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Commercial Real Estate

Cowork spaces are everywhere. Who actually works this way?

We surveyed 300 cowork space members to learn what drives demand for this innovative work arrangement.

Coworking is booming.

In the 12 years since the first cowork space opened in the U.S., the phenomenon has become ubiquitous in cities around the country. It’s the go-to working arrangement for independent contractors, from bustling Manhattan to quiet Midwestern suburbs.

For many forward-thinking companies, coworking has even replaced traditional offices. Growing businesses send employees to cowork spaces en masse, taking advantage of lower costs and more flexible contracts.

To understand this phenomenon and what it takes to run a cowork space successfully, we ran a nation-wide (US) survey of 300+ cowork space members. Along with demographic and behavioral data, our survey instrument gathered deep-dive feedback on how coworkers think about coworking, their cowork space, and their cowork community. Beyond metrics on awareness and perceptions about coworking generally, the instrument instead focused on why coworkers choose to cowork — and what it is about their experience that keeps them coming back.

What We Learned

Coworkers are likely to fall between the ages of 25 and 34. Most (77 percent) are between 19 and 29 years of age. A third of these coworkers perceive that they are younger than other coworkers who are using the space. Among millennial coworkers, only half report that their parents understand the concept of coworking.

Among millennial coworkers, only half report that their parents understand the concept of coworking.

Most coworkers own or work with a small business or a startup. Thirty-one percent are corporate employees who work for a larger company. This segment aligns with the 25 percent of total coworkers who report that their company purchases seats or membership at the coworking space for the use of remote employees. A further 25 percent of all coworkers expense the cost of membership to their company, whether that company is a large corporate entity or a small business.

Of the coworkers who reported having moved to their current location within the last year, most indicated that the potential to work at a cowork space encouraged them to go ahead with the move.

Most coworkers learned about the concept very recently (64 percent within the last four years). Seventy-five percent joined a coworking space for the first time within the last four years, showing that those who became familiar with the concept more than five years ago decided to join a space more recently. When researching their current cowork space, most coworkers found the information they needed online (55 percent).

When visiting the space, most coworkers found the furniture to be at least moderately important, though coworkers do not seem to place such an emphasis on furnishings and “vibes” as cowork space owners do.

There’s More

These are just some of the findings from our research. In all, the report is 38 pages long, and includes commentary, graphs and key findings from our survey and in-depth interivews with cowork space owners. We designed every survey question in order to empower current and prospective cowork space owners with real-world consumer data about their target market.

To purchase a copy of this report, click here.

By Nick Freiling

Nick Freiling is the Founder/Director of Haven Insights.