Is the Coworking Trend Moving Towards SWFL?
By Gary Tasman
CEO & Broker Cushman & Wakefield Commercial Property Southwest Florida
Coworking spaces are becoming the norm in many metropolitan cities. According to the 2017 Global Coworking
Survey, it is estimated that more than 1.1 million people went to work at 13,800 coworking spaces worldwide.
Coworking spaces are defined as membership-based workspaces where diverse groups of freelancers, remote
workers, and other independent professionals work together in a shared communal setting. Coworking space
memberships have experienced steady growth since the idea became reality.
Benefits of Coworking
Coworking is beneficial for small business owners who are looking to work in a cooperative space without
breaking the bank. In the past, businesses could not afford to acquire space on their own and then incur
administrative expenses on top of that. Advancements in technology allow this model to work and creates an
ultra-efficient workspace that is open to collaboration. Unlike a traditional office, coworking spaces consist of
members who serve a wide variety of different companies, via a diverse range of ventures and projects. The
concept also provides a physical workspace for those whose only alternative is working from home.
Professionals can benefit from sharing creative ideas, knowledge, resources and services. Coworking facilities
play a role in keeping local talent by nurturing one’s skillset and providing necessary resources and services to
support business growth. Another benefit is work-life balance. Independent work spaces offer an option for
entrepreneurs to work where they live. With an increase in popularity, it is sure to be a trend that cities of all
sizes will soon experience, if they have not already.
This emerging coworking market is here to stay and is a growing trend. It can be described as the new version of
the “executive suite,” but on steroids. WeWork, a Fortune 500 company, is credited with introducing the
coworking concept and jumpstarting this trend. The business model is similar to that of a fitness club model, in
that no matter what city you are working in, there is a WeWork facility that you can access. The coworking model
is also very attractive to larger companies who have a mobile workforce but want to remain collaborative.
Coworking space is also a popular choice among start-ups. WeWork has grown to become the largest tenant in
New York City, since its inception in 2008.
Impact on Southwest Florida
The concept is beginning to move this way, and the region should be thinking and preparing for its arrival.
Coworking is projected to grow to 3.8 million people by 2020. Even a small percentage of this number is
enough to see an impact on local market conditions. Although Southwest Florida has seen its fair share of
coworking workspaces pop-up recently with the addition of Endeavor Innovative Workspaces, Venture X and the
upcoming H2 Innovation Center, the area is still behind the coworking trend curve.
The office structure as we know it will change dramatically with the new workspace concept. Characteristics of a
productive office will be redefined to identify the value created when using the workspace model. Moving
forward, flexibility is the key to minimizing the effect coworking spaces will create. Businesses that adapt and
position themselves to respond to market conditions faster will benefit the most.
The Southwest Florida commercial real estate office sector is set to feel the effects more than other industry
sector. The introduction of coworking spaces will trigger/create a domino effect within ancillary areas of the real
estate market, ultimately prompting more business efficiency. Parking ratios will change, as there will be no
need for expansive employee parking lots. Building designs will change to reflect less space needed for
occupancy by a business, thereby, causing a reduction or elimination in long term leases. Additionally,
predictive real estate value models will change, as they are generally modeled by long-term real estate revenue,
such as leases.
As coworking spaces continue to evolve throughout Southwest Florida, the long-term effects will continue to
present themselves. In the meantime, the trend does not seem to be slowing down anytime soon, so the
regional businesses should prepare to respond quickly in this everchanging market. For expert advice on the
most productive ways to respond, contact Cushman & Wakefield Commercial Property Southwest Florida.