- Shared offices, coworking spaces, and other types of flexible workspaces are fast becoming integral to work life.
- But beyond this, flexible workspaces are now contributing to the community in a variety of ways, from helping to reduce the carbon footprint of daily commutes, to driving local economic growth and supporting local charity initiatives.
- A report by Regus revealed that local economies stand to benefit from coworking spaces located outside of metropolitan areas.
Shared offices, coworking spaces, and other types of flexible workspaces are fast becoming integral to work life. The flexible workspace market is estimated to grow by 600% by 2030, and 30% of all office space will evolve to hybrid workspace in that same period, according to figures from IWG.
Meanwhile, a GCUC survey showed that 89% of respondents said that they are happier since joining a coworking space and 69% of coworking space members said they had learned new skills in a coworking space.
But, beyond their immediate benefits to the workers who use them, these flexible workspaces are increasingly contributing to community life as well. It’s something the industry can be incredibly proud of, and I predict it will become ever more important as we move through the next 12 months.
One area where flexible workspaces are making a really positive impact on the community is environmental. Many flexible workspaces now offer green services, such as EV charging stations, smart meters, LED lighting and motion sensors. Riverbridge House Business Centre, for instance, recently opened seven new public EV charge points for use by locals, not just workspace users.
Since most flex workspaces are closer to home, they can also significantly reduce the carbon footprint associated with daily commuting, as well as help their users save money on transportation costs.
By providing a usable, conveniently located space where local people can come together to collaborate and exchange ideas, flexible workspaces can encourage community groups — young and old — to come together. This can include hosting events, workshops, groups or seminars. For instance, ARC Club, a coworking space in East London, hosted one of Urban MBA’s employability courses in 2019. Since then, the space has collaborated with similar organizations, including the local non-profit Hackney Quest.
Often more characterful than hotel meeting rooms, these spaces are perfect for individuals who share similar interests and want to collaborate, including creative professionals, entrepreneurs who enjoy brainstorming, and start-ups seeking a flexible workspace. These areas often have amenities like meeting rooms equipped for hybrid collaboration, areas that encourage creativity, and event spaces that can be used for large and small functions.
Flexible workspaces are also having a transformative effect on local economies. A report by Regus highlighted that local economies stand to benefit from coworking spaces located outside of metropolitan areas. By providing affordable and accessible workspace, these spaces can attract entrepreneurs and small businesses, helping to create jobs and drive local economic growth.
As Regus concluded: “All of this allows neighborhoods to bolster their business scene, attract new investment and create the right conditions for communities to flourish.”
Flexible workspaces also help to grow small businesses and entrepreneurs by providing them with courses, training, networking opportunities, mentorship, internships and affordable workspace. This in turn helps to create jobs for the local community, and the businesses themselves can become valuable contributors to the local economy.
Local charity initiatives also stand to benefit as corporate social responsibility (CSR) moves higher up the list of a businesses’ priorities. For example, BE Offices have worked with many charities for a number of years and are proud to have donated over £1.5m to causes such as the Great City Race. They have also launched “Charity Days” for their team members to volunteer their time to local charities.
Meanwhile, Flexible workspace specialist x+why is going a step farther to launch a charity hub. The company recently joined up with Grosvenor and The Westminster Foundation to run and manage a flexible workspace and coworking community.
Flexible workspaces have come a long way since their inception as a mere alternative to traditional office spaces. They are now contributing to the community in a variety of ways, from helping to reduce the carbon footprint of daily commutes to driving local economic growth and supporting local charity initiatives. As the trend towards flexible workspaces continues, it is clear that they will continue to play an important role in both work and community life.