Acceleration of Remote Work & Work-From-Home
Remote Work & Coworking Post-COVID
After almost a year of remote work being the new standard, this is what 2021 feels like. There’s a vaccine distribution plan and (finally) a light at the end of this pandemic tunnel.
For most independent coworking spaces, 2020 was a rough year. Many of us had to invest in new office furniture, protective partitions, signage, sanitation equipment, price-gouged cleaning supplies, and PPE at a bare minimum. We had to come up with creative ways to keep our members engaged. We had to adopt new policies, procedures, and security measures. All in an effort to be safe and stay open.
We made it this far, so what does coworking look like after COVID-19?
What could coworking look like in 2021 and beyond?
It’s obvious that people working-from-home (WFH) nowadays is due in large part to COVID-19. According to research conducted by Statista, full-time remote work in the US jumped from 17% before the pandemic to 44% during the pandemic.
This is good news for us in the coworking industry because our potential customer pool just got a whole lot bigger. In fact, many businesses plan to retain some sort of WFH option even after the pandemic.
According to PwC’s US Remote Work Survey, 83% of employers now say the shift to remote work has been successful for their company, and over half of employees want to work remotely three days a week or more.
If you’re wondering how many of these new WFH workers would convert to members, Coworking Insights’ 2020 Future of Work Report found that nearly 55% of first-time remote workers say they will consider joining a coworking space in the near future. The same report also found that over 71% of pre-pandemic coworking members plan to return after pandemic isolation ends. Considering the variety of spaces that are a part of the Atlanta Coworking Alliance, remote work will be a pleasure for most after being stuck at home.
But that’s not all.
The biggest opportunity for coworking spaces in 2021 may be with Enterprise clients or “Blue-chip” employers. Coworking spaces aren’t just for startups anymore. Melissa Mesku, Founding Editor of New Worker Magazine, says that “the average coworking community member has changed; blue-chip companies are giving their employees the option to work out of these spaces – at least 25 percent of people who are coworking right now are employees of corporations.”
The commercial real estate data supports it too. There’s clear evidence that companies are leaving traditional office space. Moody’s Analytics reported the national vacancy rate for the office sector hit 17.7% in Q4 of 2020 and forecasts the US office vacancy rate hitting a historic high of 19.9% in 2021.
Future of the Enterprise Office
The pandemic caused a lot of uncertainty to the future of traditional office space, and industry experts predict higher demand for flexible office space with short term options, amenities, and more space per employee in 2021. Hmm, sounds a lot like coworking spaces.
More corporations are moving away from traditional office space and implementing hybrid remote work / office models. They will undoubtably have health and safety at the top of their must-have list for any coworking space. Any coworking space should have detailed operating procedures and policies in place to address any health and safety concerns. In addition, take a second look at ADA standards and OSHA requirements. These may not be a big deal for an entrepreneur, but it could be a deal breaker for a corporation.
Keep in mind that large organization workers are accustomed to a certain level of infrastructure and access to office services. Coworking spaces that provide these services to new enterprise members will do better at attracting and retaining these memberships. One of our Alliance spaces, Edwin Jarvis Cowork Club integrates office, print, and mail services into their memberships to help members expand their office services needs.
Coworking after COVID-19 looks good.
Most pre-pandemic members will consider returning to their space. All while new remote work folks will start to show interest. Member spaces of the Alliance are ready to show off their communities. The Alliance Passport Program gives potential members an easy (and free!) opportunity to experience multiple spaces. Coworking spaces are adjusting environments and shifting pricing models to meet the needs of a post-COVID workspace. Alliance spaces continue to work together to share the legwork and to attract large local employers.