We’ve seen the coworking sector take massive leaps over the past decade, going from a relatively niche idea to a global mainstay industry worth an estimated $8 billion. And although growth slowed in 2020 and 2021 as a result of the pandemic, 2022 looks likely to be the year that coworking continues on its upwards trajectory.
One of the greatest strengths of the coworking sector, and also one of the key factors behind its rapid growth, is that it’s dynamic. Coworking operators have developed a reputation for adapting to technological, social, and commercial advancements in a way that landlords of traditional office space either can’t or won’t.
That has resulted in a coworking landscape that is constantly evolving, improving, and becoming more relevant to the needs of occupiers. However, it also means that there’s a lot to keep up with as an operator to stay at the forefront of the sector.
To help you get ahead of the competition and continue to make a positive impact on the way we use workspaces, here are some expert predictions for coworking trends to keep your eyes out for in 2022.
More wellbeing features
A greater focus on wellbeing in the workplace is largely being accepted as a central part of the future of work. And while coworking spaces are generally designed with their occupiers’ wellbeing closer to the front of mind than traditional grey office spaces, the trend towards more pleasant, healthy, and stress-relieving workspaces will still be a major development in 2022.
There are a broad range of ways to promote wellbeing in a coworking space, from superficial (but important!) elements like design to core functionality that allows for people to unwind and de-stress in the workday.
We’ve already seen plenty of operators adopt features that promote physical wellbeing – like advanced COVID-safe protocols, sophisticated air-conditioning, and on-site gyms – and touches that make for happier employees – like plenty of greenery, regular social events, and calming break-out spaces. This year, expect more operators to hop on to this trend and turn their coworking spaces into live-work environments that offer benefits way beyond a desk to work at.
Dynamic pricing models
By their nature, coworking spaces revolve around flexibility. Traditionally, that’s manifested in flexible contract terms, more choice over how much space you take, and the ability to pick how many days of the week you use the space. Moving forward, though, expect to see flexibility permeate through more of the coworking offering.
One particular development that is interesting to watch unfold is the emergence of dynamic pricing models – where the price of access to a coworking space vary throughout the year, month, and even week. As operators try to maintain high capacity throughout the year, they can leverage their pricing structure to encourage more business in quiet periods.
The TWaT revolution, as it was nicknamed by The Spectator, posits that Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays are the most popular days for people to hold face to face meetings with their coworkers or clients, leaving Mondays and Fridays for administrative tasks that can be done at home. Will we see operators catch on to this and start to reduce prices on those less favourable days to get more people through the door?
Better hybrid meeting tools
Hybrid meetings refer to meetings where part of the audience joins from the office and everyone else joins from remotely, usually over video conferencing. As digital meetings and dispersed workforces both become more common, hybrid meetings are set to become an integral part of daily working life.
However, too many coworking spaces aren’t well equipped enough to deal with demanding hybrid meetings – either lacking the appropriate technology or the raw meeting space. Over the next year, expect to see more sophisticated audio-visual equipment creep its way into coworking spaces everywhere, from high-resolution wide-angle cameras to state-of-the-art conferencing phones.
Better hybrid meeting tools don’t just strengthen the offering for regular coworkers, they also make a coworking space a viable product for people simply looking for a place nearby to join in on a meeting away from the distractions of the home – adding a new revenue stream to your operation.
New growth models
From a business perspective, 2022 will also likely see developments in the form of new growth models being adopted by operators and management companies. The market is growing at pace, so businesses are incentivised to invest aggressively in growth by any means necessary to make the most of their brand and generate more revenue.
Aside from regular expansion in the form of new market entrants and new locations for existing operators, though, there’s a possibility that other growth models such as franchising, mergers and acquisitions, and leveraged growth will see more popularity in 2022. These models allow for coworking brands to grow at a rate that is much less feasible the traditional way, while still reaping the reward of expansion across the country.
Increased corporate interest
And, finally, another extension of a trend that’s already been developing over the last two years, 2022 will see an increasing amount of corporate interest in coworking spaces. A number of household-name corporates including Facebook, HSBC, and IBM already incorporate flexible workspaces into their operations, and large corporate clients reportedly make up over 25% of WeWork’s membership.
As hybrid working models continue to become more popular with large corporate businesses, flexible workspaces and coworking spaces both become attractive propositions – allowing them to give their employees the chance to focus in an engaging office atmosphere near their home.
This will be a massive development for operators over the coming years, and could funnel hundreds of thousands of new potential members into the coworking sector to be capitalised on by existing brands.