Times are changing, and so, too, are the ways we do things. Where just a few decades ago, there still was quite a bit of resistance to the then-novel concept of telecommuting; today, the name of the game is “coworking space”. Rather than merely being structures where one can park oneself for a while to work, coworking centers have evolved into workplaces that encourage engagement among like-minded people, creating new experiences and promoting community among users.
Unless you’ve buried yourself under a rock, you should know that not having to come in to a central business hub to work the usual daily 8-5 grind is by now pretty commonplace. Instead of investing precious capital in facilities that can considerably tie up one’s cash, freelancers and entrepreneurs, as well as owners of all other sorts of business entities are now playing it smart. They’re taking advantage, more and more, of shared workspaces and their attendant conveniences in terms of facilities and equipment.
Co-working spaces continue to be one of the hottest trends among those looking for a sense of community and collaboration. The idea of a turnkey workplace that doesn’t need a huge capital investment makes the prospect of shared office space all the more attractive. Use and pay for only as much space and the facilities you need to run your business, no more.
One might say that the shared office movement has finally come of age. Demand for shared space is skyrocketing, revolutionizing the way people work. From a once-novel idea, coworking has gained significant traction, giving rise to the establishment of more than 3,000 common workspaces worldwide by as far back as 2013 – certainly a far cry from only one coworking space in the U.S. back in 2005.
Depending on your needs and the image that you’d like to build for yourself and your company, you may opt to lease a fully furnished suite of offices on a pay-as-you-go basis, or rent a communal space at a nearby coworking center. The former allows individuals or companies to occupy office space without having to worry themselves about being tied up with a long-term lease, buying or leasing equipment, or contracting for basic services such as telephone and Internet services, among other things.
The latter, on the other hand, offers more in the way of establishing a certain work culture and developing a sense of community with others who share the same interests. The communal environment allows for greater participation in varied educational opportunities, the sharing and exchange of ideas, and opportunities for socialization to reinforce a sense of belonging.
A Rising Trend
Worldwide trends show that co-working is here to stay – and is likely to grow exponentially in coming years. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics validates this: According to the government data, the number of self-employed was at 14.76 million in the third quarter of 2015 alone, reflecting an increase of more than 200,000 over the same period in the previous year.
Overall statistics also show that the number of full-time independent contractors and freelancers is growing; in the past 5 years, this segment accounted for a 12 percent increase in the nation’s workforce. As more of today’s workers drive for independence, this number is expected to balloon to 40 million self-employed Americans by 2019.
The driving force behind this push towards freelancing is the Millennial generation. These are workers between the ages of 18 and 34 – young “digital natives” who can work as comfortably from a mobile device as from a desktop computer, and who don’t mind sharing common workspaces with others. This generational shift towards an increasingly virtual work environment means an increased need for thousands of offices that can quickly and affordably be accessed across the globe, placing flexible office space at a premium. Smart business owners would do well to put their money into facilitating this need.
Recent years past have seen the emergence and growth of three basic models that have different takes on the concept of shared office space:
- With corporate downsizing taking its toll on big business, the demand for so-called “recovery workplaces” has grown to facilitate the need for business continuity. For those seeking premium services and facilities, the Executive Suite concept has proven ideal. Such suites offer company teleworkers access to top-of-the-line offices at prestigious central locations, without needlessly burning a hole in the pockets.
Think in terms of luxury office suites, warp-speed Internet services, professional on-call administrative services, video conferencing facilities and meeting rooms – you get the picture – it’s everything you need to run your as business smoothly as you would a traditional business without the attendant prohibitive costs.
- Another hybrid which has emerged from the fray is the more modest and practical Co-working Center setup. Styling itself as a more affordable alternative workplace that readily lends itself to the growth of work “communities,” where common interests and shared experiences allow for creative minds to flourish, these spaces are targeted primarily at tech-startup millennials.
Co-working spaces typically pull in a younger crowd of entrepreneurs with extras such as free beer, foosball, and opportunities for social networking. Cashing in on what is arguably the fastest growing segment of the market, investors are now sinking hundreds of millions of dollars leasing prime space for shared offices in locations all over the globe.
- A third model, a cross between the first two mentioned above, provides both high-end shareable business centers at prime locations, and virtual offices for entrepreneurs and business owners in a wide range of professions, including tech startups, brokerages, and law firms. This model ably fills a certain market niche – banking mostly on customers who want more of the privacy they need to properly conduct their business.
Even more interesting to note are recent developments towards the convergence of shared office spaces and residential real estate. This shift is aimed at meeting Millennials’ combined needs for social/work hubs: think in terms of a ready to move into, fully furnished living area with a coworking center nearby or within the same building.
These trends have certainly been a game-changer for the commercial real estate industry. As work and lifestyle needs change, it is those who understand the need to quickly respond to market dynamics who will benefit the most from the very promising future of shared office spaces.
About the Author
Dan Shaked Owner at Shaked Law Group, P.C.