By Meghan Hall
Employees desire flexibility, and the ability to work anywhere, at any time, is a huge draw for workers as they pursue their careers. With this in mind, and with the advent of technology that has allowed workers to pursue positions that are away from the office, co-working has become a hot button topic in the commercial real estate industry. Co-working operators, who provide an office for those who sometimes need a break from the monotony of working at home, have grown quickly beyond regional presences to national—or even global—firms, leasing or buying property around the world. To date, there are more than 19,000 coworking spaces worldwide, according to Clutch, a data-driven business-to-business firm that studies hiring decisions. Clutch’s U.S. survey also recently found that vast majority of folks are happy in these coworking spaces.
According to Clutch’s Senior Content Writer, Kristen Herhold, the decision to evaluate satisfaction within coworking spaces simply grew from a lack of available data.
“Coworking has become a very trendy topic in the working world,” explained Herhold. “But with the recent WeWork drama, we wanted to see how people feel about working in a coworking space. There is a lot of data about the number of coworking spaces and the people in them, but there isn’t a lot available about if people enjoy working in one.”
Clutch found that an impressive 77 percent of respondents were happy with their coworking spaces, with just 11 percent dissatisfied. 12 percent of interviewees stated they neither satisfied nor dissatisfied.
“Coworking is likely here to stay and isn’t just a fad,” Herhold continued. “This changes the landscape of the CRE industry as a whole because many companies that would normally use a traditional office space may opt in to a coworking space instead.”
The reasons as to why the majority people responded that they were satisfied with their coworking arrangement were many. According to Clutch, coworking often provides many opportunities for networking and learning that traditional office leases do not.
“Coworking spaces provide many benefits that traditional offices do not, and businesses of all sizes can have happy employees in a coworking space,” added Herhold.
These benefits are both tangible—like in-house snacks or coffee—and intangible—such as lectures, games and a sense of community.
57 percent of interviewees shared that their coworking spaces were in a convenient location close to home, with 49 percent of employees stating that being close to their residence is the most important factor of an office location, more so that restaurants, retailers and entertainment.
53 percent of employees stated that for them, one of the most important aspects of coworking was for flexibility; varied office spaces and layouts not only provide different work environments, but room for growing companies whose space needs change on a quicker basis.
However, another key aspect for employees is the sense of community one gains from a coworking space. 51 percent stated that their shared office space provided a sense of community, which in turn increase moral and bolster the quality of employees’ work. Conversely, Clutch notes that 21 percent of employees add that loneliness is the largest struggle they face with remote work.
Part of this loneliness is mitigated through the ability to interact with not just other employees, but other businesses in the co-working environment. 55 percent of people in a coworking space have networked with others in their shared office, something that can contribute to both individual and entrepreneurial advancement as employees leverage one another’s skills and talents.
However, Herhold notes that the number surprised those at Clutch, who had assumed that due to a want for interactions in the workplace, the number would be higher.
“It surprised me that just 55% of respondents say their coworking space offers networking opportunities,” said Herhold. “I thought the number would be much higher. People are likely interacting with other companies throughout the day, so it would only make sense to expand your network and connect with them.”
Other popular perks include more tangible goods. Clutch found that 71 percent of coworking spaces identified in the survey serve coffee and tea, 56 percent provide snacks or meals and 39 percent provide sit-stand desks. 30 percent provide games, while 26 percent of co-working spaces offer exercise facilities or pet-friendly amenities.
These perks are valuable to employees, and will continue to boost co-working’s place in the commercial real estate industry moving forward, states Clutch. How smaller co-working operators will continue to evolve as demand for co-working space increases is unclear to many, although Herhold believes they will have a larger place in the industry.
“I think smaller, local coworking spaces will continue to grow in 2020 as some of the larger ones, especially WeWork, face problems,” noted Herhold. “I think companies will be more interested in working at a coworking space with local ties rather than at a national or international coworking company, especially after all the negative press WeWork has received recently.”