Long-held wisdom had been that offices were crucial for fostering productivity, culture, and the best of the talent. Now that the pandemic has changed the conventional attitudes towards the role of the office, businesses are recalibrating their workspaces in bold ways.
Of course, there is no one size fits all solution. The answer could look different across organizations. Yet when corporates think of workspaces, they are likely to focus on flexible spaces to reduce capital expenditure, boost productivity, create dynamic work culture, and regard employees’ health. Consequently, the market share of flex spaces against the total office space is expected to increase from the current 3.0% to 4.2% by 2023 (in India).
Our previous post shared how coworking spaces will dominate the future of work in 2022. In this post, we will bring across our insights on what awaits coworking spaces in the future.
While reverting to pre-pandemic practices could be tempting, it will be imperative for coworking players to adapt to the newly raised bar of hygiene, keeping the health interests of the tenants at heart.
Coworking spaces will have to establish and abide by more severe cleaning and disinfection regimens, including intensive cleanse, fogging, ionization, UV disinfection, nano-tech coatings, upgraded air purification systems, and temperature and air quality monitoring. The leading coworking players like The Address have already adopted them as part and parcel of their hygiene-conscious coworking culture.
Third spaces or the professional spaces between the office and home will be another long-term revolution for coworking spaces in the future. With remote work getting reclassified in the past couple of years, third spaces seem to fit well with hybrid remote working models.
Thus, the coworking operators are expected to prepare for a major influx of a new breed of employees: the hybrid workers, who want to work in the proximity to their homes and cut down on their commute yet wish to have access to a professional work environment. They need to have the best of both worlds — social interactions in the traditional office and comfort of home. Since their expectations from the coworking spaces are different from the remote-first workers, coworking operators will have to be geared up to optimize spaces to tap into this opportunity and evolve to meet their needs.
With technology taking over the world, how can we expect coworking spaces to remain untouched by the digital revolution? To stay relevant to the global workforce in the post-pandemic world, coworking spaces will undergo major technological transformation into dynamic, smart workspaces.
Advanced technologies such as machine learning, artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, and AR/VR that help improve members’ coworking experience will gain traction. The coworking industry will also see the increased implementation of automation for monitoring and asset management.
Moreover, the trend of technologies for contactless experience-automated doors, coffee machines, motion sensor taps, etc., is in play and will rise in coming years to help operators reduce the risk of cross-contamination.
Coworking spaces are one of the very few industries built on the foundation of sustainability because collective sharing of resources, which helps reduce a lot of waste and save significant amounts of energy, has always been a coworking trademark.
So, what’s next?
The trends of green spaces that do not hamper the environment and utilize eco-friendly technologies and renewable resources will make their presence felt in the future coworking industry.
Operators will incorporate sustainable practices into their standard features- recycled paper, rainwater harvesting, motion sensors, energy-efficient lights, natural cleaning agents, low-VOC paints and building materials, biophilia, reduced plastic usage, solar energy, and reused furniture, to name a few.
With new coworking spaces popping out like mushrooms after the rain every day, the competition is fierce, and the need to differentiate is indispensable.
Amidst this, operators must clearly demonstrate what makes them more valuable than their contemporaries. Plus, with additional services that cover the members’ personal and professional needs, the scope of creating new revenue streams is truly tremendous.
It will lead to the need for coworking spaces to be supremely innovative with their services and offerings. The coworking sector will soon start offering additional amenities and a la Carte products to members at a very competitive price right under one roof. Office cleaning, personal assistant, offset printing, snacks, and beverages, wardrobe stylist, pet groomer, baby sitters, gym, etc., are some of the out-of-the-box services coworking spaces are likely to provide their tenants in the future.
Real estate is buzzing with the new word- De-densify. Businesses that once fit as many employees as possible in traditional office set-ups are now trending away from jam-packed workplaces.
De-densification means cutting down office density by expanding floor space or rearranging layouts. The ultimate aim is to give employees the breathing room they need to function with safety and comfort. It solves social distancing problems and promotes a dynamic way of working.
To unlock their revenue potential, coworking spaces will have to keep up with these disruptive workspace design dynamics. Measures such as installing long working tables, effective partition, smart use of unoccupied spaces, desk dividers, one-way traffic systems, ventilation, etc., will help coworking operators strike a balance between cost optimization and tenants’ safety.
Coworking spaces, accounting for 12-15% of real estate absorption, are anticipated to touch the mark of 21% in the year 2023. One of the major influences behind this upsurge is mid to large-size companies shifting their focus from centralized offices to distributed workspaces. Even corporate biggies and MNCs are choosing flexible workspaces in lieu of traditional leasing to stay competitive and cost-effective.
Hence, despite the massive upheaval caused by the COVID-19 impact, the coworking industry’s future remains promising.
The swiftly growing trends and developments triggered by the pandemic herald the beginning of a new era for the coworking industry in the coming times. For the industry players who use this to break from the inertia of the “usual” and focus on staying relevant, the result will be a perfect win-win.