Jon Muller of Ergonomic Trends shares 3 of the biggest coworking trends shaping the industry as we head into Q4 of 2021 and 2022.
Like many industries, coworking operators have taken a hard hit due to COVID-19. However, as employers and employees alike grow wary of working from home, coworking spaces are poised to make a comeback as part of an emerging hybrid work model.
Recent market reports estimate that the global coworking industry is still on a growth trajectory that will help it surpass $13.03 billion by 2025. That’s a compounded annual growth rate of 12%.
With that said, here are 3 of the biggest coworking trends shaping the industry as we head into Q4 of 2021 and 2022.
1. The Continued Rise of Corporate Coworking
Even prior to the pandemic, large enterprises were already incorporating coworking and other flexible workspace solutions into their corporate real estate strategy. Moving forward, companies that implement hybrid work arrangements will increasingly leverage flexible workspace solutions, including coworking spaces.
How? In a variety of ways.
Employers will likely turn to coworking to:
- De-densify and decentralize their office space
- Support employees that prefer working closer to home
- Reduce their long-term lease commitments
- Support employees that choose to continue working remotely full-time.
All of the above respond to the fact that the coronavirus pandemic has fundamentally changed the way people work, and as a result, altered the role of the corporate headquarters as well.
This is manifesting itself in a variety of ways, as exemplified by decisions made by the likes of Pinterest, BP Plc., Dropbox, Fujitsu, and plenty others.
Pinterest paid $89.5 million to terminate a lease for what would have been its new headquarters in San Francisco; BP Plc. announced plans to sell its headquarters in central London. Dropbox launched Dropbox Studios to provide their remote employees with access to workplaces closer to home, Fujitsu also announced it would slash its real estate footprint by half in less than three years.
It’s important to remember that despite the fact that companies are ridding themselves of their office space, the office is far from dead. The concept of the office is evolving, and a key component of that evolution is increased flexibility and agility.
2. Pivot towards the Suburbia
Corporate America is coming to a suburbia near you. In fact, 2022 will be the year the migration kicks into overdrive.
Some companies, like Dropbox, will launch their own satellite offices (Dropbox Studio) to respond to worker demands. Others will likely turn to coworking space operators to help them set up a network of satellite and regional offices. This is why major coworking brands such as IWG, WeWork, Industrious are already setting up shop in suburban areas. Smaller players like Office Evolution and Premier Workspaces are also moving quickly to expand beyond the city centers.
But why the shift to suburbia?
COVID-19 has ushered in the greatest remote work experiment the world has ever seen, with hundreds of millions of workers now accustomed to working from home. Employers face the daunting task of luring employees back into the office, or at least out of their house. The move to suburbia is a part of that plan.
The latest statistics show that 68% of Americans now prefer a hybrid work model that consists of some sort of remote working. Up to 39% of workers would even consider quitting if they aren’t given that flexibility from their existing employer.
Working remotely doesn’t necessarily have to mean working from home. In an interview with RE Journals, JLL’s global flexible space lead, Ben Munn argued that demand for near-to-home suburban office locations are increasing as workers search for a workplace setting that isn’t their home. The idea of the “15 Minute City” has really taken off due to COVID-19, a concept where one’s daily needs can all be met within walking or biking distance.
In other words, many workers are actually still willing to go into the office. They’re just not as willing to commute anymore. This is why suburban office locations and coworking spaces will become a key part of CRE strategies, by bringing the office closer to its employees.
3. Landlords Enter the Coworking Arena
And finally, 2022 will bring more competition for coworking operators as landlords get into the game en masse.
Instead of partnering with coworking spaces, landlords and property investment groups increasingly see an opportunity to create their own flexible space offerings that cut out the middleman.
Some established landlords like Tishman Speyer, BritishLand, Hongkong Land Holdings Ltd, and Swire Properties are already directly competing with coworking operators after launching their own coworking arms.
Other landlords are transforming themselves into flexible office operators at a time where demand from traditional corporate clients in city centers are falling.
Shaftesbury, a real estate developer in the UK, recently launched “Assemble” to cater to a new wave of tenants seeking flexibility and localization of amenities. It offers fully fitted, essentially plug and play office spaces that enable tenants to be up and running in no time. Occupiers can choose between a selection of predefined interior schemes that match the culture and energy of each company.
The involvement of landlords in the coworking industry should spur both opportunity and competition for existing coworking space operators.
Coworking Trends for 2022
The coworking industry has come a long way since its beginning in the mid-2000s. Despite the pandemic, coworking spaces has proven extremely resilient, and in fact is primed for growth as it adapts and caters to the new remote work trend.