Coworking is having a moment. Investors are especially involved in the alternative workspace style, with SoftBank funding millions into coworking giant WeWork. As the flexible space model has expanded, operators are seeking out ways to set themselves apart from the competition. But how far can this trend stretch?
For example, Workbar offers retailers space in their offices, while KettleSpace transforms restaurants into coworking spaces during off hours. As the coworking paradigm shifts, the future of niche offices and space usage is up in the air.
Coworking falls under the same general commercial zoning categories as an independent business, so little infrastructure goes into transforming a space into a successful workspace.
Businesses can list their spaces for cheap and avoid dealing with changing structures when dealing with event rentals.
Coworking networks do not have to purchase leases to convert these spaces, so they’re able to offer more space for members at an affordable rate compared to traditional coworking spaces.
“Basically, the business model here checks a lot of the boxes for successful marketplaces: Acquisition and transaction friction is low for both customers and suppliers, with both seeing real value that didn’t exist previously,” according to techcrunch.com.
While this method is compelling, scalability is an issue with WeWork-like companies running the market right now. Although coworking spaces are competing for the same audience, operators such as Croissant are also competing with coffee shops and other workplace solutions.
Croissant offers spaces that are set in offices built specifically for coworking, so they can offer competitive rates. This type of environment is perfect for a person who is on-the-go and can work without traditional coworking amenities, but is also willing to work out of a space for a monthly membership as opposed to a free coffee shop.
The workforce is clearly moving to accommodate the needs of flexible, remote workers, but it is untelling if the location of these offices are dependent upon their success.
The trend of monetizing unused spaces through coworking may or may not have a positive impact on community, but regardless, expansion in this sector is inevitable.