Once deemed to be the future of productivity and tech offices, co-working hubs are facing a threat that could end their presence in business districts around the world. Due to rising costs of real estate in major cities and a strong preference by many of today’s IT professionals to work wherever (and whenever) they desire without being bound to some type of office membership, co-working hubs may just be a thing of the past soon enough.
Is the Allure Fading?
Shortly after the dotcom boom, the concept of being able to work anywhere in the world gained traction among many IT professionals whose work routines were usually not anchored to a fixed location or schedule. Many were tired of not having the freedom to work whenever they liked, or to surrender to the ticking of an office bundy clock. Others were simply unsatisfied with having to work in an office that reflected the typical and boring hues of a corporate office, which were usually a dull blue or gray. Others could no longer stand the uniform cubicles sprawled across a skyscraper floor. Needless to say, the corporate-office look was beginning to fall out of favour for those who very well knew they could work in more hip, colourful, and lively environments.
Many IT professionals, who later became pioneers of work arrangements like telecommuting and IT freelancing later introduced the concept of working in a shared space environment. From the ashes of office, boredom, and isolation arose coworking spaces, or for the younger folk, coworking hubs.
These days, however, coworking hubs are beginning to experience the same dissatisfaction IT professionals of yore once had towards the idea of working in isolation at their home office (or bedrooms). It may be too soon to say that their allure is fading, but it is beginning to look like it.
“Build it, and They Will Come”
Coworking hubs rose to answer a need that many remote workers, IT professionals, and self-employed entrepreneurs were trying to deal with: the lack of a good workspace and a good environment that would help them cope with the monotony of their day. Early coworking hubs further operated on the notion that coworking hubs were simply a rentable office space, they were a community too. It was a place where professionals from various industries could convene, interact, and in some instances, build ventures together. While this remained true when coworking hubs were in their infancy, that may no longer be the same today.
The main slew of problems that have kept coworking hubs from growing and being more attractive to young professionals ranged from high membership costs, poor work environment or lack of work arrangement variety, and perhaps the most jarring of them all, an absence of a sense of community or the lack of community management.
Because coworking hubs were deemed hip and trendy, they were mostly marketed towards young professionals (many of whom belong to the Millennial generation) who had a few or no dependents, or financial responsibilities. There was a notion that those who worked at coworking hubs could afford, hence the high (and continuously rising) monthly or annual coworking fees. The rising real estate costs don’t help either, and the added fees upon fees are believed to be driving coworkers out.
Another issue many coworkers have had with their coworking hubs is the lack of flexible work arrangements or workstations. A coworking hub is supposed to offer an environment a simple bedroom could not to a freelancer or telecommuter. Unfortunately, there has been a huge disinterest among coworking hub operators to provide more work solutions for their customers. Although a coworking hub is an office at the end of the day, it should still have features that make work fun.
One way to succeed at this is to look at the direction tech start-ups are going. Many are making their offices livelier and more productive with comfy seats and ergonomic desks in the workroom and comfy bean bags in the workers’ lounge. Even a simple addition of yoga balls, wobble chairs, or any equipment that can make work comfortable will always be appreciated in a coworking hub.
Finally, a co-working hub is built around the concept of community. Many coworking hubs who continue to hold events for its members, success training, productivity seminars, and even yoga classes tend to thrive over those that do not. Make your coworking hub an active space, and watch memberships soar!
There are other factors that may have driven entrepreneurs from one coworking hub and into another, but when it comes to the whole industry, the aforementioned reasons are believed to be holding the whole coworking hub trend backwards.
Back to the Beginning
When in doubt of what a coworking hub should be, it always helps to go back to the beginning. Coworking hubs were initially thought up to provide what a remote worker, a self-employed entrepreneur, or young start-ups needed: a safe, healthy, and conducive workspace where ideas could grow and be supported by other members of that coworking hub.