Welcome to Monday’s with Martens. I’m Tom Johnson, President of NAI Martens, and I’m pleased to share with you another installment of our weekly informational update on the commercial real estate market.
As one of the fastest-growing workplace movements of the last decade, coworking enables people from diverse backgrounds to work together in a common space. The number of coworking spaces around the world has increased by nearly 700 percent since 2011. Today, a broad range of businesses – ranging from technology and professional service firms to consumer product companies – form a growing ecosystem that recognizes the value of flexibility, community and shared resources. Perhaps the most prominent and ambitious example is WeWork, the New York-based business that currently serves more than 50,000 members at 77 locations across North America and Europe. At the NAI Global Leadership Meetings in Dallas a few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to tour their downtown WeWork location. I have to admit it’s pretty impressive. Locally, The Labor Party was an early adopter followed by a location for Regus, the largest provider of flexible workspace solutions.
There seems to be something special about coworking spaces. People who belong to them report levels of thriving that approach an average of 6 on a 7-point scale. This is at least a point higher than the average for employees who do their jobs in regular offices.
People who use coworking spaces see their work as meaningful. Aside from the type of work they’re doing – freelancers choosing projects they care about, for example – people report finding meaning in the fact that they could bring their whole selves to work.
They have more job control . Coworking spaces are normally accessible 24/7. People can decide whether to put in a long day when they have a deadline or want to show progress, or can decide to take a long break in the middle of the day to go to the gym. They can choose whether they want to work in a quiet space so they can focus, or in a more collaborative space with shared tables where interaction is encouraged. They can even decide to work from home, without repercussion, if they need to meet a repairperson or deal with a family member need.
They feel part of a community. Connections with others are a big reason why people pay to work in a communal space, as opposed to working from home for free or renting a nondescript office. Each coworking space has its own vibe, and the managers of each space go to great lengths to cultivate a unique experience that meets the needs of their respective members.
So what are the implications for traditional companies? Even though the coworking movement has its origins among freelancers, entrepreneurs, and the tech industry, it’s increasingly relevant for a broader range of people and organizations. In fact, coworking can become part of a company’s strategy, and it can help their people and their business thrive. An increasing number of companies are incorporating coworking into their business strategies.
Tom Johnson, CRE
President of NAI Martens