Over the last decade, shared co-working spaces have skyrocketed in popularity. Co-working space brands, such as WeWork and Regus, became synonymous with the word ‘Office’. They slowly but surely became part of society’s work life. But with remote work becoming more and more popular, is there any space for them in the future?
hybrid work models, when for example employees spend some time working from home (let’s say 3 days a week), and some time from the office (remaining 2 days), is most likely going to increase in popularity. Employees save time on commuting, have more personal space, and companies save on property costs. However, the office isn’t going anywhere yet.
According to G.Powell, CEO of The Arterial Group, the office is here to stay, at least for now – ‘While remote working offers huge amounts of flexibility and has had productivity benefits for some, innovation and in-person collaboration work hand in hand’1 In other words if you want innovation, you need human collaboration because ideas are rarely born in a vacuum. Besides having a place to interact, some people simply prefer to have their work and life spaces separated. However, the fact that humans crave human interaction and place specifically dedicated to working, doesn’t necessarily mean these things must take place at the company-owned office. Co-working spaces can fulfil these needs too.
An additional positive of working at a co-working space is that you occasionally get to casually interact with people from different companies, start-ups, and areas of work. This can not only expand a person’s knowledge or increase their network but also lead to some interesting collaborations and potential innovative projects. Last, but not least, the positive is that you can rent most of the co-working spaces for a short period of time, which means that you can switch office spaces as often as you like. If your business is digitally integrated, then it shouldn’t be a problem for your clients. And the team may appreciate reasonable constant change (for example new office location every 9 months in the same city). Of course, this strategy is only suitable for smaller teams.
The attractiveness of co-working spaces in the new hybrid working age is backed by numbers – according to the CEO of Regus, the main competitor of WeWork, the company has recently seen a record increase in contracts as workers slowly return to workplaces and more companies are interested in starting out the hybrid model. As for WeWork itself, the company currently controls 859 buildings across 151 cities in 38 countries, however, in the third quarter of 2020 alone, it lost eleven percent of its total customers.2 Knowing, that it happened during a global pandemic in which a lot of people had to work from home, tried to avoid contacts, and were socially distancing, it depends on your perspective if you consider 11% to be a lot or not. The company is currently looking to turn things around and is planning for the second IPO, this time with a more streamlined company structure.
Interestingly, the concept of co-working space is one of the areas that may have become more popular because of the pandemic, since more people are looking at the alternatives of a traditional office lifestyle. As for the future, at least in a short term, co-working spaces are here to stay. And they may even outlive the traditional office.