The Future of Coworking Spaces
The ideal work environment?
February 23, 2019, Bruno Jacobson
You take off from home, get in your car, arrive at the company office, take the elevator, and sit at your desk. For most white-collar workers, that used to be a typical routine. You get your work done at your desk in the company's offices. But in the past couple of years there has been a growing trend toward co-shared office spaces. In this article, have a look at this trend.
The Future of Coworking Spaces
Coworking spaces are open offices where all sorts of people can come, grab a sit, and get some work done. In most cases, they work for different organizations, or for themselves, and use these co-shared offices as opportunities, to network, meet new people, exploit synergies, or just do their work.
And it's easy to see why.
Firstly, coworking spaces allow people to feel like they are part of a community of like-minded individuals. These spaces can connect people and offer the opportunity for serendipitous experiences. At almost every moment you have the chance to strike up a conversation with a fellow worker, learn something about their work, share ideas, and even collaborate on projects going forward.
Furthermore, they offer a good deal of flexibility and accessibility. Especially for "solopreneurs", freelancers, or people with small businesses. Coworking spaces can now be found in almost all big cities across the world, each often containing several such hubs. While sometimes they are free, even the paid ones are relatively cheap for what you get. On top of that, their worldwide availability also makes them extremely useful to those who travel a lot.
The most popular coworking space platform, at the moment, is WeWork. The company, which started in 2008 in the US, has recently been valued at 45 billion dollars after an additional 3 billion dollars of investment into the company by SoftBank Group Corp. The company provides its subscribers with health insurance, an internal social network, social events, workshops, and an annual summer retreat. Not bad.
One big driver of this trend is "millennials." According to Forbes, millennials are especially fond of coworking spaces for a few reasons. Firstly, as mentioned, they are cheaper. Think how much it would cost to rent a full office per month. Certainly more than the 30 to 100 bucks you'd be required to pay for a shared office.
Second, they don't need to worry about cleaning, maintenance, or other annoying responsibilities.
On top of that, the endless networking opportunities are hard to shy away from. When you're in an office space with dozens and potentially hundreds of people, there are plenty of chances to meet people and expand one's professional network.
There's also a growing number of people starting companies. By their own nature, chances of success aren't usually very high, which means there's a high turnover. Startups that are successful usually grow, and quickly, which makes them prone to hope between ever larger offices. Both founders and those managing co-working spaces know this. This new demographic, therefore, makes coworking spaces hugely attractive for startups and entrepreneurs.
These are just a few of the reasons that make millennials a perfect target group for coworking spaces.
But these shared offices can target multiple types of customers. In fact, last year the large Japanese real estate developer Mitsui Fudosan announced its intention to open up an "exclusive coworking space."
Starting at 130,000 yen per month (or about 1,180 US dollars), it wouldn't come cheap. However, one can easily see how there may be a market for more exclusive spaces. Like flying business class or first class, it comes with its perks in terms of networking.
Coworking spaces are becoming so popular, in fact, that even companies are looking to set up their own internal spaces.
According to HBR, the "Villa Bonne Nouvelle," a coworking space owned by Orange, the French Telecom, was built in order to teach its programmers and engineers how to work with and learn from people outside the company (half of the coworking space users were not working for Orange). The experiment showed that teams working in the coworking space turned in faster and better results than their counterpart teams, while also reporting increased work satisfaction.
Other companies, such as Sprint, AT&T, SAP, IBM, etc., have also launched similar initiatives. According to the magazine, these companies are creating these spaces in order to help their employees learn skills faster, make more connections, and feel more inspired.
As both internal coworking spaces and companies like WeWork grow rapidly, we can expect to see an increasing number of these offices popping up in cities worldwide.
It's too early to tell whether our perception of what a work space should be like will change drastically because of it. But one thing is clear, people are seeking alternatives to the classic corporate offices that, more often than not, can be seen as creativity- and inspiration-draining places.
Who knows if in some utopian future we won't completely do away with them, being left with coworking spaces and Google Complex-like work environments.
Are you interested in future studies? Get more exclusive content about the future and form your own view by registering to free foresight radar here.