15 Apr Coworking and flexible offices
The increase of flexible jobs and freelance workers in recent decades has created the need to overcome the concept of ‘the office’ as a workplace that is fixed and limited to an enterprise. This is how coworking was born, or, more specifically, the possibility for workers from different backgrounds to work side by side in the same space, often creating useful synergies for everyone. Work spaces have evolved accordingly and some areas have become decidedly trendy for this type of office.
The key factors behind the growth of flexible work spaces are closely linked to the growth of digital economy, entrepreneurial activity and flexibility requirements.
Flexible offices, London and New York are in the lead
In its European Coworking Hotspot Index report, Cushman & Wakefield investigates the state of the ‘flexible space’ market in the office sector from a demand point of view, indicating the European cities where the trend is more or less strong, measuring, in the appropriate index, all the factors that can favour the request for flexible spaces.
Cushman & Wakefield estimates that today the global stock of coworking, serviced office and flexible office space is equivalent to 11 million square metres. Most of the ones in Europe are in London (1.1 million square metres) 4.6% of the total office stock in the city. Though in Amsterdam the share of coworking offices represents 6% of the total.
If we broaden the spectrum to include New York, the two cities combined own almost a quarter (22%) of the global stock of coworking offices. C&W explains that, in the US, the drive to invest in flexible spaces was spurred by venture capital companies such as WeWork, the largest operator in the sector globally.
In Italy the stock of “flexible” offices is still a small percentage of the total: 1.1% in Milan and 0.4% in Rome, though the trend is growing rapidly in both cities. The share for this type of space in the total stock is lower than in the other large European cities, but the absorption of “flexible” spaces in the last 2 years has grown exponentially, going from 2% of the total take-up in 2016 to about 10% in 2018 in Milan.
European Coworking Hotspot Index: the results
Cushman & Wakefield has created an index for the main markets in Europe in terms of coworking spaces. The initial study considered over 40 cities and the final score is the result of an analysis of the economic and real estate factors, which are at the basis of the demand for flexible spaces. The analysed factors fall into 4 areas: the size of the market, the business context, the characteristics of the population, in terms of academic training and sectors of work activity, and the catalysts for this type of demand.
Established markets such as London and Paris are at the top of the rankings, however the top 10 includes also cities like Stockholm and Dublin, which also have good prospects for the evolution of coworking spaces.
The city of Milan, although not among the top 10 locations, presents interesting perspectives in terms of developing flexible spaces destined for office use. The main factors that favour this growth are represented by the size of the market, the rent costs, the duration of the contracts and the high presence of companies operating in the technology sector