The Co-working Concept, Issue 80

Co-working space came to mean the notorious We Work model. When I had been asked to opine on co-working I tried to steer the conversation away from the Adam Neumann / Softbank  flimflam growth model. Instead, I suggested that property owners look at usage and users. While I doubted We Work’s ability to survive I was confident in the co-working concept.

I based this confidence on the number of people that had already adopted co-working, pre-covid. I suggested that even if We Work or Regus ceased operating, their clients would show up at the door looking to get to their desks. To mitigate the risk associated with leases to shared space operators, I suggested developing a plan to take over operations from We Work and others if and when necessary. I also thought that the right people to do that would come from the hospitality industry. 

Well, We Work filed for bankruptcy. And, Regus filed for creditor protection. Regardless, the Post-covid period has been a time of quiet but historic growth in the office-share world. Hybrid and co-working arrangements are now common and have become much more permanent. Increasing numbers of remote workers are pitching-up in shared office spaces invading the previously exclusive domain of entrepreneurs and freelancers. 

What are the users looking for? 

Importantly, the space is located where the users are. That may mean inner city residential communities and tree-lined suburban neighbourhoods, not only in established business districts. Shorter commute times attract client-workers. Good public transit to the central business district is a bonus. 

A great co-working space: 

  • Sets the right work atmosphere, so cut the music. Don’t let the space become party central.
  • Has the right scale, lots of natural light, accessibility, transport links, and a good neighbourhood. 
  • Makes basic office essentials available – a shop for pencils, pens, magazines and newspapers
  • Provides good working space and robust wifi – it has to be an upgrade from the kitchen table home office. 
  • Avoids the kitchy  – no inspirational quotes on the walls but plants are nice.

Courtesy of  Monocle’s The Entrepreneurs, Issue 07, 2023

Looking for inspiration – check out New York-based Industrious Office or London’s Pavilion Kensington. If you favour a hospitality-lead approach consider Singapore’s The Great Room. Also, a number of hotel chains host co-working spaces. 

So, you may think that the We Work bankruptcy is the harbinger of tougher times for co-working space. I don’t think it is. I continue to believe in the flourishing co-worker concept.

The Co-working Concept, Issue 80

January 22, 2024

Co-working space came to mean the notorious We Work model. When I had been asked to opine on co-working I tried to steer the conversation away from the Adam Neumann / Softbank  flimflam growth model. Instead, I suggested that property owners look at usage and users. While I doubted We Work’s ability to survive I […]

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