Just five years ago, there were just 7,805 coworking spaces on the whole planet. A year later in 2016, that number quickly grew to 11,100. In 2020, it has ballooned to 20,555 and counting. Given this rapid growth rate CoWorkingResources predicts that this number could reach 26,000 by the time 2022 comes around. Today all major cities have embraced this new work setup with London having many coworking spaces dotted around the city. The reasons for this are simple: compared to the traditional office, the modern coworking space is a more affordable, customisable, and practical workspace model that caters to everyone —from freelancers and SMEs to some of the largest multinational corporations in the world. Arguably, the main ingredient of the global coworking success equation is how the concept allows individuals and organisations to be more flexible with how they manage available resources.
Flexibility Is Capital
One of the biggest ways coworking is changing the world is how it’s allowing small and medium enterprises to be more flexible with utilising workspaces. Whereas in the past, SMEs would be bound to one to five-year long contracts for renting out physical office space, the coworking model has flipped the game. In fact, coworking spaces are typically secured through month-to-month memberships or similarly non-committal usage terms, which Industrious sees as a way for businesses to be much more flexible when responding to shifting industry needs. Rather than having to plan out a five-year budget just for rent, which takes a huge cut of available capital, SMEs can opt for months-long renting arrangements —all while also getting to customise the amount of office space they occupy. This level of flexibility affords startups and struggling businesses more on-hand capital, which can be delegated towards other practical ways for sustaining or growing the business. Small wonder that now-gargantuan brands like Instagram, Uber, and Spotify all started out as small teams operating out of coworking spaces. There’s no doubt that the flexibility afforded to these IT developers through coworking arrangements played a part in how they managed to properly scale into the IT giants they are today. And just as struggling disruptive startups can now have prime office locations for a quarter of the price, so can thriving multinationals better scale operations via custom coworking contracts. Effectively terminating ties with WeWork, Google signed up with coworking firm IWG Plc back in 2019 for a multiyear deal that gives the tech giant around 24,000 square feet or two floors of office space at IWG Space’s Royal Bank Plaza location. Located at the heart of Toronto, it coincides well with Google’s plans to expand in the busy Canadian city. And as Google better establishes roots in its new Toronto location, IWG Plc —which has already captured around 32% of the local coworking marketshare— is bound to continue growing.
To say that coworking spaces are a hub for networking would be an understatement. As more and more enterprising individuals are drawn to the coworking office, each new person, skill set, brand, product, company, or technology that’s brought to the shared table represents an opportunity not just for networking, but for collaboration. Compared to the traditional office, coworking spaces are much more conducive for finding like-minded entrepreneurs, industry peer-mentors, tech disruptors, and anyone who wants to either change the world or stake their claim in it. All of this is already brewing in today’s packed coworking offices. And as the concept continues to expand and evolve into a variety of Workplace-as-a-Service models, more collaborative opportunities will follow. Any business that wants to rule the world using the coworking model just needs to reach out and grab these growth opportunities. As Think Natalia founder Dr. Natalia Wiechowski advises companies struggling with disruptive technologies, “Focus on the Human Factor! As much as we live in a technologically advanced world, there are certain things that technologically will never replace.”