Should U.S. Coworking Spaces Worry About Worker Migration?

People are moving from big U.S. cities to the South and Midwest regions. How will this affect coworking spaces?

This article was originally published by Allwork.Space.

According to a recent “Migration Report” by rent.com, U.S. migration patterns in 2022 are moving people away from major metropolitan cities into the Midwest and South. The report details movement trends in Q1 of 2022.

The U.S. cities with the highest outbound flow are Charlotte, N.C., Denver, Colo., Columbus, Ohio, St. Louis, Mo., and Atlanta, Ga., and the cities with the highest inbound flow are Gulfport, Miss., Ames, Iowa, and Longview, Texas.

In each case, the general migratory trend consists of people leaving large cities for significantly smaller locations (including small towns) in the South and Midwest.

Why are people moving?

While Americans — percentage-wise, not in terms of sheer numbers — are moving less now than they have ever been throughout American history, 40 million Americans still move each year.

Rent.com’s report does not specify the reasons people are moving because it only studied movement trends, not general motives for those moves. However, other data can help give us a clearer picture of people’s reasons for moving.

According to the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University, 40% of movers move for housing-related reasons, 27% for family-related reasons, 21% for job-related reasons, and 12% for other reasons.

The cost of living in large American cities is considerably higher than in the South and Midwest, so leaving for housing-related reasons make sense.

Despite the rent.com finding, Harvard’s conclusions note that the vast majority of moves people make (65%) are moves within the same county. In other words, most people do not move far when they move.

What does this mean for coworking spaces?

Considering migratory patterns is essential for coworking space operators because they can use these trends to make more accurate predictions about member numbers and future market needs.

It’s important operators know, for instance, that 60% of renters intend to find a new place to live in the next year. Additionally, of the 40 million people who move each year in America, 14% or 5.6 million people move out of state, and only 21% do so for job-related reasons.

In terms of sheer numbers, millions of people moving out of state, and likely to locations generally without coworking spaces, sounds like it could be bad news for coworking space companies.

The reality is, the impact will be relatively minor.

Just because workers are moving away from big cities does not mean they do so out of a desire to work from home. On the contrary, many prefer the option of working in a flexible office space because working from home can become a drag after a while.

Coworking companies could adopt the primary strategy to set up spaces where people are moving. In fact, some companies are already ahead of the game on these shifting markets, setting up coworking spaces in small cities, including local coworking space agencies.

In doing so, however, coworking space companies need to consider just how worth the cost of opening a new space would be. The research cited above makes no specifications about the number of movers who are workers.

Lean startup approaches could therefore be of benefit here. Consider the towns and cities that people are migrating to and study their population to determine whether or not coworking spaces are something people desire and need more of in those areas.

If an area polls well, start by creating one minimal coworking space and measuring its performance over six months. This will help determine if surveys match up well with actual performance, thus making the location a candidate for other locations.

Demand for coworking spaces will likely always remain relatively stable in big cities, though, so opening a new, more remote location may not be necessary. Luckily, there is no real need to panic based on these new migration patterns.

More from Daniel Lehewych

Will DE&I Gains Regress With the Rise of Remote and Hybrid Work?

Given the unique set of challenges that remote and hybrid work presents...
Read More

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *