Thanks to smartphones, wi-fi, and business oriented apps, we can stay connected to just about anyone, at any time, from any location. The upside? Technology allows workers to break away from the traditional nine-to-five workplace. The downside? Despite the freedoms technology brings, it doesn’t eliminate the need for a personal connection. Many workers are meeting the need for face-to-face interaction in an alternative professional setting. Here’s how.
Independent not isolated
A corner office with a view is no longer the measure of success. Since the recession, many people are finding they are without a place to work, literally. An overwhelming number of workers are doing business from spare bedrooms, coffee shops, and free wi-fi areas. By 2018, an estimated 24 billion people will be considered “independent” workers, according to MBO Partners. Many of these people feel their unconventional office space to be isolating and non stimulating. A solution was found, in 2005, called co-working spaces. Not to be confused with rentable office space, these are places where people can pay a fee to work besides, along, or with like-minded independents. An attorney may be sitting next to an artist who is sharing ideas with an entrepreneur. This kind of atmosphere has led to numerous independents forming joint companies.
Setting up a space
The real estate for co-working spaces ranges from former inner city schools to rural Main Street storefronts. These appealing locations are becoming a major factor in the increasing number of independents seeking out co-working spaces. According to the industry news site, “deskmag”, sixty percent of existing co-working offices are slated to acquire new space this year. That’s a 400% growth from 2013. People who use co-working spaces are usually looking for more than a step up from a Starbuck’s table. Since they have a choice in where they work, independents are becoming selective in what kind of working communities they join. For example, just this month, an all-women’s co-working space opened in Center City Philadelphia.
Understanding real estate value
Co-working spaces definitely have a niche with the growing number of independent workers. However, making one of these places viable isn’t just about filling an open space with chairs, tables and office supplies; at least three co-working places in Philly have closed in the last year. The failure of these places may have resulted from the business operations of the real estate. As the work place evolves, commercial real estate firms will shift from a pure transaction role into an advisory role. Commercial real estate consultants will offer perspective on space requirements, how to negotiate with landlords, and how to help co-working clients transfer to a traditional lease if needed.
Corporations are becoming aware that technology reduces the need for traditional work spaces. Taking a cue from co-working spaces, corporations are starting to embrace alternative work environments. Many companies are finding that with an open work design, they are actually needing less space. In the future, company employees will be working alongside independents who have rented the excess space. How these trends will play out in the future is still open to debate, but what is certain is that technology is changing the work space landscape and workers are responding to the possibilities.