There are now over 2,000 coworking spaces worldwide – and this number is growing by nearly 100% every year.
This is a phenomenal growth within a relatively young industry, and all the signs suggest that it is set to continue. Indeed, at the recent Coworking Europe Conference 2012 in Paris, ABCN‘s John Milhado – who joined a panel discussing the differences between business centers and coworking spaces – found that the topic of growth was very much on the agenda.
But who are the coworkers – and who’s driving this growth?
Deskmag’s Global Coworking Survey 2012 aimed to find out just that, and the results served up yet more positive news for coworking – as well as some interesting findings on coworkers themselves.
Who uses coworking space?
Deskmag found that over half (53%) of coworking users are from the freelancing community. While these independent workers and self-employed professionals make up the bulk of the coworking crowd, the remainder are entrepreneurs and employees from businesses both small and large. Mobile workers also fall into this category.
The survey also found that the percentage of female coworkers has grown, up from 32% in 2010 to 38% in 2012.
The research went on to identify why coworkers chose their space, and this is crucial for any business centre looking to break into the market. According to the respondents, top of the list of most important reasons for choosing their coworking space is “community”, with “interaction with others” and “social or enjoyable atmosphere” following close behind.
We already know that community is important to coworkers – Indy Hall’s Alex Hillman recently explained that it’s the be-all-and-end-all of coworking. “Our facility could burn to the ground and Indy Hall would still exist” he said. So first and foremost, business centres looking to create a successful coworking space need to foster this community ethos to ensure they are giving coworkers what they want.
Interestingly, the response “my company or client pays for it” was second on the most-important list – suggesting a growing trend in companies allowing mobile or remote workers to use a shared workspace environment. Where mobile workers are concerned, this number is expected to increase. IDC predicts that mobile workers will make up 29% of the global workforce by 2013, so this is certainly a trend worth looking out for in the coming months.
Looking ahead, the research found that the average member size has increased, and a third of all spaces plan to expand to a new location in the near future.
For the flexible space industry, one of the biggest battles when working to attract a new client base is knowing who these prospective clients are, what they want, and how you can match their needs. Deskmag’s research helps to ascertain these key requirements, which opens the door for business centres to tap in to a fast-growing market.
This is flexible space at its most flexible. For an industry that’s growing at a rate of 100% per year, can you afford to ignore it?