What Makes Co-Working Centers Work

The rise of shared workspaces is a megatrend literally reforming the traditional office and forever changing how colleagues collaborate. A new report in a series by CBRE details the rise of co-working centers, a type of shared workspace, and what it means for commercial real estate. Read on for my biggest takeaways from the report.

  1. Co-working space just isn’t for freelancers. Assume a co-working center is filled with independent graphic designers and self-employed writers? Think again. Large occupiers wanting flexible, economical and appealing space are signing up, too. Tech companies like Plantronics and Cisco are big users of NextSpace’s San Francisco locations, citing shorter employee commutes, opportunities for idea innovation, and lower corporate real estate footprint costs for the companies.
  1. It’s not just for millennials, either. A CBRE study says that co-working center users have a median age of 40 (Gen Xers!) and 63 percent of users are age 31-50.
  1. The movement isn’t expected to stop anytime soon. In the U.S., co-working is growing annually by 21 percent. Investors are responding: WeWork acquired $1 billion+ in institutional investment by mid-2015. The numbers can make these spaces a cost-effective choice: CBRE reports that the average annual fee for 10 spots in a co-working space ranges from $52,000 to $84,000, compared to $72,000 to $92,000 for traditional leased space.
  1. Adaptive reuse opportunities abound for developers. Older, outdated office buildings, warehouses and industrial structures are ripe for redevelopment as co-working centers. Advent Coworking is a Charlotte, North Carolina, co-working space in a refurbished cookie factory, and a nearby former Ford dealership is home to a Level Office co-working center than offers everything from fiber Internet to beer taps.
  1. Community matters. Nearly half of respondents in a CBRE Research user survey say the networking and sense of community that they enjoy in co-working centers is a draw. Master Connections Associates say co-working centers mimic social media platforms in that they connect people in an environment to talk, trade ideas, exchange documents and share experiences.

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