When Conjunctured opened its doors in East Austin in 2008, it set a precedent for what a coworking space could be. It wasn’t about lavish amenities or extravagant designs; it was about the essence of the space, the energy it radiated, and the community it fostered. This ethos stands in stark contrast to the modern trend of amenity-laden offices, exemplified by companies like Expensify, which have struggled to draw employees back despite their luxurious offerings.
The Misconception of Amenities
The corporate world often equates amenities with attraction. The logic is simple: build a fancy office with all the perks, and employees will flock. However, Conjunctured’s success story tells a different tale. It wasn’t the amenities that drew people; it was the vibrant community, the dynamic interactions, and the authentic atmosphere. This is a lesson that even the most well-intentioned office designers and managers often miss.
As David Barrett, CEO of Expensify, expressed in a Fortune article, “We’re fighting a losing war to get people back into the office.” Despite creating an office that’s “more like a luxury resort,” the allure of amenities wasn’t enough to change employee preferences.
People, Energy, Essence
Conjunctured thrived because it understood that the true draw of a workspace is its people, the energy they bring, and the essence of what happens within its walls. It was a place where ideas flowed freely, where collaboration was organic, and where the community was the main attraction. This is in stark contrast to the underutilized, albeit luxurious, Expensify Lounge, which, despite its appeal, couldn’t replicate the authentic energy of a space like Conjunctured.
In the words of Barrett, as mentioned in Expensify’s blog, “The office isn’t about the space — it’s about the people in the space.” This sentiment echoes the essence of what made Conjunctured special.
Facilitating Meaningful Interactions
What Conjunctured excelled at was facilitating meaningful interactions and experiences. It wasn’t just a place to work; it was a place to grow, learn, and connect. This is what modern workspaces often miss in their pursuit of providing the best amenities. It’s not just about having a fancy coffee machine or a state-of-the-art gym; it’s about what happens when people come together, the conversations that are sparked, and the collaborations that are born.
The Draw of Authenticity
In a world where workers are increasingly seeking authenticity and meaning in their work, spaces like Conjunctured stand out. They remind us that the essence of a great workspace lies not in its physical offerings but in its ability to foster a sense of belonging, to ignite passion, and to facilitate genuine connections.
As we reflect on the legacy of Conjunctured and the challenges faced by modern workspaces, it becomes clear that the secret to a compelling workspace isn’t found in amenities. It’s found in the people, the energy, and the essence of what the space helps facilitate. It’s a lesson that Conjunctured understood well over a decade ago and one that remains relevant as we navigate the evolving landscape of work culture.