For many years, coworking spaces seemed to be the natural evolution of the office for all but the largest companies. They offered all the benefits of working in a physical location with extra perks; typically, lower costs, added flexibility, and the opportunity to interact with other interesting companies and build connections. The promise of coworking first took a hit as Masayoshi Son almost went bankrupt (again) as SoftBank tried to keep their coworking investments afloat. Then came a much more severe hit as throughout 2020, employees all across the world retreated from their coworking habitats into the recluse of their homes. It would be a shame for what felt to many like the natural progression of commercial real estate to just disappear, but what exactly is on the horizon for coworking spaces?
There are many services offered by coworking spaces that are sustainable even with lower footfall—features such as a professional address, the opportunity to have a space for meetings, and secretary services can all retain their value even when most employees have to work at home. Coworking organizations can therefore tread water by focusing on the value that can be attained either remotely or in a socially distanced manner. Safe meetings are a good example of this—if coworking brands focus on building trust on their safety and hygiene then they will be able to obtain revenue either by companies retaining their services or by switching to a pay-as-you-go-style model, such as that offered by Office Evolution’s private office service (see www.officeevolution.com/private-office), which requires a monthly membership fee to be able to enjoy credit for meeting-room time and discounts on conference rooms.
The Nationwide Bonus
As more and more employers are turning to remote work, especially new start-ups that are growing in a world where physical interaction has a stigma, coworking organizations that have a nationwide presence are at a distinct advantage. This is because they are able to offer a subscription package for a company to use office space in every major location in America; meaning that remote employees can still have an office even if it’s 500 miles from the coworking space where the company founder is set up. In this same vein, those with an international presence in tech-hubs such as India or Georgia yield even greater advantages.
A Move Away From Space
Coworking organizations previously had a race to create the biggest coworking space because many of them operated by charging for the number of square meters that a business uses. Now, it looks like the trend will instead be on focusing on the number of members that use the coworking space. Services will shift to supplement that, perhaps offering different tiers for different members as a way for businesses to incentivize employees. There will also likely be a focus on enhancing the connections between members so that the coworking space better delivers on the business networking benefit of the company. Using machine-learning tools to monitor the businesses that use the space and recommend pairings is a viable place to start.