A top London analyst warns that the competitive flexible office market may soon implode and lead companies to go bust.
Coworking firms take up long leases of unused office space, refurbish, then offer customers flexible leases.
WeWork, arguably the most well-known operator in the industry, has secured investments from Japan’s SoftBank Group that value the company at billions of dollars. Despite this, SoftBank has reportedly scaled back on its most recent investment round into WeWork as investors are second-guessing the market’s future.
“This is going to be the year that really tests the workspace-as-a-service model,” said Mat Oakley, head of European commercial research at Savills.“I think we will start to see some failures in that sector from this year.”
Oakley said that demand for flexible offices is still high, but some late bloomers are going to have trouble flourishing.
Each provider has little differentiation, so competitive pricing being the only selling point of some operators may be a bad sign.
Some attempts at reaching a broader audience, such as large corporations, have helped. Leni Zneimer, WeWork’s general manager for the UK and Ireland, said that Microsoft and HSBC have teams throughout WeWork’s offices.