Ten years ago, most people didn’t know what a co-working space was. In 2005, the first official “co-working space” was opened in San Francisco. Fast-forward to 2017 when, according to Statista, there were 4,043 co-working spaces in the United States.
As one of the fastest-growing workplace movements of the last decade, the Oxford Dictionary defines co-working as, “the use of an office or other working environment by people who are self-employed or working for different employers, typically to share equipment, ideas, and knowledge.”
Think this is just a trend that’s going away? The number of co-working spaces in the U.S. is expected to increase to 6,219 by 2022. And that’s a conservative estimate. Co-working space is no longer a trend; it has become an integral transformation in the way we work.
So where will these thousands of new co-working spaces pop up? Everyone knows that real estate is all about location, location, location. The ideal location varies from person to person. Some co-working spaces are best suited in thriving metropolitan areas while others experience the same success in more suburban locations.
Rather than losing precious hours of time stuck in traffic commuting to the office every day, a co-working space offers people an office closer to home but with the benefits of being surrounded by like-minded professionals. Co-working spaces are much more than workspaces. They are places where members work, network, learn and socialize together.
A recent survey done by Emergency Research concluded that 84 percent of professionals working in a co-working environment said they were more engaged and motivated when co-working and 67 percent said co-working improved their professional success.
But before you run out to build a new commercial space, consider the option of renovating a vacant commercial space into a co-working solution.
With the number of vacant commercial properties, building owners and managers should be thinking outside of the box on what to do with their spaces. Why not turn a vacant commercial property (or just one floor of it) into a co-working space?
The owner has instant activity in their building and can build relationships with the tenants while becoming a resource to the tenant when their business has grown and they are looking for more space. Small businesses and entrepreneurs benefit by being offered furnished offices designed to best fit their work style, shorter leases, flexibility to grow and the chance to advance their business goals by working in a dynamic environment with like-minded people.
Converting a vacant commercial space into a shared co-working one takes an open mind and working with a trusted adviser. The benefits of a co-working space are plentiful and hard to ignore for entrepreneurs, small businesses and building owners alike. A co-working space immediately livens up an otherwise vacant building and transforms it to a dynamic business hub.
Now’s the time for building owners and managers to think beyond the traditional options when faced with vacant commercial property space. Transforming space in an existing building into a thriving co-working space is the ideal solution for owners and managers as well as entrepreneurs and small businesses.
Mike Kriel is chief executive officer of the co-working operations and management company Launch Workplaces.