Will Co-Working Continue if WeWork Doesn’t?
If you’ve been following business news at all lately, you’ve surely heard about the troubles surrounding WeWork. The multinational co-working space company was on the verge of an initial public offering a mere weeks ago, until word of mismanaged funds got out, eventually leading not only to the cancelation of the IPO but also to the ouster of CEO Adam Neumann. In the wake of this shakeup, some small businesses and solo workers may be wondering what the future looks like for co-working spaces. The answer it seems is localization.
According to a survey by the business tool reviews platform Clutch, it’s true that WeWork is still the leading option among co-working employees. However, while 39% reported using WeWork, 36% said they used local co-working spaces instead. Meanwhile the expansion of such spaces is expected to continue with estimates suggesting there could be 26,000 locations worldwide by 2022 compared to 18,000 today. Interestingly, back in 2015, there were only 8,000 co-working spaces.
Offering his insight into what’s ahead, marketing specialist for Focus Property Group (which owns Denver’s Enterprise Coworking) Andrew Schuh told Clutch, “I think the smaller, local coworking spaces will overtake WeWork. You can’t stop that kind of momentum [that coworking spaces have].” Schuh went on to note the benefit that smaller co-working spaces have, saying, “Being local and involved in local events and forming partnerships with local businesses has really helped us. We have a local touch that WeWork doesn’t have.”
One aspect that could complicate matters is that co-working employees have shown great loyalty to their spaces. Clutch found that 75% of co-working businesses have been in their current locations for over a year, with 18% staying put for more than five years. On the other hand it’s also worth noting that only 22% of those surveyed said they rely on co-working facilities as their only workspace. Instead the majority said they also work out of traditional offices, from remote locations, and on-site from other locations.
Regardless of what ultimately happens with WeWork, it seems that the revolution they helped to foster will go on without it. Moreover, while the flexibility that WeWork offered may have been great for travelers, there is something to be said about the “local touch” (as Schuh put it) that smaller chains and one-offs can offer. So whether you’re a solopreneur or a small business owner, don’t let WeWork’s issues lead you to rule out co-working options for yourself.