The roller coaster ride of business centers

20. July 2022

From office service to business center to coworking

….. and back?

There are many different terms for Satellite Office’s business model: office service, shared office, business center, coworking, flexible workspace, shared office, open space, flexible workstations, temporary work. All of these words describe what we do every day at Satellite Office, they describe the basis of our business model. However, none of the words can be found in a dictionary. Which is not because of all the anglicisms! For example, while the terms “business class” or “business plan” can be found, the term “business center,” which refers to an entire industry, is not in the Duden. Does that surprise you? Not me! Because the term is going through the same roller coaster ride as the image of business centers.

We started 25 years ago pretty close to the earth, where the roller coaster just starts. We were the ones offering people a ready-made office in a shared space because they supposedly couldn’t afford their own. It was at this time, in the late nineties, that Satellite Office was founded. At that time already with the idea of sharing office space. Of course, to save costs, but mainly so that customers could do short-term project business in Berlin without long-term leases. We started as an “office service”, we were a franchisee of Ihr Büro for a few months, and it remained quite unclear whether we were selling copy paper or supplying fax machines, least of all did the business world expect ready-made offices and ready-made infrastructure. However, we started out with the goal of providing temporary office space to companies that were involved in major construction projects, especially at Potsdamer Platz. Without long-term commitment, without buying furniture, without a long search. Flexible and simple. This principle has not changed until today.

The business model took off in the following years, was called “Business Center” at some point and it remained rather unclear what happens in such a business center. In addition to many new competitors sprouting up, numerous hotels were also opening a small business center in a dark corner – with a copier, printer and two huge computers for urgent business matters, so back to the office service. Nevertheless, this was the beginning of digitization, data became transportable, and it was possible to work outside of one’s own office. Although very limited, but so were the beginnings! The term business center lasted for more than fifteen years, was quite established – however, it did not go beyond a niche notoriety. Digitization justified the business model more and more and the roller coaster ride became faster and faster, could take any height with the speed!

Around 2009, the loop began: CoWorking Spaces spilled over from the Big Apple to Europe. A real hype broke out about working together with many people in shared office spaces. The layout of the rooms and the interior design changed abruptly: The functional business center office and matching open-plan offices, in which the room palm was sometimes already the highlight, became super-chic, huge office spaces. A desk of one’s own should be enough, one wanted to sit right in the middle of the action. Network, get it all. Build a community. Many young people felt attracted, digitalization was well advanced. But the time was also much riper for sharing office space. What was previously considered a low-cost office for financially weak entrepreneurs was suddenly the measure of all things for business community with the greatest salon capability. In 2017/ 2018, coworking experienced its peak.

Anita Gödiker, now almost 20 years in the business, took a more critical view of community working. Started a course correction for Satellite Office, initially gave the company a clear position as a luxury provider in the very best locations and properties in metropolitan areas. Cleaned up the real estate portfolio first and later the concept and design. Quieter, more structured and with more dedicated space for concentrated work. She never believed that real results could be achieved in the enthusiastic community frenzy. PureSilentÓ was put on the track. But that’s another story!

But many people who were enthusiastically hopping into coworkings before also wanted more quiet time to work. “Workspace” was now the word of the day. Other providers also wanted to set themselves apart from “coworking.” However, the adjective in front of “workspaces” was and still is diverse: agile, flexible, intermediate…

And – believe it or not – we have seen a return to the term business center since 2021! Some of those who are not coworking or workspace are already calling themselves business centers again.

How good that we created our own term for our business model 25 years ago: Satellite Office. It has always been up to date, and we wear it with pride. A satellite office exactly where you need it. Flexible, simple and without long commitments. We are not subject to fashions or trends. We try to anticipate changes in the working world and design our satellite offices accordingly. Incidentally, we have already won two international architecture awards for this in the last six months. Most recently as “Best Workspaces 2022”. Here’s to the next 25 years ….like a Rollercoaster!