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Co-Working Space

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What is Co-working space?

Co-working, or ‘coworking’, is an increasingly popular format of working for businesses of all sizes – from freelancers to enterprises. And the number of coworking providers, and the variety of membership options available from those providers, within the flexible workspace market continues to increase.

The concept has actually been around in various formats for many years and the modern definition of a co-working space is one in which an individual. or a cluster or team of individuals, works privately within a communal space.

The individuals work on their own projects in a space in which power, Wi-Fi, furnishings and other services, amenities and facilities – which vary depending on the specific space – are effectively shared by the group or community of co-workers.

Coworkers effectively work privately yet in a shared workspace. 

If you are looking for membership options from co-working office space providers, we have partnered with 99% of the providers globally and can ensure you achieve the best deal.

The individuals working within the space are most often unrelated to each other – some may be freelancers, some may be artists, some entrepreneurs, there could be a couple of individuals working together on a startup, some could be team members from a corporate organisation working together on a new project outside of the usual HQ workspace, and some may be ‘digital nomads’ spending a day in that particular space in that particular city.

Libraries were effectively the first co-working spaces, and the concept has evolved over the last three decades or so.

With the growth of coffee shops together with the growth of mobile technology, we have seen the emergence of ‘coffee shop campers’ – with their laptops and phones plugged into the wall and hooked up to the Wi-Fi working on their own in a communal space – the same can be seen in bars, pubs, cafes and other spaces around the world.

Example of co-working office space

Airport lounges have long been co-working spaces for business people on the go, and workspace providers such as Regus developed their model so that their business centres also started providing business lounges that were similar in characteristics to the airside counterparts.

The flexible workspace market as a whole also grew steadily yet notably over the past three decades, and it gathered considerable momentum in the late 2000s and early 2010s. One of the main reasons for the accelerated growth was the Great Recession of 2008 – this forced organisations of all sizes in all sectors to reconsider their real estate commitments – they needed to be agile in order to react to volatile markets that pressured them to quickly downsize, upsize, change location or pivot.  Being tied into a 10-year traditional workspace lease would not allow for that sort of adaptability.

Another reason for the growth was the emergence of the tech startup – with the help of massive funding rounds, some of these have grown from 2 to 200 employees in the space of 12 months. Again, a fixed traditional lease would not provide the required suppleness.

Improvements and innovations in hardware and software have paved the way for greater remote connectivity and communication for workers, and there has also been an increased acceptance and even encouragement towards remote working, across many sectors, which has also fuelled the appetite for flexibility.

In this time period, we have also seen a big increase in the self-employment market which is partly due to the emergence of the ‘gig-economy’ with the likes of Upwork, Freelancer, and Fiverr providing marketing platforms for self-employed freelancers.

With this growing insistence on flexibility, many providers of flexible workspace have expanded their portfolios to also include co-working spaces, and there has also been sizeable growth in the number of operators that solely provide co-working spaces.

One co-working space provider that has gained so much media coverage it has almost become a household name, is WeWork – launched in 2010 and, in 2018, managed over 10 million square feet of workspace in 19 countries with over 100,000 community members.

In 2021, WeWork became a publicly-traded company on the New York Stock Exchange. Following an attempted IPO in 2019, the company chose a different route and, following a $9bn merger with special purpose acquisition company, BowX, the company began trading under the ticker, ‘We’.

How does Co-working work?

As opposed to traditional workspace options, co-working spaces run on a community membership basis with a monthly or annual subscription charge for an individual. The member can use the space as often as they want, and in the case of the larger providers, can use any of the co-working spaces within the national or international portfolio.

Depending on the particular membership, there are often perks included such as free refreshments, preferential postage and shipping rates, discounts on software for accounting, legal documents and so on, entry to networking events, free meditation and other wellness classes, and access to private social networks.

What are the Benefits of Co-working?

Community – One of the benefits of working in a co-working space is the sense of community – even though each individual may be working on something completely separate and unrelated to anybody else in that space, the sense of working within a shared space can eliminate the isolation that people working on their own can sometimes experience.

Networking – Just working within a co-working office space provides opportunities for networking with fellow co-workers, however, many operators also lay on weekly, monthly, quarterly and annual networking events to encourage growth, connection and collaboration, this is often further enhanced by private social networks set up by an operator.

Economies of Scale – A co-working space can provide access to equipment and services that would be expensive to access if doing so individually, for instance, many co-working spaces provide access to business-grade Wi-Fi, printers, copiers, software packages, postage facilities and so on.

Exclusive Addresses – Membership of a co-working community space provides a workspace in a district or building that could otherwise be too expensive to work in. There are co-working spaces on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, in Bishopsgate in the City of London and in the Jing’an District in Shanghai – locations that are more expensive to access if opting for a traditional private workspace.

Optional Extras – The operators of co-working spaces often provide additional workspace options within the buildings in which they operate, such as private meeting rooms, conferencing facilities, private phone booths, and private workspaces that can be used on an ad hoc basis.

How much does Co-working cost, is it expensive?

The cost of co-working space tracks real estate values so it varies from district-to-district, city-to-city and country-to-country, however, generally speaking, co-working works out approximately 25% cheaper than traditional workspace in the same location. You can view some of the more expensive office spaces available in areas such as Mayfair, Dubai as well as The City Of London here .

How do I find a Co-Working Space?

The Office Providers work with 99% of the co-working space providers around the world – both the flexible workspace providers that have developed their portfolios to incorporate co-working space and the operators that focus solely on providing co-working spaces.

If you would like to search all co-working options in a particular location and receive a free availability report then just contact us and let us know your requirements.

We are regulated by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) so we are independent and impartial, and commercial property professionalism is at our core. Our coworking office space occupier representation and advisory services are FREE, always.

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See examples of Coworking Space Providers in New York City on this page