With new coworking spaces popping up at an annual global growth rate of 24.2%, it’s clear that what was once a trend is now a permanent shift in the way we work. But, as the industry matures and global coworking trends proliferate, what are the spaces and services that will work best for you and your remote work arrangement?
Top 6 Global Coworking Trends: What Is the Perfect Workspace for You?
New options in coworking spaces have inspired office workers to emerge owl-eyed from their caves and office types to embrace a more casual and collaborative approach to work. Arising from a perfect storm of technology improvements, the gig economy boom, and increasing numbers of freelance workers, global coworking trends indicate an influx of flexible workspace options. By the end of 2019, there will be 22,000 coworking spaces serving over 2.2 million people, according to Deskmag’s 2019 Global Coworking Survey.
This stream of new businesses promotes competition to develop a wide variety of unique and innovative spaces, services, programming, and perks designed to lure in new members.
You probably have some idea of what a coworking space is. On the more practical end of things, Google’s dictionary defines coworking as, “the use of an office or other working environment by people who are self-employed or working for different employers, typically so as to share equipment, ideas, and knowledge.” On the more philosophical side, the Global Coworking Unconference Conference (GCUC) organization, touts coworking as a social movement designed to change the way we work.
Common Characteristics of Coworking Spaces
Whether you think it’s a practical solution or a social movement, there are a few characteristics that most coworking spaces have in common:
- Community. Whether they are successful at creating it or not, almost all coworking spaces promote the idea of community as a major membership incentive. This is also the primary differentiator between a coworking space and old-school, real-estate driven shared office space.
- Mixed-Use Spaces. A combination of spaces containing communal seating, hot desks or day-use desks, private offices, and conference rooms are common to all coworking spaces. Within these spaces, however, there is amazing diversity in both style and function. Options range from modernist napping walls and corporate training spaces to Boho-inspired lounges.
- Programming & Support Services. Most coworking spaces include some type of programming from social events and training seminars to full-service coaching and mentoring. In addition, there are usually a variety of virtual and on-site office services, like reception or photocopying, that members can utilize. Many businesses also offer complimentary tea, coffee, and snacks in fully stocked kitchens.
- Subscription-based. Coworking spaces make their money by selling memberships. Some may require a time commitment, such as a six-month contract, but most do not. Members are able to choose their level of participation and services based on a tiered system. Levels are usually determined by whether or not members want private, permanent office space. Sometimes memberships will also include perks such as access to the company’s other coworking space locations or 24-hour access to the facility.
Global Coworking Trends to Incentivize New Members
As the competition increases and more coworking spaces open across the U.S. and around the globe, the challenge is on to gain and retain new members. In fact, the acquisition of new members is cited as the biggest challenge for coworking spaces. This focus has turned the whole idea of office space on its head. Instead of workers being forced to adapt to ready-made office spaces, office spaces are now adapting to what the worker wants to entice us into staying around for a while. This amazing new development has led to several trends in the race to gain new members:
1. Specialized Services
As the number of options in one geographic area increases, so does the diversity of specialized services available. Competition is encouraging new coworking spaces to differentiate themselves in what is becoming a crowded marketplace in some areas of the world.
Many of the technology-focused coworking spaces and startup programs that were at the forefront of the specialized coworking movement have become established successes. For example, Tampa Bay Wave located in Tampa, Florida has been around for 10+ years now and become a leading regional tech accelerator that supports over 150 tech startups and 250 entrepreneurs.
These stalwarts are now making way for new operations that incorporate further diversification. By offering services important to their target demographic, they hope to attract a group of coworkers that will establish a positive, engaging, and sustainable community. New offerings vary from catering to a certain profession, such as the Enrich Coworking Community for Lawyers in San Diego (which is also dog-friendly), to providing lifestyle solutions, such as juggleHub Coworking in Berlin, Germany that provides flexible childcare for busy parents.
2. Creative Spaces
Another way that new coworking organizations are seeking to differentiate themselves and appeal to remote workers is through creating unique and innovative spaces. It’s all about functional design for these folks. Through the creative use of décor and the development of specialized spaces, coworking organizations are combining work and leisure in interesting ways.
For example, creative types will appreciate the aesthetics and the function of the Village Underground in Lisbon, Portugal. Here, the workspaces are refurbished shipping containers and double-decker buses and the outdoor space doubles as event space for music festivals.
3. Global Expansion
Coworking spaces seem tailor-made for frequent travelers and digital nomads. The proliferation of coworking spaces around the world has afforded easy access to meeting people and making contacts in a new location. In addition, coworking spaces offer access to meeting spaces, office equipment, and WiFi in areas where these amenities may not be readily available.
One option for travelers and nomads is to research local coworking options to find one that works for them and is convenient to get to. Many international coworking spaces offer specialized access for digital nomads with dedicated open space and hourly rates such as Coworkspace in Paris, France.
Another option is to get a membership with a global coworking company. The largest example in this category is Regus which offers coworkers access to hot desks and business lounges at 3,000 locations in 120 countries with monthly memberships starting at $84.
4. Multiple Locations
As the coworking industry expands, it is inevitable that branded chains would begin to emerge in the marketplace. These organizations may not have an international presence, but they usually have multiple locations in one city or region. This makes it handy for people who travel locally to have a convenient place to drop in for a meeting or to catch up on emails.
One example of this type of coworking organization is Make Offices with 14 locations in Chicago, New York City, and Philadelphia. The cost of a full time “community” membership starts at $250 and a private office at $600. However, these prices are all-inclusive of on-site services and allow access to all other locations at no extra cost as well.
An alternative for remote workers who would like to spend less and have more flexibility, Deskpass is a great option. Memberships are based on the number of monthly visits, not desks, and start at $49 per month for 4 visits. With over 300 independent locations in Chicago, New York City, Los Angeles, Austin, San Francisco, Denver, Boston, Miami, and Washington DC, members have access to all sorts of unique spaces to work, from traditional office towers to renovated historic mansions.
5. Costs & Memberships
The average costs of monthly coworking memberships have not changed recently and remain around $387 monthly for a dedicated office and $195 for a desk. What has changed is the number of membership options. Some coworking spaces offer mini memberships of four to 10 days per month such as Deskpass. This makes casual coworking a viable option for those who don’t want to cough up the sometimes steep daily rates.
In addition, some coworking organizations are heading in the other direction and are offering premium services. These can include space customization and branding for well-funded startups or growing enterprises. An example of this model is Industrious Office, a quickly growing chain with 44 locations all over the United States.
6. Corporate Inroads
As with all successful grassroots movements, bigger corporations clue in and want to reap the benefits. Whether it’s to provide their remote employees with an office, encourage innovation among their employees, or reduce overhead and real estate costs, prepare to see more corporate presences in the coworking world.
Corporations approach entry into the market in two ways. First, by using current coworking spaces such as WeWork which recently reported that 25% of their members and revenues come from companies with 1000+ employees. The second way is by creating their own coworking spaces. For example, Sprint runs an accelerator program in Kansas City, and State Farm operates a free coworking space called Next Door in Chicago that also provides free financial coaching services.
How to Choose the Coworking Option That Is Best for You
The wonderful thing about global coworking trends and the growth of the coworking industry is that there are tons of flexible workspace options available. To find the best choices for you, first, start by asking yourself the following questions to determine your requirements:
- What amenities are most important to you? As you can see from the discussion above, there are all kinds of office equipment and services that can come as part of a coworking membership. Identify what is most important to you, whether that is a mailing address or access to a good printer.
- Do you want to meet up with like-minded people and feel part of a community? If it is important to your work that you collaborate and network, then check out spaces with targeted or specialized services that meet your needs. Don’t assume it’s not out there, you’d be surprised by what you might find.
- Are you working on your own or as part of a team? If you are working as part of a team, you may want to consider a permanent office arrangement. Many coworking offices are large enough to accommodate entire teams. That way, even if you all don’t go to the office every day, there is always a dedicated space if needed.
- Do you travel frequently? If yes, a regional, national, or global chain may be your best bet. By picking an option like Regus, any membership level provides access to well-equipped office space in cities around the world.
- Is client meeting space an important consideration? If this is the case, you will want to make sure that the meeting rooms will meet your requirements. A lot of coworking spaces are based on open spaces and transparency so glass office walls are not unusual. This arrangement won’t work if you need privacy. In addition, private conference spaces are usually an extra charge to your membership, so cost may be another consideration.
- What kind of work culture do you thrive in? This question incorporates all those intangibles that go into your enjoyment of a workspace. This can only be determined by trial and error. You may choose a coworking space thinking that it will be perfect only to find it is too loud or too quiet, too busy or too empty, too friendly or not friendly enough.
Once you have developed a list of your top requirements, research spaces that may work for you. There are many ways to find coworking options that will meet your needs. You can try a generic search using Yelp, Google, or Google maps, or you try an aggregator service such as Coworker. While Coworker doesn’t provide an exhaustive list, the site offers additional benefits such as verified listings and an easy to read fact sheet with pricing.
Finally, shortlist a few options and check them out. Most coworking organizations offer free tours or trials so that you can experience the work environment before you commit to spending any more time and money. Chances are that whatever coworking space you decide to join, there will be a list of pluses and minuses. In the end, there are as many reasons for choosing a particular coworking space as there are individuals who are coworking. Luckily, the choice is now yours.
Are there other global coworking trends we missed? Connect with Virtual Vocations on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn to tell us about global coworking trends we should discover. We’d love to know what you have to say!
iStock Photo Credit: 1. Deagreez; 2. monzenmachi; 3. andresr
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