According to Cushman & Wakefield, the pandemic has thrown coworking spaces into a distressing situation and some smaller market players are, in fact, finding it difficult to keep afloat. How will coworking spaces attract companies in the new post-pandemic reality? What will the flexible office of the future look like?
Various working patterns are likely to emerge post-pandemic. Some companies will certainly choose to return to offices. Other organisations will opt for remote working, with employees occasionally coming to the office. It is estimated that approximately 20 percent of employees will want to work in this way. The third and most popular choice will be working under a hybrid model combining in-office work and remote work, for example from home or a coworking space. What advantages of such spaces will be important to their users in the new reality?
During the pandemic, many employees have complained about the lack of social bonding. That’s why coworking spaces designed to create communities are likely to become even more attractive going forward.
“A functional fit-out, excellent coffee, space for conversations and social bonding and after-work drinks will all foster making connections and improve the coworking experience. For a coworking community to have the highest value, spaces should be leased to a variety of companies, both corporate clients and small start-ups. This will create an opportunity for experience sharing and networking,” says Aleksander Szybilski, Leader of Workplace Strategy, Associate Director, Office Department, Cushman & Wakefield.
A network of locations
The location of a head office can significantly affect the choice of a dominant work model. Worse-connected locations will be less favoured if work can be done without having to commute. It is location accessibility that is worth considering when looking for a niche for a strong network of coworking spaces.
“The winners will be coworking providers operating in multiple locations, both across individual cities and the whole country. It will certainly be very convenient and beneficial for companies with employees in various places to sign one contract with a provider of coworking space in many locations,” comments Dominika Kowalska, Associate Director, Workplace Strategy, Office Department, Cushman & Wakefield.
Coworking as a fringe benefit
Experts anticipate that in the future employers will be able to offer coworking cards to be used like Multisport cards, for instance.
“The market is already offering apps granting employees points to access for example conference rooms or all coworking spaces. This enables an analysis of the kinds of spaces favoured by employees. As listing all flexible offices in a single app may be time-consuming, it will probably be quite some time before such tools are developed. But this solution is definitely worth keeping an eye on,” says Dominika Kowalska, Associate Director, Workplace Strategy, Office Department, Cushman & Wakefield.
Driven by caution, small and medium-sized enterprises are likely to opt for coworking spaces rather than long office leases. Access to coworking spaces will be particularly important to companies in expansion mode and in need of larger spaces or moving from project to project and whose project teams increase in size from time to time.
“Companies that previously preferred to have an office of their own – however small it might have been – are now finding it more profitable to operate from coworking spaces. A big advantage of this option is the flexibility of office space upsizing and downsizing. When a company grows, there is no need to wait for a new architectural design or to adapt space. Coworking providers offer ready-to-occupy space that can be used according to one’s requirements and capabilities,” says Aleksander Szybilski, Leader of Workplace Strategy, Associate Director, Office Department, Cushman & Wakefield.
The pandemic is reshaping offices. Looking ahead, coworking spaces that will best adapt to the new reality will gain the upper hand. The current trend is to increase the allocation of square metres per person. As coworking spaces have to be profitable, it is not always a financially viable proposition. There will also be more demand for small rooms for working individually or in small groups. As frequent teleconferencing is very likely to stay with us, we will need more space for confidential conversations. The workspace will definitely remain important, but not the most important. Key factors will include managing a dispersed team and knowing how to communicate and when to have a virtual or face-to-face meeting. Decentralisation of companies is likely to continue.