HR & Management

Evolution of the office environment: Five trends surrounding co-working spaces

9 min read

17 March 2017

In the last few years, we’ve seen co-working spaces grow from strength to strength. In London alone, there is estimated to be over 1,000 co-working spaces and the capital was recently cited as the leading global market in this sector.

In the last few years, we’ve seen co-working spaces grow from strength to strength. In London alone, there is estimated to be over 1,000 co-working spaces and the capital was recently cited as the leading global market in this sector.

It’s also a similar picture in metropolitan cities around the world: anywhere that has a thriving startup and business scene is also likely to experience a rise in the amount and variety of co-working spaces available.

In fact, it’s such a growing trend, we’re also seeing it impact not only on the way in which people work and do business but also on how they live and travel too. Based on these insights, we’ve compiled a snapshot guide to the latest developments and opportunities in this continually evolving sector.

The rise of the “workation”

It’s not only the traditional office but the entire way in which we now work is changing with co-working spaces. The old nine-to-five style approach of keeping work and life completely separate is developing into something quite different, representing a real cultural shift.

Along these lines, one really exciting trend we’re seeing is a new wave of travel inspired co-working experiences and retreats or “workations” that are springing up.

These co-working spaces are catering to those companies and individuals who are looking to combine their day-to-day business with a sense of adventure.

CoBoat co-working spaces

This undoubtedly beats taking the tube to work

For example, unique opportunities such as Coboat are now available, offering bespoke co-working trips on board a fully equipped (and of course WiFi-ready) catamaran, which regularly sails around the Mediterranean.

Furthermore, longer programs, such as Remote Year, can serve as incentives to keep talented employees from jumping ship or starting their own business.

Continue reading on the next page as we shift from co-working spaces to co-living spaces.

Could co-living be the next big thing?

Further blurring the lines between work, play and down-time is the new trend for co-living, which is taking off in cities such as London, New York and Berlin. The concept of co-living is to provide beautifully kitted-out spaces that combine bijou apartments with co-working facilities, communal kitchens and living areas.

This style of living is perfect for career-minded people, who travel a lot and don’t want to be tied down by an expensive mortgage or long-term contract.

The Collective Co-living co-working spaces

Co-living space The Collective offers accommodation, cinema, gym and more under one roof

In this way, co-living is a great example of the changing needs and demands of millennials, who favour experiences over ownership. It facilitates and offers access to shared resources (which are an upgrade from what this demographic could afford otherwise) and places more value on their time, by taking care of things like admin and bills.

One company that’s leading the way here is The Collective, which describes itself as “not your average property company” and sees co-living as the future of both life and work.

On the next page, see how co-working spaces are designed for corporates and startups alike – mascots welcome.

Co-working spaces are for corporates as well as startups

As shared spaces are often recognised as hubs of innovation, providing a starting point for new and disruptive companies, it was never going to be long before big businesses wanted in on the action of co-working spaces.

Now shared office environments, such as Interchange in Camden, can name the likes of Cisco and KPMG as tenants, alongside its roster of early-stage companies.

Interchange Camden co-working spaces

Team mascots also welcome

Of course, generally speaking, larger companies tend to position satellite teams into co-working spaces (rather than entire departments) with the aim of creating mutually beneficial relationships and connections.

This means that big businesses can learn from and connect with fresh and innovative minds and startup companies have access to the experts and established processes of well-known industry players.

In a step on from this, we’re also seeing large corporate companies, such as US telecoms giant Verizon, launch its own co-working spaces in cities like London and New York, which is a further exciting development in what is surely set to be a growing trend.

Co-working spaces aren’t just for huge capital cities, as we find out on the next page.

Expanding out of the city

Another tendency we’re definitely noticing is that co-working spaces are becoming popular outside of recognised tech hubs – such as Silicon Roundabout – and is expanding throughout urban areas and beyond.

The increasingly fluid, lean and flexible nature of many startup companies today, means that workspaces are emerging everywhere that talent lives, or is happy to commute to and socialise in, rather than it being tied to one street or neighbourhood.

Cambridge co-working spaces

Cambridge is becoming a key destination for co-working spaces

So within London, areas such as Paddington, Notting Hill, Hackney and London Bridge are becoming thriving spots for co-working spaces and further afield in the UK, cities such as Cambridge and Bristol are also seeing a rise in this type of facility.

On a more global level, despite catering to city dwellers in large part, there is also growing demand for co-working spaces outside built-up environments in order to provide tranquil places to meet, relax and work from.

Mokrin House in Serbia and Coconat in the German countryside are good examples of this.

On the final page, see how co-working spaces can be secured at short notice.

Image: Shutterstock

Finding bespoke spaces on demand

The fact that co-working spaces are growing so rapidly is encouraging, as it’s giving businesses and entrepreneurs more choice and opportunities to find a desk, office or meeting room quickly and easily.

However, abundance of choice for co-working spaces can be overwhelming for some, so many offices are catering towards specific sectors and types of company, creating bespoke communities and environments.

Nomad co-working spaces

View from the Finsbury Business Centre in Clerkenwell

An example of this is how women’s only co-working is becoming popular in the US and Australian markets, with the launch of spaces like The Wing in New York and One Roof in Melbourne.

These shared offices specialise in providing support, networking and guidance specifically for female entrepreneurs and although the trend hasn’t made it over to the UK yet, it’s certainly something to look out for in the future.

To help people in London locate their ideal co-working spaces, my team and I have developed Nomada website and app to make it easy and hassle free for people to find and book their perfect workspace, in as little time as one minute.

Ansel Liu is co-founder and MD of Nomad