Office workers are changing the way they perform their everyday duties and that’s a fact. As the Internet and mobile devices are on the rise, the vision of telecommuting successfully grabs the imagination of Millennials. New technologies enable digital nomads to effectively work from any part of the world. The property market is also reacting to those changes, as shown by the emergence of co-working hubs and facilities that replace traditional hotels and apartments to rent. Those concepts were the topic of the fourth PLACES + SPACES meeting entitled “Tomorrow’s Urbanhoods”, organised on 11 September in Warsaw by the Urban Land Institute.
Labour market experts estimate that as many as half of office workers in the US and the UK will be working remotely in a few years. Those will include self-employed programmers, representatives of the creative industries, e-commerce specialists and translators. This trend can also be noticed in other European countries. “We’re witnessing the cult of the entrepreneur. Entrepreneurs have become icons on a par with pop, fashion and film stars,” says Daisy Onubogu, General Manager and VP Community at the co-living and co-working network Roam, one of the keynote speakers at the fourth edition of PLACES + SPACES. “But even while staying highly flexible at work, people want to be together and stay where there is life, fun and the opportunity to share knowledge and experience. This especially applies to employees who travel often. They don’t need to have many things but they want to have access to specific amenities. This is what makes places like Roam so popular,” Daisy Onubogu adds.
Another example of a dedicated place for travelling professionals was presented by Marc Jorgenius, Managing Director at Zoku, a hybrid of a hotel, office and a place to spend free time in Amsterdam. “Before we created Zoku, we talked to a few thousand potential users, getting to know their actual needs. That way we were able to create an incredibly functional space. In addition to over 130 lofts with an area of around 30 sq m each, our guests enjoy even up to ten times more living and working space compared to traditional forms of accommodation. They have access to a shared kitchen, a bar, a landscaped rooftop as well as a large co-working centre. Our guests, in particular those who choose our long-stay apartments, are practically becoming family,” says Marc Jorgenius. The results? Zoku is currently one of the top five highest-rated “unusual” places to stay in Amsterdam according to a user poll on the popular website TripAdvisor.
Furthermore, Edward Owen, Director of Real Estate, EMEA at WeWork, spoke to PLACES + SPACES participants about the profile of co-working space users across the world. “More than half of WeWork users are people aged 25-34. Contrary to the stereotypes, however, they are not only freelancers and startuppers. Major corporations use our locations just as much for some of their projects that require employee mobility, creativity and contact with other industries,” says Edward Owen. Interestingly, WeWork decided to enter the Polish market in 2018, with plans to open at as many as three locations across Warsaw.
As usual, PLACES + SPACES also included a debate between representatives of the Polish real estate market. Moderated by Richard Stephens, Founder and Chief Editor of Poland Today, the debate was held between Maciej Król, Chief Growth Officer w Business Link, as well as Jeroen van der Toolen, Managing Director CEE at Ghelamco, and Cezary Jarząbek, Founder and CEO Golub GetHouse. The speakers agreed that while co-working is becoming a real trend in Poland, as is the development of modern halls of residence, a boom in alternative live-work hybrid spaces is still a way off. This is due to both social and business factors, involved in adapting a project to the needs of the co-living operator or selling the building, to name a few examples. At the same time, some mixed-use projects developed or planned in Polish city centres have the potential to offer similar solutions in the future.
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