Coworking Is The New Normal, And These Stats Prove It

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Cecilia Amador de San José
Cecilia Amador de San José
Cecilia Amador de San José, Senior Associate Editor of Allwork.Space, is based from wherever her laptop is. She enjoys traveling and visiting new flexible workspaces. If you'd like Ceci to check out your workspace, feel free to reach out to her at [email protected] (and send a plane ticket).

Despite the negative impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on coworking spaces, the industry is expected to continue growing and thriving in a post-pandemic world.  

Photo by S O C I A L . C U T on Unsplash

This article was originally published by Allwork.Space.

Coworking is here to stay. It was here to stay before the coronavirus pandemic; but the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic has solidified coworking’s standing as a preferable workspace solution.

In the early days of coworking, many argued it was nothing more than a movement and trend that would eventually fade away.

Twelve years later, what started as a movement has become a full-blown industry that has entirely disrupted the way people lease and use office space. As demand for coworking spaces has risen and the industry evolved, so has the terminology. Today, many people use coworking, flexible workspace, and workspace-as-a-service to refer to the same thing.

One thing is clear, regardless of the term you decide to use, flexible work environments are here to stay.

From trend to mainstream

The Oxford English Dictionary defines normal as: “the usual, typical, or expected state or condition.” As Sara King notes in this article, coworking could arguably be classed as a ‘new normal’ for workplace requirements. And we think that’s spot on.

Coworking spaces have become the expected and preferred workplace of today’s workforce. This is now truer than ever, especially as more companies shift to permanent remote work options following the coronavirus pandemic. Companies adopting hybrid work models are incorporating flexible workspace solutions into their real estate strategies in order to cater to the needs of remote workers across different cities and countries.

It’s not just the increased adoption from corporates that points to coworking being the new, preferred normal; it’s also the increased interest the coworking industry is experiencing from landlords, property developers, and investors alike.

A bright future ahead

The coworking industry has been hard-hit by the pandemic. But better days are ahead.

Despite a slowdown in growth, research from the past year shows that the coworking industry will come out alive and strong following the COVID-19 pandemic.

Specifically, reports have found that suburban coworking spaces stand to win the most in a post-pandemic world. As remote work is adopted, many are choosing to leave big cities in favor of more suburban (and affordable) areas.

Numbers that back up the growth and potential of coworking (updated, March 2021)

Statistics gathered from reports published in 2020-2021

  • Despite the pandemic, many markets globally have shown increased demand for flexible workspace, and on shorter terms. The Instant Group forecasts flexible workspace supply growth of over 21% in 2021.
  • As of Q2 2020, the coworking footprint nearly doubled since 2017 to 86.0 million square feet (msf).
  • Coworking space as a percentage of total office space nearly doubled from 1.1% in 2017 to 2.1% as of Q2 2020
  • 67% of CRE decision makers are increasing workplace mobility programs and incorporating flexible space as a central element of their agile work strategies.
  • 86% of CBRE respondents see flexible office space as a key component of their future real estate strategies.
  • More than 90% of respondents projected lease flexibility will increase in the future. Of these respondents, 25% believed this will take the form of more flexible workspace agreements.
  • The Commercial Observer estimates that coworking spaces are likely to double or triple in the U.S. in five years.
  • Landlords will increasingly allocate 10 – 25% of their assets for flexible leases.
  • 71.5% of workers that used coworking prior to the pandemic plan to return to it, while 54.9% of remote workers that didn’t use coworking before stated that they will consider joining a coworking space as a remote work solution in the future.
  • 40% would like to be able to work from a third-party place such as a coffee shop or a coworking space (+11%).
  • Coworking spaces will become popular among a growing percentage of employees (from 30% pre-crisis to 40% post-crisis).
  • 20% of corporate workers used coworking space at least one day a week, an increase from 14% in 2019.
  • 30% of flexible workspace providers reported that occupancy rates have remained relatively stable through the global lockdown, only falling by 10%.
  • Supply in the UK has grown by 4% despite COVID-19.
  • The share of the flexible office market held by London continues to grow year on year, up to 31% in 2020.
  • The UK flexible workspace market is on track to hit 12.5% penetration within two years – a doubling of current supply.
  • 90% of LATAM operators are planning to expand over the next 12 months.
  • Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, JLL still predicts 30% of all office space will be consumed flexibly by 2030.
  • The U.S. total flex office inventory was reduced by only about 1% in H1 2020.
  • Inner cities have become the most popular location type to date in 2020 with a 52% share of demand.
  • 43% of workers would consider working from a company-provided location nearer to their home at least a few times a week.

The statistics were compiled from a number of reports:

The Instant Group – 2021 CRE PredictionsThe Changing Face of an Industry: UK Flex Market ReviewThe Growth of Flexible Workspace in Latin AmericaThe Rise of Suburbia: Can a hub and spoke model really work? 

JLL – The impact of COVID-19 on Flexible SpaceShaping Human Experience

CBRE – The End of the BeginningWorkforce Sentiment Survey

Colliers International – Flex Forward

Coworking Insights – 2020 Future of Work Report: What the Future Holds for Coworking & Remote Work

Cushman & Wakefield – The Changing Role of Coworking in the Workplace Ecosystem

Gensler – US Workplace Survey 2020

Statistics gathered from reports published in 2019

  • There are approximately over 35,000 flexible workspaces in the entire world, which represents 521 million square feet of flexible space.
  • The global market value of flexible workspaces is estimated at an approximate $26 billion.
  • Up until  2022, the number of coworking spaces is expected to grow at an annual rate of 6% in the U.S. and 13% elsewhere.
  • The amount of coworking space leased and its share of total office space rose by almost half in only 18 months, from the end of 2016 through mid-2018.
  • In 2018,  the number of coworking spaces rose 16% in the U.S. and 36% outside the U.S.
  • Between 2014 and end of 2018, the number of flexible workspace locations expanded by +205% while the number of operators expanded by +138%.
  • 40% of flexible workspace demand is forecast to come from large and corporate companies.
  • 14% of employees at large companies use coworking spaces.
  • The average coworking space requirement continues to increase year after year, with the average client taking 7 desks.
  • 72% of coworking operators say they expect to see further industry consolidation, with 58% believing consolidation is a great opportunity.
  • In 2018, flexible workspaces accounted for more than two-thirds of the market occupancy gains.
  • By 2030, the flexible workspace market is expected to represent 30% of U.S. office stock.
  • Coworking spaces accounted for almost 10% of space leased in Manhattan in the first half of 2018.
  • Demand of flexible workspace solutions from corporate clients increased by 21% in 2018.
  • Europe is forecast to see 255 million square feet of flexible space in 2019,  which represents a 12% increase.
  • Flexible workspaces are expected to make up 7% of the London Commercial Real Estate market in 2019.
  • In 2018, active flexible workspace locations totaled 11.5 million square feet in London, with a further 3.0 million square feet expected to blaunched between now and 2020.
  • Coworking in Asia-Pacific has the highest share of the overall office stock at 2.1%, comparatively in Europe and North America the share is around 1.0%.
  • 15% and 5% Proportion of Grade A office space occupied by flexible workspace operators in prime office areas of Bangalore and Singapore.
  • In 2018, flexible workspaces accounted for 16% of prime grade net absorption in Shanghai, 10% on Hong Kong Island, 8% in the five central wards of Tokyo, and 45% in Singapore.

The statistics were compiled from a number of reports:

Colliers International — U.S. Flexible Workspace Outlook ReportThe Flexible Workspace Outlook Report 2019 EMEAOccupier Profiles
Gensler — U.S. Workplace Survey 2019
JLL — Flexible Workspace Markets 2019
Instant Offices — Flexible Workspace Trends and Predictions, GCUC presentation
Cushman & Wakefield — European Coworking Hotspot Index
COLATAM presentations

Statistics gathered from reports published in 2017-2018

  • There are currently 14,411 Coworking spaces in the world today.
  • Shared workspaces have grown at an incredible rate of 200% over the past five years. In global cities like London, New York and Chicago they are expanding at an annual rate of 20%, making coworking an institutional part of the market.
  • The number of coworking spaces in Australia grew 297% between 2013-2017.
  • The average flexible workspace unit size is estimated at 22,300 sq ft, which is an increase from circa 15,000 sq ft two years ago.
  • Flexible workspace operators currently occupy around 10.7 million square feet of space across central London.
  • Flexible workspaces are typically operating at 84% capacity in Central  London.
  • Leasing 2.6m sq ft of space, WeWork has become the largest corporate office occupier in Central London
  • Coworking has taken the Asia-Pacific region by storm, leasing more than 8.0 million square feet over the last two year.
  • Coworking now takes up 27million square feet of office space across the US.
  • Occupancy levels have been nearing 100% for the few institutionalised coworking operators in India.
  • The coworking segment in India is expected to receive $400 million in investments by 2018
  • The potential market size for the coworking segment across India currently stands in the range of 12-16 million.
  • The number of coworking members will rise to 3.8 million by 2020 and 5.1 million by 2022
  • 76% of coworking members plan to remain users of coworking spaces in 2018.
  • By 2020 50% of large companies will have some form of shared office space.
  • 83% of users of coworking and other forms of flexible space claim to have benefited from these new work environments over the last 5-10 years.
  • 84% of people who use coworking spaces are more engaged and motivated.
  • 89% of people who cowork reported being happier.
  • The future of coworking is forecasted at a healthy growth rate of 15% over the next 5 years
  • 72% of landlords agree that working with coworking operators has significant benefits for their development

The statistics were compiled from a number of reports:

Cushman & Wakefield — Asia PacificCoworking 2018: The Flexible Workplace Evolves
JLL — Global Market PerspectiveThe Future of Work: The Coworking Revolution,
GCUC + Emergent Research — 2018 Coworking Forecast
Yardi Matrix — Shared Space: Coworking’s Rising Star
Deskmag — The 2018 Global Coworking Survey
The Instant Group — The Marketplace for Flexible Work
Knight and Frank — Culture Clash: Flexible Workspace, Coworking & the Future

Cecilia Amador de San José
Cecilia Amador de San José
Cecilia Amador de San José, Senior Associate Editor of Allwork.Space, is based from wherever her laptop is. She enjoys traveling and visiting new flexible workspaces. If you'd like Ceci to check out your workspace, feel free to reach out to her at [email protected] (and send a plane ticket).
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