Many businesses think a lot about square footage when they think about their office space, and coworking has truly changed the nature of square footage for offices. Traditionally, in offices, the norm had been about 200 square feet per person. That number has been dropping with traditional offices in recent years to about 180 square feet per person. As a comparison, the average WeWork is about 75 square feet per person. That’s what people are used to in coworking spaces.
First, this is the economic reality for why coworking is actually working. They’re putting more people into space. But what’s really happening is people are realizing that not every person is in the office all the time. People are coming and going. They’re traveling. They’re working flexible hours. They’re working from home. They’re in meetings at other spaces or coffee shops. They have dentist appointments. So to have more people in the space doesn’t actually mean that there are more people in the space.
What’s happening with square footage and coworking today is that offices are starting to bend or evolve to be part of the sharing economy. The same way you might share a car or ride in an Uber or stay in an Airbnb…offices are shaping themselves in that image because people are asking for it.
Second, office occupants are realizing they kind of like being around people and they don’t mind having less space. They might even prefer being around people, and people other than just their coworkers. It can feel more energizing. It can feel more social. It can feel more connected. It can feel more inspiring. A trip to the kitchen can feel like a trip to the store. Many coworking companies are taking advantage of this feeling.
Third, the result of these trends. According to lighting control system company Enlighted, as much as 40% of all office space goes unused – either because it is not leased at all, or because it is simply excess. Savvy companies are getting wise to this. First, by simply feeling that their space is empty; second, by employees asking to work from home; and third, with executives admitting that their real estate is not aligned with their businesses or their culture. Coworking solves all of this for companies, making the optimal use of space — usable by whomever, whenever it is needed.
What’s happening with square footage and coworking today is that offices are starting to bend or evolve to be part of the sharing economy. The same way you might share a car or ride in an Uber or stay in an Airbnb…offices are shaping themselves in that image because people are asking for it. What we’re going to see in the coming years is not only the proliferation of coworking, which is forecasted to grow by 15x over the next 12 years, but we’re going to see companies start to get more creative with how they blend their own employees, even if it’s all in the same company. We’re going to see coworking companies get hired by large companies to just reprogram their space. There are all kinds of creative and innovative ways to use space–some that have yet to be discovered. And at the center of it all is how people relate to this feeling of square footage and how much that is changing.