The highlight of many coworking spaces are their flexible, short-term nature that allow businesses to scale up and down when needed. But this model could also be the industry’s downfall as coworking facilities worldwide are deserted due to the coronavirus, leaving many operators unable to pay rent.
Prior to the health crisis, coworking spaces were in an upward trajectory and expected to grow at an annual rate of 6% in the U.S. and 13% elsewhere.
In Africa in particular, 80% of coworking spaces came about in just the last five years as tech hubs rapidly appeared across the continent. With the unemployment issue worsening in urban centers, entrepreneurship and startups have blossomed.
Just as coworking spaces started thriving across Africa, the coronavirus has threatened to permanently damage the industry. While several facilities have suspended activities and on-site services for the time being, an opportunity for growth may be on the horizon.
“I believe that coworking spaces need to adjust and implement impressive measures to continue business and the business may take a positive turn,” said Neha Sahi, a property consultant at Pam Golding Properties Kenya.
For instance, shared workspace provider Ideas Cartel has launched the “Cartel Connect Online,” which is a digital platform that keeps members engaged and encourages the community building of being in a coworking space.
Additionally, companies looking for a temporary, short-term solution during times of crisis are likely to flock to coworking and flexible workspaces to avoid the high costs of traditional office leases.