CEO Grant Barnhill recently spoke with the hosts of Flex Uncensored podcast about how Hospitality drives success for Shift Workspaces
In a post-COVID world where employees are transitioning to home offices and businesses are downsizing their office space, how does a coworking office company like Shift Workspaces maintain such a high level of “stickiness” among its members? In short, it’s through simple principles such as “serving others”, “mutuality”, and “hospitality”.
Unlike other shared workspace facilities, Shift strives to promote a sense of well-being for its members and is designed in such a manner to promote workplace happiness. The facilities opt for views over walls, light over dark, and high-end amenities and furniture over usual stale office decor. Perhaps the perk that keeps members coming back is the concierge-type services Shift offers, which are comparable to those you’d find at your favorite hotel or resort. Shift’s staff provides intuitive customer service that tends to your specific preferences both personal and professional. All to help infuse an element of comfort and productivity into the workday.
Barnhill says Shift targets the more serious working crowd as opposed to the Ping-Pong playing crowd, but there is a large social element involved at each of the three Denver-area locations. For instance, Shift brings the working community together once a day, usually around food and beverage – often garnering big crowds. The workspaces also offer complementary bar service with top shelf liquor, fine wines, and specialty beers for its members. When people ask Barnhill how Shift can afford to provide food, alcohol, and other perks daily, he says it’s “Part of our whole value proposition.”
Podcast co-host Jamie Russo said when she recently visited a Shift s center she was intrigued by hospitable approach because nobody in the industry does anything like it. “Why would anyone ever leave?” she pondered. “That’s the whole point,” Barnhill said “We want to make it sticky. We want to make it so people can’t imagine being anywhere else.”
Barnhill began his professional career as a Denver real estate broker in the mid-1980s and started buying apartment properties in the mid-90s, becoming an adaptive re-use apartment redeveloper in the neighborhoods around downtown for about 25 years. He bought a property in 2010 to be used as an office for his property management company. But his company only needed 3,000 square feet and he wanted to figure out a way to rent out 7,000 square feet of unneeded space. That’s when Shift Workspaces was born, and the building ultimately became the very first Shift location. The initial look and feel of the workspace mimicked some design elements of a WeWork shared office but evolved into much more of a boutique hotel-like concept geared towards a different demographic.
Barnhill’s hands are involved in every aspect of the business, including the finite details of the facilities’ design and décor. He said he picks every light fixture, piece of furniture, and even wallpaper. “It’s my favorite part of what I do.” He first gained an interest in art in 1998 at Burning Man, the annual week-long community and global cultural movement in Black Rock Desert, Nevada dedicated to anti-consumerism and self-expression. He is still enamored with the complexity and size of Burning Man art and someday wants to integrate some of that artwork into his campuses. He laughingly added that if any investors were listening to the podcast, to please give him a call.
Podcast co-host Giovanni Palavacini calls Barnhill and Shift Workspaces the “Best boutique operator in the country – everything from the product and how much goes into choosing every single bit of the design.”
He asked Barnhill what’s next for the business.
“I think our industry is really evolving,” Barnhill said. “We’re really embracing the concept of making Shift more of a social club, amenitizing it even further.”
He pointed out Shift locations have outdoor workspace, gym facilities, yoga studios, meditation rooms, areas for massage. “That’s the future. Shifts of the future will look more like a cross between Battery in San Francisco, maybe our Littleton location, and maybe Equinox – a high-end athletic club. That seems to be our direction.”
He also declared his next goal is to add swimming pools to his facilities.
Shift’s knack for hospitality has allowed and enabled them to advance into the special events space. The Littleton location is already hosting weddings, birthday parties, and other events, much like a hotel or resort would. While office services account for about 80% of the business’s gross revenue, meetings and events now ranks second on the list and has become a solid revenue stream.
Shift offers several membership options:
Private Office: Move-in ready private offices with ergonomic furniture and ultra-fast internet. Offices can be customized for teams of any size and are furnished with sit-stand desks, ergonomic chairs, and filing cabinets and other luxury amenities.
Dedicated Desk: Individual space with access to Shift service and amenities designed to optimize your workday.
Coworking: Unlimited access to open workspace in an open, collaborative environment, with access to Shift service and amenities.
Virtual Office: An option designed to give you the benefits of a full-time workspace while allowing your business to stay lean and nimble.
Meeting Room: Fully equipped meeting and training rooms with state-of-the-art technology and support staff for any size meeting or event.
Shift has three convenient Denver-area locations:
383 N. Corona St.
Denver, CO 80218
1001 Bannock St.
Denver, CO 80204
2679 W. Main
Littleton, CO 80120
To listen to the full podcast from August 23, 2022, search “Flex Uncensored” on your favorite podcast platform or listen at the link below.