Last week, we shared a story on the sudden decline of coworking “giant” WeWork. In case you haven’t had a chance to read it yet (I highly recommend it as it sheds some serious light on the topic) the TLDR gist of the story is that the company has very quickly declined from a $47 billion company to an $8 billion one. That said, their drop in value has resulted in a need to offload assets, such as a variety of coworking companies it recently purchased – some as recent as this year.
Despite the company’s obvious failures, according to a recent coworking survey by Clutch, WeWork is still pretty popular. When surveyed against 5 other possible choices, the company took the top spot, with 39% of respondents said they work from a WeWork location.
But watch out WeWork! In the same poll, 36% of people (only 3% less than WeWork) are opting for local spaces for their coworking needs. So what does this mean for the coworking landscape in 2020? Clutch found some really interesting data that may give us some clues into what the future of coworking may look like.
Our first trend is that coworking spaces are seemingly favored by business who prefer to be involved in their local community and offer community-based perks. This is something that niche spaces, like Enterprise Coworking, owned by Focus Property Group in Denver, Colorado, are capitalizing on.
Andrew Schuh, a marketing specialist at Focus Property Group, says that local Denver businesses tend to be drawn to their coworking space and that “being local and involved in local events and forming partnerships with local businesses has really helped us. We have a local touch that WeWork doesn’t have.”
But are other local businesses and employees around the globe following suit? We’ve found that whether or not you’re with a company or single employee, the decision to go with a larger space, vs. a smaller, local space, really comes down to a couple things: the size and type of company you work for and your company’s policy on remote working.
For example, if you are a freelancer and you do not have a dedicated space to work in, assuming you have the amount of work that warrants a coworking membership, logic would say that you may want to go with a larger space like WeWork – one with more amenities (which we’ll discuss later in the story). However, being a freelancer also means that you’re probably the one paying for the space, so both actual need and budget can be very real concerns. These concerns may force you in the direction of a local company, vs. a large company like WeWork.
On the other hand, if you are part of an organization that pays for, or subsidizes your remote workspace (lucky you!), you may very well have the means to go with a larger space like WeWork.
Another trend that certainly plays a role in the 2020 landscape is in relation to company policy. It’s important to mention that many, but not all, larger companies have restrictions when it comes to remote working. Some businesses may completely disallow remote working, while others may only offer the ability to work out of the office a few days a week.
Clutch goes on to point out that if a company has more than 100 employees, it’s more likely that their employees visit their coworking space the majority of the week. They found that 53% of employees from larger companies spend 5 or more days per week at their remote office of choice.
In the same vein, Clutch found that if a company has less than 10 employees, only 29% of employees spend the majority of their time at their coworking office. This likely correlates somewhat with what we mentioned before: smaller companies are less likely to prioritize private office expenses, typically based on budget, need, and policy. It can certainly also have something to do with the job you’re in and whether or not the position supports remote work.
Schuh says “The majority of members use the space most days, but there are the smaller businesses that come in fewer days per week…our larger members are definitely here full-time, though.”
Now, another trend that may have an impact on the future of coworking is in relation to plans and contracts. Larger companies tend to stick with coworking spaces for at least a year. We speculate the reasons are both growth-related and budget-related. In a small company, month-to-month is often a great option as it offers flexibility. However, medium and larger companies frequently go with annual plans, which may be subsidized and offer a stable work environment for their employees.
For instance, TrustPilot, a well known review-gathering service and platform, is Enterprise Coworking’s largest member, with 72 out of 800 employees working at the Denver space. All Denver-area employees exclusively work out of Enterprise as it offers them both stability and flexibility. The company has a suite-plan (vs. a desk membership), meaning they can work anywhere they’d like in the office. They also recently signed a 5-year contract with the space, saying that they have no plans to move, even as they grow.
Contracts such as these support small to mid-sized businesses who are on the right track, growth-wise, and are looking to increase their footprint long-term.
The final trend we’ll discuss today is all about amenities. Coworking spaces aren’t just for working. They’re for playing, too!
Many coworking offices come with a wide array of services and perks. Clutch found that 39% of coworking spaces have recreation rooms, for example (Enterprise being included in that statistic). Game rooms like these can have a direct impact on job satisfaction and productivity, which can prevent burnout. Enterprise’s recreational room, for instance, provides pingpong tables, shuffleboard, and Xbox access and helps to reduce daily work-related stresses for many employees. Actually, according to Clutch, about 60% of coworking employees are more relaxed at home since they started working at a coworking office.
Office Assistant, Holly Emmons, attests to this by saying “Our team loves pingpong…people take breaks from their busy days to destress for a few minutes and get away from their desks, so it is great having these types of spaces throughout the building.”
Another amenity that’s taking the industry by storm is wellness programs, and it’s no wonder why. After all, having healthier customers means more activity in the coworking space (more frequent visits, consistent payments, less cancellations, etc.), which means more revenue for the coworking space.
So, what does all this mean for coworking in 2020? With larger companies committing themselves to specific services, we predict that the coworking model will continue to be near and dear to both businesses and employees in the future. In this competitive market, it’s highly likely that many spaces will also continue bring in new tactics and amenities to rival giants and small businesses-alike.
So, without further adieu, let the coworking space wars begin!