Coworking: What is it? And how has it transformed the office space?

picture of a coworking space

We dive into what a coworking space is, its growth and how much it has impacted the traditional office space.

 

  • What is Coworking?
  • The growth in Coworking
  • The benefits and negatives of Coworking
  • The impact of coworking on the office industry.

What is Coworking?

Coworking is defined as the use of an office or working environment by self-employed, freelancers or workers from various employers. The idea of coworking is that it brings together numerous people from different industries and allows them to share concepts, ideas and knowledge. A coworking space has the same fundamentals as a traditional office. They offer desks, chairs, meeting rooms, hot desks, break out rooms, and depending on the design, various other amenities.

 

The growth in Coworking

The number of coworking spaces crossed 20,000 in 2019 and by 2022 it’s projected to reach 25,968, overall averaging a yearly increase of 2,595 coworking spaces every year since 2015. So where has this industry suddenly come from? Well, the answer to that is the demand for flexible spaces. At first, the growth in these spaces came from small business, start-ups and freelancers who needed more flexibility in their working life, this attracted them to coworking spaces.

However, as the industry of coworking grew big businesses saw the opportunity of coworking spaces to house their employees with Apple and Microsoft both using coworking space for some of its workforces.

Coworking does have its benefits for big & small business, it can be cost-effective and help grow productivity, as having employees work side by side with other top talent helps spread ideas and motivates workers. You can certainly say the growth in coworking is substantial and has accelerated quickly, so it’s important to recognise the negative and positive factors of coworking.

 

The Benefits and Negatives of coworking

 

Benefits

  • Cost and Flexibility.

The most notable feature of a coworking space is the fact it is cheaper compared to a normal office, as the lack of privacy or your personal space means the price of space would be lower, and the nature of flexibility means you have the freedom to come and go as you please. And in the case of sudden growth, you can expand quickly and with less hassle.

 

  • Collaboration and creative thinking.

Creative minds tend to breed creativity and when they are placed under one roof, all from different types of industries, backgrounds, and niches, this can lead to substantial productivity growth, as the help and advice from other professionals are there to assist if needed.

 

  • Perks and amenities.

Co-working space is known for its extra perks and adds ons to accommodate the lack of real office space, these can be free refreshments, wi-fi, post and package handling and various other perks.

 

Negatives

  • Lack of privacy

In a coworking space, there can be a severe lack of privacy, after all, it’s a shared space. The layouts of a co-working space are more focused on collaborations, rather cutting areas off, the layouts are open, with no partition walls. This lack of privacy can bring up problems when it comes to loud noises, phone calls and potential events that are going on, that could distract you. This is one of the substantial pros of having your own private office compared to an open co-working space.

 

  • Crowded co-working spaces.

Co-working spaces in populated cities can get incredibly crowded, if you have a hot desk, you may have to wait until one opens until you can work. This offers further complications to small businesses who rely on the spaces to survive, so if you are ever deciding to use a coworking space it’s important to consider how much space you will have and how crowded it may become.

 

  • Networking and events.

Having networking and events sounds like a positive, but in some ways having an open space where networking events take place can be a distraction to your work, especially when you need a high level of concentration. Remember to think about the impact these events can have on your work.

 

Its impact of coworking on the office industry.

The impact co-working spaces has had on the real estate industry is apparent, its allowed offices to become far more flexible and collaborative and fixes a lot of issues customers have been asking for from the commercial office industry.  However, there are questions to be asked about the long-term viability of coworking as a real estate business. Recently with major players in coworking like We Work having to potentially take a bailout because of a failed initial public offering and lack of cash due to sky rocking rent payments, it has to be questioned if the business of coworking spaces a long-term solution to the office industry is, rather a short-term fix.

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