The National Real Estate Investor recently published an article asking, “Will Coworking Erode Demand for Office Space?” This is a key question as coworking gains momentum.
Officing Today set out to get thought leaders to chime in on the topic.
Here’s the blurb from National Real Estate Investor: “Coworking – the latest trend in workplace strategies – could be the catalyst that shakes up the staid office market. The tradition of ‘one worker, one desk’ may soon be a thing of the past. Companies across industries are eliminating offices, private work stations and cubicles in favor of team-oriented and shared workspaces.”
We asked Kevin Kuske, general manager and chief anthropologist at turnstone, a Steelcase brand that helps small and emerging companies create great workplaces, for his take on the topic. He told us he thinks the article rightly identified the breaking of the ‘one worker, one desk’ paradigm.
“This is actually something we recommend strongly in our designs,” he says. “It allows you to dedicate more space to different types of creative ‘we’ work and creates spaces that have more density and buzz.”
But that’s not the whole story.
Kuske asks and answers a larger question: Is this a result of coworking or is it an independent trend that is affecting all office space? He argues for the second scenario.
“This is just one of many powerful changes on how we work being driven by mobility. Once we are truly mobile in how we work, what we look for is a network of places to work,” Kuske says. “Each place chosen because it supports the types of work we need to do at that moment the best. Movement from ‘perch’ to ‘perch’ throughout the day also promotes more wellbeing, even these small movements and changes in postures can have a big impact on health and wellbeing.”
As Kuske sees it, in its early years coworking has mainly served to find new purpose to idle real estate and to help give people who work out of a traditional office a place to be part of a community and a culture. A place to network, barter and share ideas, coworking has been a very healthy concept for independent workers and isolated corporate workers.
As for the biggest question of all – will coworking erode traditional office space rentals? – Kuske says it will if traditional office space rental planners don’t respond to the changes in how people are working.
“We have moved into an age of what we call ‘networked’ work. The dominant way to add value is through creative work and creative work requires people to intersect with people and information,” he says. “The design of office space rentals needs to be influenced by these changes in work and support creative ‘we’ work as much as it supports heads down ‘I’ work.”
More to come in our next article installment. We hope you will tune in.
Thanks to myturnstone.com for the accompanying image.