Niche space on the rise: Office Freedom tracks 70% increase in new flexible workspace operators

Flexible Space Association member Office Freedom has reported on data that continues to show rapid growth of flexible workspace and new workspace operators.

They have also identified how flexible workspaces can enhance their appeal and stand out in a more crowded market, niche spaces are offering experiences such as co-living or childcare, and they are opening in spaces considered to be underutilised real estate such as hotels, restaurants and retail outlets.

Flexible workspaces to grow by 56% in the next four years

In the first six months of 2019 Office Freedom added 898 spaces to its portfolio, more than double that of the same period last year.  In the same timeframe there has been a 70% growth in the number of new operators registering space with them(143 in 2019 vs 84 in 2018).

The growth in the number of flexible workspaces has been global, with some of the strongest trends recorded in the Asia Pacific and USA regions.

According to Coworking Resources, the global flexible workspace market is set to grow by 56% between 2018 and 2022.  With volumes growing from 16,599 spaces in 2018 to a predicted 25,968 spaces in 2022.  As the market expands there is increased competition which naturally means that attracting and retaining new customers is paramount.  It’s this desire to stay competitive and thrive that’s fuelling the expansion of niche spaces for certain business types e.g. health, tech, music, legal, film.

Global investment in niche spaces

In June 2019, it was reported that New York based start-up Alma raised another $8M for its community and shared space for mental health professionals.  The Wing, which describes itself as a members-only network full of work and community spaces for women has already received nearly $117M in investor funding.

The trend of creating flexible spaces for particular groups of people is especially interesting considering the diverse range of groups that are now catered for.  In LA Glitch City exists as a 24 hour coworking space for independent games developers.  Writers are fully catered for at The Hatchery Press in Los Angeles.  Even those working in the legal US cannabis industry can find a home at Paragon Spaces.  In Denver you can find Tradecraft Industries a coworking space “bringing coworking to the construction industry”.  For the tech community, Extra Slice claims to be the “ultimate technology campus and platform.”

Across Europe,  Edspace in Hoxton, London welcomes those in education to join “Europe’s largest community of people changing education for good”.  Village Underground, in Lisbon, offers a space for creativity and culture and is made from shipping containers and double decker buses.  OneCoWorkMarina in Barcelona offers a beachfront dream where you can literally work on the water and OCW plans to open a further 40 locations (mainly across Europe) over the next four years.

For niche spaces to succeed in today’s market they need to provide more than simple convenience (such as secure wifi, free coffee, meeting rooms etc.) by supplementing these with unusual features and amenities.  Their objectives go beyond attracting new members and look to achieving longevity through building and nurturing successful communities.  It’s a trend that shows no sign of slowing.

1 August 2019

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