Co-Working: The (Near) Future of Work?

Co-working has come a long way since, well, depending on your point of view — it’s either 1995 if you are looking at the advent of the co-working movement with independent workers/professionals, more specifically hackers, or 1962 if you are taking the serviced offices angle.



If you are interested in looking at the co-working timeline, deskmag created a 1995-2013 timeline here as an article, and as a visual timeline here (unfortunately the images that used to be there are missing now, but it’s still useful). You will find the 1962-2017 flexible workspace timeline created by allwork here.


Anyway, for the purpose of this blog post, we will focus on people coming together to co-work. If you’re still not sure what co-working means and how it got started, you can get it from Brad Neuberg, the man credited for coining the term.





According to estimates from deskmag’s Global Coworking Survey: The 2018 Coworking Forecast, 1.7 million people will be working in around 19,000 co-working spaces around the world by the end of 2018 compared to almost 1.3 million people in 15,500 co-working spaces the previous year.



deskmag’s forecast for 2018 is not too far from Statista’s projection of 18,900 co-working spaces based on its 2005-2017 data, signifying a 22.6% growth. Meanwhile, the GCUC (Global Coworking Unconference Conference) is a bit conservative on their forecast of 17,725 co-working spaces around the world by the end of the year, up from 14,411 in 2017. Percentage wise, the expected growth is almost the same at 23%.


However, in terms of co-working members, the GCUC forecasts a 32% increase from 1.7 million people in 2017 to 2.3 million by the end of 2018.





The GCUC also estimated that over USD 1 billion was invested in co-working in 2015. In the first 6 months of 2018, Index by TNW reported a total of USD 985.1 million investments in co-working companies. And in July alone, a number of co-working companies raised USD 568.5 million, with Temasek, Softbank, Trustbridge Partners, and Hony Capital investing USD 500 million in WeWork China.



Here are other announcements in recent months indicating a bullish market for co-working spaces:



International Workplace Group (IWG), the world’s leading provider of flexible workspaces, plans to open five new locations for its Spaces brand in Singapore by mid-2019, bringing its total co-working space area to 250,000 sq ft. It recently opened a 32,000 square-foot work hub in Bonifacio Global City in the Philippines, touted as the largest community space in the country.



The market for co-working spaces in Thailand is expected to grow 25% this year and take up 1.3 million square feet. The number of co-working space projects nationwide rose from four in 2012 to 132 in 2017. This number is projected to rise to 150 by the end of 2018.


Hong Kong and Mainland China

WeWork recently opened its 3rd workspace in Hong Kong spanning four stories and more than 1,000 desks, and will open a 4th later in the year. In September, WeWork will open co-working spaces in Chengdu and Shenzhen. The company also plans to expand in Wuhan, Guangzhou, Nanjing and Xi’an.



REth!nk, a new coworking brand focused on the real estate industry, announced the closing of USD 8mn funding and the acquisition of two buildings to house their first two locations as they launch a national network of spaces in the US.



New York-based real estate startup Convene intends to use its latest cash infusion of USD 152mn to expand the business both in the US and globally, according to CEO and co-founder Ryan Simonetti. Convene aims to increase its footprint from 582,000 square feet under management today to 700,000 square feet by the end of 2018, and 1.7 million square feet in 10 cities by the end of 2019.





All signs seem to point to an upward trajectory in all things co-working. Earlier in May, IWG published a report indicating that as much as 70% of employees worldwide work at least one day a week away from the office. More than 50% work remotely for half of the week or more, whilst 11% of people surveyed work outside of their company’s main office location five times a week.



So is co-working here to stay?


We think this CNBC Explains video presents a very strong argument that co-working is the future of work, well, at least for the near future.



Image Credits: From UnSplash – Helena Lopes, Kevin Bhagat, Vladimir Kudinov, and Sharon McCutcheon



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