Over the past number of years, coworking popularity has grown significantly, with double-digit growth seen by major cities across the globe. This was the case before the pandemic hit in 2020 and further increased demand for flexible workspaces. We’re naturally sociable creatures, so it’s not surprising how popular coworking spaces have become. The chance to get your head down in an inspiring environment, with the freedom to work where and how you like – and maybe make a new friend at work on any given day – who wouldn’t want that? Coworkers found that this relatively new work model also improved their mental health, productivity and networking abilities. But we’ve already talked in-depth about the advantages of coworking, so you can check that article out afterwards.
For now, we’re going to look at the rise of coworking spaces – with a focus on those in Greater London – and to explain why coworking is seeing such a big demand.
Positively, while Central London was the epicentre for coworking in the past, places are popping up all the time in the outskirts of London, significantly reducing commutes and providing increased accessibility. Using local coworking spaces is way safer than risking public transport to make it into the city centre every day. Reducing commuting times was always popular, but it’s more relevant now than ever before. At a time like this, companies are also re-evaluating their expenditure – and realising just how much can be saved by shedding expensive offices and long-term leases in favour of flexible workspaces. It just makes sense; from both a practical and financial point of view. Let’s take a deeper look at where this demand stems from.
Last year has revealed just how in-demand coworking was pre-COVID, so let’s take a look at what 2019 can tell us:
And then we get to COVID. Many businesses have offered or have been required to implement Work From Home (WFH) or remote working schemes for a while now, and have faced some resistance from workers returning to offices. They quite like this newfound flexibility, safety, and not having to commute. There are definite benefits – we get that! But on the flip side, not everyone finds they’re happy being so isolated and coworking provides a lovely solution to that – a middle ground if you will. Reports taking into account the dip during lockdown and subsequent demand, still suggest that we are on track for the 200-300% growth forecast in coworking and flexible workspaces over the next few years. Big corporate offices may well become a thing of the past.
You’re still able to work remotely while working in a coworking space; the flexibility is a rather empowering thing. Staff are given the freedom to work in accordance with their schedules and deadlines, but also to gauge and restore their productivity levels when they feel them dipping. It’s a whole new working experience, with a range of positive results for both the company and its employees.
Companies like Areaworks have established coworking spaces in several areas of London, to give people options and increased flexibility. We have made roots in four key areas (for the moment, watch this space!) which are based in Colindale, Farringdon, Hackney and Stratford. With a base in central London for those who need it and several more spaces spread out across London; we’re trying to make things easier for everyone!
While central London has undoubtedly seen a massive increase in coworking offices over the past several years, the benefits of established coworking areas outside that main hub were highlighted with the current COVID crisis. From the risks associated with commuting to the rather constant downscaling of offices across the globe, COVID-safe coworking communities seem to have been that missing puzzle piece and a great solution for many.
1. Lower Overheads
Central London is known for its sky-high prices, so it would follow that renting office space isn’t cheap either. Coworking spaces are undoubtedly cheaper than long-term leases in the centre, but renting out flexible office space in Greater London is even more cost-effective and helps with computing times (as many of your workforce are unlikely to live in central London). With the flexibility of coworking companies, you can rent the spaces nearest your employees to reduce your rental overheads and their commutes. You’ll be happier; your employees will be happier – it’s a win-win situation!
2. Clean as a Whistle
With rigorous new cleaning schedules and strict spatial requirements, closing office spaces seems in some ways easier than accommodating these new working conditions and the expense that comes with implementing them. But the requirements can’t be ignored. On the other hand, coworking spaces tend to be spacious by nature and allow for social distancing while covering the cost of increased cleaning, signage and organisation of traffic flows. This takes the headache away for many business owners and enables employees to work in safe, inspiring environments. We can take some of the stress away and cover the safety policies and procedures so you can focus on the work at hand.
3. Commuting Solved
Having offices in areas that people can access easily, regardless of where they commute from, helps slash that commuting time. Thankfully, this also means the risk of your staff contracting and spreading the virus through daily commutes is significantly lower. The reason we have multiple, interconnected offices is that it allows staff to visit their nearest workspace. Not only will people arrive quicker to work – but they also arrive far less stressed than they would have if they had to contend with rush hour amidst COVID fears. Another win for everyone!
4. Motivated Employees
Everyone wants to boost productivity and increase workplace satisfaction, but it’s a costly investment, particularly if you want it done right. The good news is that 84% of people who use coworking spaces report being more engaged and motivated in their work, while 89% say they are happier when coworking. This is really positive. So the question is if you knew the vast majority of your team would be happier and perform better at work why wouldn’t you move to a coworking space?
We have previously gone into how businesses – big and small – can benefit from coworking spaces, so we’ll only touch upon those points briefly here. But it is worth repeating because the draws of coworking make such economic sense within a normal economy – and even more so in this uncertain climate.
Not only do coworking offices drastically reduce rents, but they provide a fully kitted-out office; furniture, equipment and supplies. Insurance is covered; electricity, water and internet bills are covered; IT support and maintenance is provided. And to top it all off, these are COVID-safe workspaces that remove all administrative hassle.
The popularity of coworking and constant demand for more spaces is not surprising in light of all its benefits. And more and more companies are realising its potential. Coworking spaces are set to grow vastly within London and its surrounds, and within Europe as a whole. With multiple companies and freelancers alike renting offices, meeting rooms and hotdesks, the demand drives down prices so that they remain significantly lower than the cost of renting an entire office to house your staff.