Coworking spaces expected to see increased demand as remote working increases

TORONTO – When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Christina Disler wondered whether to shut down her co-work space business in Vancouver because people were so afraid of being in communal offices.

TORONTO – When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Christina Disler wondered whether to shut down her co-work space business in Vancouver because people were so afraid of being in communal offices.

“We lost around 75% of our clients because we didn’t have people locked into long-term contracts because… we wanted to offer flexibility,” said the owner of Werklab, who specializes in co-working focused on well-being. the spaces.

“It was really hard.”

But over a year and a half later, her outlook has completely changed.

People are returning to coworking spaces, which provide members with offices, meeting rooms, and other amenities such as gyms, kitchens, and cafes. Many are also considering the locations for the first time as they adjust to long-term remote working or leave office jobs to start businesses.

These changes are proving to be a boon for co-working spaces, which were becoming mainstream before the pandemic wreaked havoc on their business models. Now their owners are predicting that they will peak in popularity as cases of COVID-19 subside and people look for new ways to work, socialize and venture after more than a year in the House.

Simply put, coworking spaces have gone from being a “nice to have” to a need for many, said Disler.

“They say, ‘I have to get out of the house, squat down, have some responsibility for the people around and create a boundary between my home and the office,” ”she said.

“So we saw a slight uptick and our offices were both full.”

Disler’s has also seen a great deal of interest in corporate packages for clients who are ditching their desks but still want to provide staff with a workspace.

She doesn’t expect that interest to change anytime soon, nor does a 2020 study by Coworking Resources and

Their research found that the number of co-working spaces around the world is expected to reach 40,000 by 2024 and provide space for five million people, a 158% increase from 2020.

While the industry slowed down last year, it predicted an annual growth rate of 21.3% from 2021.

The study found that Canada already has 617 coworking spaces, including sites run by giant companies like Staples, many of which cater only to women and others serve specific industries like the arts.

One of the more recent additions is the Huddle Sharespace, which opened in November 2019.

The Scarborough, Ont. The site, which boasts of offices, meeting rooms, a fitness center and lounge, now has more monthly visitors and daily registrations are also on the rise, said Aleema Khan, responsible for the community.

Many are visiting with a similar refrain to what she heard from a landscaper a few weeks ago.

“He told me he had a whole house to himself, but he said, ‘I have to get out of my house, I need to meet people, I need to talk to people again and I need to feel there’s a world out there, ”Khan recalled.

These guests create a golden opportunity for co-working spaces, said John Trougakos, associate professor of organizational behavior and human resources management at the University of Toronto.

“There has never been a time when so many people could work from anywhere like we have now, and a lot of people want and realize they can work from anywhere,” he said. he declared.

“It really gives these collaborative workspace companies a head start over before the pandemic, when there was a smaller niche of people doing this.”

But that doesn’t mean attracting guests will always be easy for coworking spaces.

Trougakos believes the outlook in the workplace is “fluid” and could take up to 18 months to develop as it is not known how many companies will opt for long-term remote work and how many employees will like it. model after the pandemic.

“We’re sort of at the height of uncertainty,” he said.

“It’s not entirely clear how things are going to play out, but I really think that in the future the opportunity will be greater for these (coworking) companies than before.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on September 30, 2021.

Tara Deschamps, The Canadian Press

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