We’re half past 2021, and it’ll be an understatement to say that it has been a tough year already. While new waves of the COVID-19 pandemic continue to swing the business industry, the need for a flexible work system is becoming more evident. This is exactly what’s opening doors to coworking space trends in 2022, because of the right balance of work-life, productivity, and flexibility – that sits perfectly with the new normal.
As per Statista, there were over 22,400 coworking spaces in the world at the end of 2019. As per the Coworking Resources, coworking spaces are supposed to have a yearly growth rate of over 21.3% from 2021 onwards. While many people define normal with familiarity or the usual, it is more to do with safety and wellbeing under the current settings. Companies big and small, around the world are adapting to adopt a more work-friendly, resilient strategy for their employees, which means the old ways of being on the lookout for leased office spaces to accommodate the majority of employees are no longer relevant.
2022 Ahead of Us …
The early days of 2020 were thought of as a major bummer for the coworking industry. But under the current scenario, better days are ahead. A hybrid workforce would move to and fro between home and office, and many corporate giants like Google, Amazon have taken heed to the same. 2022 office spaces will still exist, just that they’ll no more be restrained to the brick and mortar walls of their installation. They’ll also serve a new purpose to be seen as corporate ecosystems of innovation and establish professional relationships.
As per the global real estate giant, Cushman & Wakefield, these offices of tomorrow will be the epicenters of collaboration, flexibility, high functionality, and the wellbeing of the employees. They also estimate that most business owners would be embracing a workplace system that extends to offices, homes, coworking spaces, and even to places you visit on a vacation – in short, anywhere. The principle of such ‘agile workspaces’ would cause the extinction of private desks, making these more open, cautiously distanced from other workstations.
The Corporations Move-In
One of the bigger changes we’re seeing is more and more companies renting coworking space for their staff. This means more demand for meeting rooms, increased privacy, and other things that better suit larger companies over freelancers. Some cities (such as London) have minimum lease periods as high as 10 years, but the average lifespan of a company is shrinking and flexible working spaces have become the workaround. While most major cities have maybe 100–200 coworking spaces, London has well over 1000, and a vast amount of their space is occupied by companies trying to avoid buying a 10-year lease, to keep themselves safe from future crises.
As a coworking space developer, you need to be thinking more about this sort of client, but doing so in a way that doesn’t compromise your ability to handle freelancers and solopreneurs. Freelancers need coworking spaces more than ever, and you could be cutting out critical customers.
The Specialisation Revolution
As volume increases, more and more spaces are looking for something special to set them apart. A lot try to distinguish themselves with services, but that rarely seems to go anywhere—they’re all offering the same services.
What’s setting the new breed of co-working space apart is that it’s purpose-built for a particular group. One of the first types of space here were ones that only accept women; women are a relatively small number of coworkers as a percentage but it’s not for lack of interest or demand, it’s because they often found themselves getting talked over and minimized in coworking spaces like they are in so many offices. Spaces by women and for women have started sprouting up all over the world and seem to be doing very well.
Spaces for women, spaces for older people, spaces focussed around accessibility, spaces for specific professions with specific tools. Trying to be everything for everybody is fine, but the industry is reaching a saturation point where specialization is the way to stand out.
The International Option
The bigger franchises are running coworking passport programs that let their users access any space under their umbrella. For digital nomads and other frequent travelers, this sort of service is huge. Not every employee is going to take up the offer, but enough so that it can be an incredibly valuable proposition for flexible space owners.
If you only own a single space, it might be a good idea to try and get in touch with other solo spaces and set up some sort of network—if you’re in LA, a coworking space in NYC is hardly going to be poaching your customers, but for the staff who do travel cross country for work, having somewhere to set up in both destinations could be a game-changer.
Less Cool, More Good
One of the issues coworking spaces had from day 1 was that they wanted to seem funky and hip and down with the kids. Most coworking members seem to regard this as a waste of time at best, or active distractions at worst. We’ve seen the inside of a lot of coworking spaces, and we’ve seen a lot of foosball tables, though hardly anyone is ever seen playing foosball on these.
What staff want aren’t flashy things that seem fun, what they want are things that are going to make their lives and their jobs easier. They want fast internet, free printing, and comfortable chairs. It seems a bit silly to have to tell people, but the way to excel is to focus on the fundamentals. Ask why people are using these spaces, and build to accommodate them. If they wanted air hockey, they’d go to a terrible sports bar; try to be good at being a coworking space, instead of being mediocre at being an arcade.
There are other side services you might want to consider, but it’s things like daycares—things not everybody will use, but that are critical for certain clients to have onsite if they’re going to work with you. Nobody ever shook their head and said “it’s great but there’s no foosball, so it’s not going to work”—consider what lacking something like the daycare is going to do to your bottom line.
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… and Beyond!
The truth is somewhere in the middle—the industry just went through a bit of messy puberty, to being one of the fastest evolving and adapting areas as the mass perception towards work changed overnight. The time of explosive growth is over, but things are now more mature, and hopefully more stable.
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What this means for flexible space owners is just to be sensible. The early years were characterized by a lot of wild swings, and we mostly just saw the ones that ended in home runs while ignoring the ones that went nowhere fast. That’s normal for any new industry, but now it’s the time for us to reassess, and work smarter, and take this thing into the future. In case you were looking for such advanced, safe coworking spaces to work, the following recommendations may just be right:
- Pin For Cowork, Delhi
A perfect hub for entrepreneurs, freelancers, startup owners, and corporates – they are an upscale coworking space located across New and Old Delhi. Their aesthetically pleasing interiors, diverse range of amenities, and convenient location make them apt for hosting a large workforce.
- Zioks, Kolkata
They’re among the most unique workspaces located in Sector V, Kolkata with creative, smart workstations and facilities, exclusive to the work requirements of every professional. They bring innovation and productivity in a lavish manner extending profusely over their numerous amenities and space design.
- BSQUARE, Ahmedabad
Located in the ‘Manchester’ of India, they are a leader in providing top-end office solutions to the business workforce. Among their countless services, they also deliver virtual office facilities to their clients.