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Steven Forrest

Customer Care

Will Co-working Spaces Still Be Worth It?

As the world slowly adjusts to a post-pandemic society, the relevance of co-working spaces is being put to the test

Published: Wednesday, August 19, 2020 - 12:03

The ongoing pandemic will likely change, if not completely alter, many aspects of our daily lives. One facet that will significantly change is the way we work. After months of being in lockdown, the massive shift to working from home has proven to be effective in helping employees stay productive. This led a lot of companies—including those that were initially suspicious about it—to seriously consider remote working as a viable and legitimate work arrangement.

Of course, a change as big as this will likely affect other industries, especially co-working spaces. Before the pandemic hit, the co-working industry was booming. In fact, an article by Small Biz Genius highlights how there were nearly 19,000 co-working spaces worldwide in 2019, with the United States housing more than 80 million square feet of flexible workspace. Unfortunately, even this flourishing industry wasn’t safe from the onslaught of pandemic-related challenges that led many to stay away from spaces that gather crowds. According to a study cited by Business Wire, the global co-working spaces market is expected to decline from $9.27 billion in 2019 to $8.24 billion in 2020 at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of –12.9 percent.

As the world slowly adjusts to a post-pandemic society, the relevance of co-working spaces is being put to the test. After all, the past months effectively made working from home commonplace and encouraged many professionals to set up a dedicated working space inside their homes. Considering this new reality, would it still be worthwhile for companies to deem co-working spaces as good options, or would it be best to have workers simply work from home instead? In order to determine whether co-working spaces will still be worth it, let’s take a look at some of the advantages co-working spaces offer.

Better opportunities for centralized communication

Aside from being a tad bit more affordable than renting or buying an office space, a lot of businesses took out memberships to co-working spaces for their employees to have a place to meet up regularly. This was mostly because the advantages of face-to-face meetings are undeniable. Such meetings not only allow for clear communication of goals and objectives, but also strengthen bonds and relationships. Team members are more likely to be productive and focused.

Thankfully, well before the outbreak, technology had advanced to a point where professionals were able to successfully discuss and manage projects completely remotely. Project management has become centralized through the adoption of cloud technology. Employees are able to share, store, and organize different files on secure servers, allowing access from any device anywhere in the world. As showcased by most employees in the past few months, with the help of technology, physical spaces are no longer a requirement for meaningful and productive meetings and project management. In addition to this, with many people now getting used to avoiding large gatherings or places with lots of people, this seems to be the direction in which work across the world is heading.

Yet, while these project management platforms have helped people collaborate as if they were in a co-working space, as mentioned above, they can’t completely replace face-to-face teamwork. When co-working spaces come back, we can expect a new balance between working in the cloud and working in physical locations that takes advantage of both outlets.

Allows for flexible hours and costs

Renting a traditional commercial office space can take up a big portion of a business’s budget. This reality makes co-working spaces ideal for startup entrepreneurs who are looking for a professional workspace without the high up-front costs and long-term commitment. With co-working spaces usually treated like a club-membership where spaces are rented by the month, The Balance notes that accommodating additional employees can be as easy as adding memberships for budding businesses.

The reduced costs of purchasing properties due to plummeting interest rates makes it all the more important for companies to weigh up and compare the benefits of leasing a co-working space vs. buying or renting an office. Today, the current average cost for office space by the square foot in the United States is between $8 and $23. Although there is no standard square footage per employee, a lot of experts recommend dedicating at least 75 sq ft per worker. If you have, say, five employees, that means you would need an office space that is at least 375 sq ft. Through a simple computation, you can expect your rent to range from $3,000 to $8,625 per month.

According to DeskMag, the average monthly cost for a dedicated desk per person in the United States is $387, while the average monthly cost for a hot (or shared) desk per person is $195. This means that getting a dedicated desk in a co-working space for five employees could cost $1,935 a month, while a hot desk for each can lead to a total monthly cost of $975. While cost is definitely something you should think about, it is also important to note that there are other factors that you should consider. The location, perks, and amenities each option offers, and the safety measures in place are only some of the things you should examine.

Provides many amenities depending on your needs

Shared office spaces usually appeal to young creatives who work from home or have flexible hours due to the professional environment, and who want strong Wi-Fi and free coffee. But there are some co-working spaces that interest certain demographics by catering to their specific needs. For instance, one of The Wing’s New York branches targets working moms by including more than just the typical amenities of printers, coffee makers, and desks. It also has a specific room that offers babysitting, open play, enrichment classes, workshops for participating members, and parent support groups.

Another co-working space that provides day-care services is Big & Tiny in California. This co-working space has a “Preschool Prep” option with experienced educators and enrichment classes in programs like science, music, and children’s yoga. It’s unlikely that your local co-working space will come equipped with all of these functions, but securing the amenities you need is certainly not impossible. All you need to do is conduct a thorough search and see which one best suits your needs.

Promotes productivity and helps combat loneliness

As of the moment, no study has yet compared the level of productivity of employees working at home to that of those who prefer working in co-working spaces. And it’s easy to understand why: Productivity is a highly subjective concept that depends on a multitude of things. Others might find themselves able to accomplish more tasks when they are surrounded by other workers, while some are more productive working in a familiar and comfortable space.

One growing threat to productivity that is common among remote workers, however, is isolation. A post by HP on remote work describes it as one of the biggest challenges, which can interfere with one’s physical and psychological health. Combating loneliness should be prioritized by companies because it directly affects work performance.

For instance, sleep deprivation can weaken one’s immune system, resulting in many missed days of work due to illness. Workers might also feel disconnected from their co-workers and the company as a whole, which can be a reason for lack of motivation. This is where co-working spaces have the advantage over working from home, given the presence of other like-minded individuals in the same physical location. In fact, studies have shown them to be effective in alleviating the loneliness that comes from working alone. A study by Harvard Business Review found that of all the surveyed participants, 83 percent reported being less lonely, and 89 percent said they are happier after joining a co-working space.

Self-isolation can feel just as it’s called: isolating, but it doesn't have to be. The key is to focus on your relationships, and make it a point to interact with your family and friends on a daily basis. From a management standpoint, make it a habit to host video or voice calls in place of face-to-face meetings. Chat up employees regularly with topics outside of work to continue nurturing relationships. Even short exchanges of pleasantries in the morning before work begins can make a huge difference. Communicating with other people is essential to combating the loneliness that comes with being a remote worker.

Like many other things in life, the worth of co-working spaces will highly depend on the factors and strategies that concern your business. Such factors will likely include your location, budget, the kind of business you have, and the number of your employees. As the economy slowly reopens and businesses are once again allowed to fully operate, remember to consider these factors as well as different safety concerns before deciding whether you should continue your business remotely, in a co-working space, or in an office space. For more tips on how to keep your business flourishing, check out the these articles related to efficient business operations.

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About The Author

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Steven Forrest

Steven Forrest is a freelance writer who has been a remote worker for over 5 years. Not only does he work freelance, he likes to provide articles and tips on the freelancing industry. In his free time he loves to play chess.