A few years ago, co-working was a new concept, made a lot of financial sense as well as provided many advantages for small companies- the biggest being the scalability and the opportunity to start with low investments. A recent report terms WeWork, an innovative company that was one of the founders of this concept worldwide. Many other brands followed suit and co-working spaces fast became the trend more than the exception. With collaborative technologies playing a big role in all enterprise processes, it became easier for work-as-you-will types of workplaces to survive and even thrive. The digital transformation of the enterprise has also changed the face of workplaces unrecognizably. It’s not all about real estate- it’s about staying on the same platform.
Clearly, over the last few months, the very foundation of co-working spaces has been shaken. And no, the crash of WeWork late last year is not the only reason for another rapid change in workspaces paradigms.
So what’s changed?
From co-working independent, per seat workplaces to no workplace at all! So the change happened from fixed real estate, huge investments in glitzy offices, to flexible, small scale, per seat flexible offices, and now- work where you like.
Given the instability of the real estate industry as well as the rapid changes in lifestyles globally, the workplace needs to be defined all over again.
A workplace needs to essentially just be that – a place for work. Many companies still consider it a brand- the richer the better. But many others do not. With the fall of WeWork, there could be opportunities for many other competitor brands. But experts advise them to tread with caution. Non-traditional offices were a novelty, but they are also on the way out. Today it’s about remote offices- anywhere, anytime.
Of course, the digital transformation of the enterprise has a lot to do with this newest concept. Anyone can work anywhere- employees, retainers, software experts, entire teams- now have the freedom to work from anywhere at all. Even though there will be still growth of flexible office spaces globally over the next few years, there will be a concurrent rise anywhere, anytime workplaces as well.
The leasing industry is seeing a radical change, and so is the connected enterprise concept. However, experts still say that in the next ten years, almost 1 billion people will be working from co-working spaces. The advantage sit provides- startups, solopreneurs, or global teams- infrastructure support and also the flexibility of time and space- a by- the- day subscription and even a model for adding seats whenever the team decides to grow- all these advantages will be increasing with time.
Slowly, conventional office spaces with dedicated seats and infrastructure will become a relic of a distant past. But the moot question will still stay. Flexible working spaces are also on their way out, maybe over the next few years; their numbers will not rise proportionately to the workforce. Or, as some predict, free times in restaurants or bars will also serve up as a Flexi working space. Even luxury hotels are putting up their lobbies as a temporary pop up offices- providing Flexi workspaces. The W in London, Soho is an example.
In short, a whole tribe of real estate savvy developers, entrepreneurs, and travel industry executives are already creating concepts of multi-use, flexible workspaces. While co-working will be a part of the future of workplaces and WeWork is already not. There is still much more innovation of the workplace concept that enterprises can look forward to.
And some of them will be more fun than work!!!