more frequently how important it is for these companies to offer the right environment in order to attract and retain talent, and ultimately to be more competitive in their market.
Upflex: And one of the biggest barriers for employees getting to work outside their houses again has been health and safety. I understand Mindspace is doing a lot to tackle that. Can you share some of the measures your spaces have taken?
Fogel: We swiftly adjusted according to CDC and local governmental guidelines and we took it to the next level, with measures like HEPA compliant air filters and cleaning staff dedicated to wiping down high touch surfaces. We worked to keep our spaces safe without compromising on comfort or experience, preserving the standards we’ve always upheld.
Upflex: Do you have a favorite Mindspace location? If so, what sets it apart?
Fogel: That’s a hard question, because I do believe all of our locations are great and each one is unique in its own way. But if I had to choose, I would probably go for our new Philadelphia location. It’s inside the landmark Wanamaker Building and we preserved many historic elements that existed there since the building opened back in the late 1800s.
You can check it out — and book a desk on demand — on Upflex’s site or in the app.