The second floor suite at the northern edge of the Dupont Circle neighborhood is compact, but cozy. There are several work tables and chairs setup in the center, and a glass partition blocks off a small six seat conference room at the rear, and an open and bright space at the front of the suite with a bar like you might find at a coffeeshop. There are a few people buzzing around, but it’s just 8am. The track lighting is elegant without being jarring, and the space looks cozy. This is Cove, and they’re about to upset the city’s co-working apple cart.
If you’ve looked at co-working in the District, places like U Street’s Affinity Lab or Anacostia’s The DC Hive come to mind. They are full-service operations for teams and solo practitioners who need offices, and unfortunately their full-service nature comes with a hefty price tag. DC Hive starts at $100/mo, with private offices at $1200/mo, while Affinity Lab’s base offering is $325/mo. While both are fine spaces to work, with quality staff and amenities, when it came time for me to consider an office that wasn’t a coffeeshop, the cost of these spaces pushed me back.
When I first read about Cove’s model, I thought it might be too good to be true. A part-time space at a common work environment (thought to be co-working’s strong social benefit) starts at $24 per month? For serious? Is it a condemned building? With no WiFi? And coffee that was last roast during the first Marion Barry Administration?
Not hardly. Cove’s Adam Segal is quick to greet you as your arrive at the space, help you to sign into their clever office management system (every user gets a QR code that’s unique to them. Pull it up on your phone, scan it at their door tablet, then claim your space!), point you toward their coffee bar and refrigerator for soda and water, and help you get a good spot to work. Their WiFi is backed up against Comcast’s business network downtown, and they’ve got a backup DSL in case of emergency, and the conference room is well appointed with a large flat-screen for presentations.
Cove’s plan is based around the folks who don’t need a full-time office, but do need a good space to work with solid connectivity and easy access. Plans start at 8 hours per month for the occasional user ($24/mo, with some rollover of hours), and go up to 50 hours per month for the dedicated user, topping out at $124/mo. Additional hours are available to those who go over at the rate associated with your plan, which would put “full-time” residency at or near Affinity’s lowest plan rates.
In addition to their Dupont location, the group is rolling out a new location in Logan Circle at 1624 14th St NW starting the middle of this month, and from conversations with Cove staffers, they have grander plans to spread out throughout the rest of the city. Look for an interview with co-founder Adam Segal in our next podcast episode, due around the time they open their second location.