Coworking is here to stay & make a difference
From being the phenomenon that will change the face of workplaces to an over inflated venture capital fueled bubble to the death knell of conventional real estate to sheer lunacy, the last decade has seen the coworking industry assume all of these titles and then some. The variety of perspective is stunning; almost as stunning as the sheer impact this ‘new’ commercial real estate model has wrought on how we work today and how we plan to work in the future.
The industry isn’t exactly new, having its genesis with men like Alf Moufarrige in 1978 and Mark Dixon in 1989. These were the men that laid the groundwork for Adam Neumann to start his coworking revolution in 2010 almost three decades later. But then as startup old timers are fond of say¬ing “overnight success takes a couple of decades to build”.
That a lasting change has been made is undisputable. Let’s start by accepting that this is not a phase, a fad or a bubble. A single statistic 13 million Indians expected to be working out of coworking spaces by 2020 says that with authority. The second and deeper consequence is that coworking spaces have changed the average office goer’s expectations from a workspace dramatically and forever. That’s perhaps why Coworking spaces grew by more than 300 percent in India’s top three cities in 2018 over 2017. The next 30 cities are now rushing to catch up.
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The biggest companies in the world today including Microsoft and Google have significant numbers working out of co-working
Having started as spaces for startups, solopreneurs and freelancers coworking today sees more than 85 percent occupancy from larger to mammoth organizations. The biggest companies in the world today including Microsoft and Google have significant numbers working out of coworking. Nor are conventional corporates far behind, banks, petroleum companies, tech majors, auto, all are coworking customers. It’s not just the ‘cool factor’ the economics make tremendous sense as well.
This is just the tip of the iceberg however, there’s a whole lot more to come. On one hand coworking is driving the democratization of business district concepts, on the other it is morphing and adapting to translate unmet needs of business.
One of the big future trends will be specialized niche spaces. imagine coworking spaces only for females, for developers and coders, coworking spaces especially for writers and so on.
Such coworking spaces would be designed to have all the facilities that a professional in that niche might need and would be marketed in a more targeted manner. These niche coworking spaces will create strong, specialised communities that could evolve into market places over time.
Another key trend to look out and plan for is multi-utility spaces. We are already seeing hospitality cum coworking as well as spaces that become lounge bars and events areas on call. Global early adapters are already talking of integrating Vertical Farming into newer coworking spaces.
All of this will have tremendous impact on design and design perspectives as a whole. Each segment will look for specialist design elements that cater to its specific needs from flooring to sound proofing to decor to gym and food facilities. What most will definitely demand however is a change towards greater green consciousness energy efficiency and conservation. Time to adapt and leverage upcoming opportunities.