How do you plan to work? Most organizations in the 1990’s and before invested major capital in building offices and infrastructure. Privacy and a walled off garden was the norm and goal.
Not any more.
Coworking spaces have translated from an idea to mainstream business in the last decade. According to 2017 Global Coworking Survey, more than 1.1 million people carried out their work at 13,800 coworking spaces all around the world.
Sure, we still have some sprawling offices from tech giants like Google and Microsoft, but smaller and medium-sized companies are seeing the cost benefits a shared coworking space can have over building their own.
If a single company owned all the coworking spaces around the world, it would have more international locations than Walmart. We are experiencing disruptive trends in the coworking space that is transforming the vertical unlike anything we’ve witnessed in other sectors.
While a lot is going on, today, I’ll dissect the biggest trends that will take shape in coworking space in 2019 and beyond.
Corporates Tap into the Coworking Space
Coworking spaces started garnering the favor of freelancers, entrepreneurs, independent contractors and other self-employed professionals a few years back. But now, corporates are giving shared working space more attention than ever.
Corporate customers with more than 1,000 employees using the coworking agency WeWork has doubled in a year. Big players in the industry such as Microsoft, Facebook, Bank of America and Starbucks have already become partners of WeWork.
Coworking spaces benefit corporates on many levels. They can work with energetic startups and other like-minded professionals outside the office and make room for innovation. In fact, innovation is the major driver for some big companies to look into the coworking space, among other drivers of employee productivity.
Bosch has set up their Platform 12 innovation hub a few months back on the top floor of their €300 million Renningen research campus. The coworking space brings out the creativity in the professionals who can work with other innovators and their colleagues and solve complex problems.
Coworking spaces also translate to cost savings- corporates can save around 25% compared to leased properties.
2019 will bring more partnerships between corporates and coworking space providers, and other big companies will launch their own initiatives. The future will make coworking space a melting pot where new startups will also get to work with corporate innovation groups.
The Merging of Coworking and Real Estate
Coworking and real estate work better together. And developers have begun to realize the profit in creating mix-use spaces.
Traditional landlords who want to utilize their building and bring it to life are partnering with coworking space operators. By the same token, shared working space operators are also joining hands with real estate developers so that they can provide more amenities to their clients such as gyms, spas, swimming pools, fitness centres, event spaces and so on.
Real estate developers and coworking space operators generally form an agreement. The developers look after the construction site, while the operators help out with technology, design and training. The operators charge a part of profit or management fee for their services.
Some developers are choosing to walk the path alone and launch their own coworking space initiatives. Not just in the USA or UK, the trend has also established itself in the Asian markets. The big companies such as RMZ Corp have launched their own coworking brand CoWrks while Aurum Land Private Limited has introduced Collision 8.
Blockchain Touches Coworking
The technology of blockchain has been transforming every industry it has laid its hand on. Originally developed for the management of cryptocurrencies, the technology is being used in various verticals such as healthcare, finance, accounting, gaming, digital publishing, food security and almost anything you can imagine!
Blockchain has stood out as a promising factor for coworking, and some agencies have already started focusing on the subject. Providers can look to benefit from the introduction of blockchain technology and help them with tasks like procurement, payments and managing agreements.
The main benefit would be around property management and lease transactions using the smart contract of the blockchain, according to a real estate report by Deloitte.
Many coworking spaces have started serving to blockchain communities and startups to foster development and innovation in this regard. Full Node has developed their coworking space in Berlin just for blockchain companies and undertook education and collaboration to further the cause.
Some players in the industry have also started transacting using cryptocurrencies. Primalbase enables people to buy, rent or share coworking spaces through Wave and Ethereum digital tokens. The company operates their offices in London, Berlin, Amsterdam, Singapore and New York.
Efforts toward Niche Specific Workspace
Most startups are happy with generic coworking spaces that come with fast Wifi and coffee machines. This has been established as a viable business model, but the next step in the process is increased specialisation.
Looking ahead, industry-specific and niche coworking spaces that cater to a particular industry or type of people will become increasingly common. From fostering creativity to boosting productivity, this will be the new battleground coworking space providers will play up to lure more traditional workers into the coworking universe.
Already, specialized coworking spaces catering to small businesses have emerged. These spaces provide support and equipment that appeal specifically to business owners in architecture, construction, interior design etc, by providing large-scale printing plotters and other specialized equipment.
Another area of huge growth for coworking spaces will be in the health conscious millennials and Generation Zs. While the overall trend towards a more ergonomic workplace is nothing new, these categories of workers are especially discriminating, and strongly prefer coworking spaces with standing desks, ergonomic chairs, and other health positive facilities built in. A recent study revealed over 39% of coworking space participants would like to see such ergonomic amenities in their shared spaces.
Coworking space is going to grow, and 2019 will bring exciting trends into the market. Expect large-scale transformation of traditional working spaces into coworking spaces with exceptional capabilities, which will eventually affect most of us at some point.