With over 20,000 coworking spaces already established in countries around the world, the boom in coworking over the past decade can primarily be traced to urban centers.
Major cities like Bangalore, Berlin, and Melbourne, for example, have witnessed nearly 20% year-over-year growth since 2010—and despite the setbacks from COVID-19, show few signs of slowing down. It’s been said that London gains one new coworking space every five day, and in New York City, a new space pops up every week.
The big players like WeWork and Industrious have mostly honed in on urban hubs and major regional cities for expanding their operations. Initially, this strategy was designed to target the markets with the most companies and employees, but now, the way people work is rapidly changing.
In recent months, the outbreak of COVID-19 has forced business owners to reassess their flexibility policies and whether a central office is necessary or efficient. With the largest remote work experiment to date proving successful for most, employers are looking for simpler solutions that save costs, reduce commute times, and support good health.
In fact, experts are predicting that up to 30% of the global workforce will be working remotely multiple days a week by the end of 2021. This trend not only reinforces the importance of flexibility, but it also marks an emerging phenomenon: coworking is moving on from big cities and into the suburbs.
Since COVID-19 has slashed the number of people who commute to work, coworking operators and flexible office providers are likely to look outside of urban markets for new expansion projects.
Already, companies like Bizspace and IWG’s Regus have established flexible offerings in suburban areas. For instance, in addition to its five city-center workspaces in Dublin, Ireland, Regus also operates spaces in surrounding Irish suburbs like Blanchardstown, Foxrock, and Sandyford—neighborhoods that are all located within reach of the city center, but certainly outside of it and closer to where many Dubliners live with their families.
Clearly, this focus on the suburbs is not a new phenomenon, but is gearing up for rapid growth in a post-coronavirus environment. IWG’s UK Chief Executive Richard Morris told Bisnow he believes there will be a change in location preference for flex office customers.
“People want to work closer to home, in a dispersed way, and companies might not just want that big cluster in the middle,” Morris said in a statement.