As the founder and CEO of FUSE Workspace, Mike Daugherty first discovered the concept of coworking when he was briefly working from home running his hospitality company, DPG Partners. Desiring a more efficient office, Mike sought out an office solution that would allow him to be in community with other like-minded individuals.
After realizing the value of coworking spaces, Mike developed a ground-up 40,000 sq. ft. office building and founded FUSE Workspace in 2018 to benefit his local community in Prosper, Texas. Now, the brand has evolved to include three Texas flex office locations in Austin, Houston, and Prosper, totaling 95,000 sq. ft.
Learn more about the evolution of FUSE and what sets the coworking company apart from other private operators in Texas in our latest interview.
What is your involvement at FUSE Workspace and when was it founded?
My hospitality company develops, owns and operates various hotel properties throughout Texas and in 2016 we began developing our cowork brand, FUSE Workspace, to diversify our business.
The brand FUSE is now led by our Brand Manager, John Herring, who has been with us for the past two years. Together John and I work daily to turn our members and guests into fans as well as looking for new opportunities.
What has been the mission of FUSE since the beginning?
“Do More” for us at FUSE is more than our motto, it’s our passion. FUSE exists to help people do more not only in their vocation, but also do more in their community and more in the world.
Our customers are successful and we want to help them be more successful in whatever their endeavors are. While that is important, we want to help our members do more by helping others and giving back locally and globally.
We like to look for areas for our team and our members to give back, and we think that is what makes the FUSE community special and gives us the opportunity to have an impact beyond our work lives.
To make our mission a reality, we partnered with a local group called Grace Bridge that feeds the suburban poor and provides much needed support in our local cities. Through Grace Bridge, our members get to participate in service projects throughout the year.
Also, each of our three FUSE locations partners with Grace Bridge’s sister organization called The Master Cares to build wells and provide much needed clean drinking water in Uganda. One of our favorite activities is each FUSE location has partnered with The Master Cares to sponsor a child in Uganda, which covers the costs for tuition and room and board as well as three meals a day for each student until they graduate from the school in Uganda.
Our FUSE community loves seeing lives blessed locally and globally, and this is our true mission.
In your experience, how has the market for coworking in the U.S. evolved over the past couple of years?
When we first got into the business, we did not realize we would be working with larger enterprise users to the extent that we see now. Also, in two of our markets which are in the suburbs, we were the first cowork operator in the market and two years ago we spent a lot more time explaining flex workspace and coworking than we do today. The market has matured, which we believe benefits us all long term.
What emerging trends have you witnessed this year?
Obviously dealing with COVID-19 in 2020, we all saw the dramatic acceleration of a distributed workforce for enterprise users. This macro trend in how people work puts cowork operators in the sweet spot of the overall workplace industry.
I believe 2020 was a year of reflection for many of us. Of course, we are all worried about safety and we have a responsibility to protect our teams and our members, which is a top of mind concern to us all. But in addition to safety, I believe more than ever our members are seeking community and greater quality of life and our workspaces can contribute to this every day.
What are three key ingredients for operating a successful coworking space in a post-Covid work environment?
1) Hospitality — We are in a service business and we are called to serve our members.
2) Building a community — More than ever before, members are seeking community and want to be part of something bigger.
3) Flexibility — This is a major point of difference for our industry and we have to capitalize on it in a way that legacy office options cannot.
How have you pivoted your operations in 2020 in an effort to navigate the consequences of COVID-19?
We increased cleaning, social distancing restrictions, and communications with our members. We developed virtual floor plans to share with potential members, which helped us answer questions and provide service.
We also provide a variety of flexible spaces for larger teams to spread out in private offices, which makes it possible for colleagues to access more private spaces and allow for social distancing.
Do you have any advice for someone wanting to open a coworking space in the current market?
1) Make sure you are filling a true need or something lacking in the marketplace.
2) Build a community of fans, not customers.
3) Control your costs and make sure you’re spending money on what’s important to members.