Co-working spaces, shared office spaces that are typically used by the self-employed or those working for various different companies, are soaring in popularity the world over.
“So much so,” said Linda Trim, Director at workplace design specialists Giant Leap, “that working in a co-working space is rapidly becoming the new normal even for those who have traditional 9 to 5 jobs.”
Trim noted than there are currently 14 411 co-working spaces around the world today making it fastest growing type of commercial property. Globally, shared workspaces have grown at an rapid 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%.
“Co-working places are rapidly becoming the workplace of choice. Globally they are expected to be close on 4-million people who will be members of a co-working office by 2020 and that number is expected to rise to over 5-million by 2022.”
Trim added that in South Africa the trend is not as developed as it is in countries like the US, but is quickly catching on. “In major business nodes like Sandton for example, co-working places are springing up all over. For instance FutureSpace is a high end co-working space that is as appealing as WeWork, the hugely successful American co-working company that has offices in 21 countries.”
Co-working became an attractive concept because when it first started to appear, it countered the negative views of the traditional office of drab interiors with tired people spending their lives in cubicles under harsh neon lights.
“If we look back to just a few years ago, co-working was considered to be a movement or a trend, with many believing it would fade. But now co-working is a full-blown industry that is disrupting the real estate industry and the way people work.
They known for offering environments that are conducive to innovation, collaboration, and productivity. These type of workplaces were pioneers in implementing a human approach to design, a trend which is catching up among real estate developers, landlords and of course companies.
“For now co-working is today’s normal.”
The extent to which co-working has gone mainstream is evidenced in the fact that large companies are increasingly seeking to enhance the workplace experience as a means to attract and retain talent, and that a significant percentage of workers who have the option to work from home or a coffee shop prefer to work from a co-working space.
Said Trim: “By 2020, we expect 50% of large companies to have some form of shared office space to offer their workers.”
She also noted that co-working spaces were having a very positive impact on people. 84% of people who use co-working spaces are more engaged and motivated while 89% who co-work report being happier. Owning a coworking space helps to reduce the overall cost as the place is usually on a lease for a certain amount of time. Thus the saved on money can be invested in different aspects of the company.
“The co-working phenomenon has also spurred companies to make their existing offices much more people friendly and relaxed,“ Trim noted.
“On many of our briefs now we are told to design something that makes people feel they are in a relaxed environment somewhere between a coffee bar and their lounge at home.”
She added that the growth in co-working spaces will likely remain strong with a forecasted growth rate of 15% over the next 5 years.