A new study reveals the current state of the global coworking and flexible space industry and the impact of the pandemic on its projected growth.
CoworkingResources and pooled their resources to publish the 2020 Global Coworking Growth Study. The information is based on their own proprietary data including workspace listings and pricing, alongside data from Google Trends and Deskmag.
Top takeaways include:
  • The number of coworking spaces worldwide is projected to reach almost 20,000 in 2020.
  • The number of coworking spaces worldwide is expected to more than double by 2024, and surpass 40,000.
  • In 2020 the coworking market is forecasted to grow at around half the rate as the previous two years, due to the coronavirus.
  • However, the study expects growth to rebound from 2021 onwards, with a yearly growth rate of 21.3% until 2024.
  • Around 5 million people will work from coworking spaces by 2024, an increase of 158% compared to 2020.
“The industry is quickly recovering from the impact of Covid-19, and some regions have already reached pre-crisis levels”
2020 Global Coworking Growth Study
Where are the Biggest Markets and the Biggest Spaces?
The US is home to the world’s biggest co-working and flexible space market, with over 3,700 shared workspaces across the country. This is followed by India (2,197 spaces) and the United Kingdom (1,044 spaces).
Based on yearly growth in 2020, out of the largest markets, Germany and India are the two fastest-growing, followed by the United States and Canada.
China is the country with the largest coworking capacity, with an average of 282 people per space, which is more than twice the average capacity of spaces in the US (105 people).
North America and Asia have the largest spaces in the world, with an average size of 9,799 sq ft and 8,101 sq ft respectively.
Smaller spaces are more commonly found in Europe and South America.
Size and capacity is normally linked with profitability. But with spaces forced to reduce the capacity for physical distancing during the pandemic, it remains to be seen how heavily this reduction in foot traffic will impact spaces of all sizes around the world.
The global average price per desk dropped by 2.14% between 2019 and 2020.
According to the report, this illustrates the increasing supply of new flexible offices, which is ramping up competition and forcing spaces to lower their desk prices. Again, prices may fall further due to the impact of the coronavirus and the need to reduce the capacity for the short-term future.
The only exception is Europe, where prices have increased by almost 12% over the past 2 years.
What are Workers Searching for During the Pandemic?
As expected, in light of the current situation, online searches for the term ‘coworking’ dropped dramatically during the onset of the coronavirus.
However, searches are recovering quickly and have already surpassed mid-2018 levels.
Interestingly, workspace requests show much deeper insights. Based on over 3,000 requests between February 2020 (pre-lockdowns) and May 2020 (post-lockdowns), the study found a shift toward private offices (as the type of space most commonly requested), along with longer-term contract durations and higher capacities (of desks needed):
  • 26% higher number of seats per request.
  • 96% longer contract terms.
  • 76% higher share of requests for private offices compared to individual seats.
The report concluded: “In a post-COVID-19 world, these statistics make it easy to predict that coworking will become even more mainstream, especially since companies are shifting to remote-first workforces.”
One observation is, can we still refer to a sector that is shifting towards private offices as ‘coworking’? Should this shift continue, it may further question how we refer to this sector to avoid confusion among the people who use it. But for now, this report provides a positive glimpse into the immediate and longer-term future of the industry, which looks set to bounce back and resume its strong growth trajectory from 2021 onwards.
This summer, around 800,000 16- and 18-year olds (Yr11 and Yr13) will be collecting their exam results and trying to decide what to do next. But this year is like no other and, as well as having had their exams canceled, these young people are facing some serious challenges.
The post-Covid-19 economy will almost certainly be a changed one, with shifting skills gaps. While opportunities in sectors like digital technology and health care are likely to grow exponentially over the next few years, other industries like creative arts and hospitality will take time to recover from the pandemic’s huge hit.
We know that youth unemployment is soaring, with record numbers of 18- to 24-year-olds claiming benefits. While the least affected health-wise from Covid-19, this group is set to suffer most in terms of opportunities. A huge reduction in apprenticeship starts over the last few months already reflects lower demand from businesses.
This is why high-quality careers education has never been so important. Yet it is no secret that we are failing as a nation to meet minimum career education benchmarks. Only half of the Gatsby National Careers Education Benchmarks have been achieved nationally and the next state of the nation report is unlikely to show any dramatic improvement. This is an even bigger problem in the post-Covid-19 world.
Far from being simply ‘nice to have’, careers education must be firmly embedded in the country’s recovery plan as we move forward. Young people must be provided with comprehensive information about the state of the job market and opportunities on offer.
Careers guidance can’t wait until young people are walking out the door
Having worked hard for exams, only to have them canceled – coupled with the wellbeing impacts of lockdown – we are dealing with a surge of unmotivated young people, many of whom are anxious and worried about their future. The joy of finishing exams and going off on holiday before moving to university is a dream shattered for many and we must provide them with the hope that they do have a fulfilling future ahead. The economy is changing and the world will take time to recover economically and socially, but opportunities will be available. We just need to ensure that young people are well informed about their prospects.
Despite closures, many schools are working with employers to understand the changing skills demands so they can guide young people onto career pathways with longevity and opportunity. But career guidance can’t wait until young people are walking out the door. It has to start much earlier, with the imperative of ensuring the next generation know that there is more to the world’s economy than National Curriculum-related careers. Students and parents need exposure to diverse careers in many new and growing sectors.
Not only does good career education enable a young person to focus on their required studies, but it also motivates and inspires them to succeed. This is absolutely crucial in the current climate, as we battle with huge negativity and a ‘bad news’-focused media. To do this effectively, employers must be consulted and industry has to take a central role in educating people about the many career opportunities available. Without this, skills gaps will continue to remain unfilled and youth unemployment will continue to rise sharply. Private investment is also required to complement government initiatives and should be encouraged.
We know schools are having to catch up on missed time with students, and they are expected to focus on ‘core subjects’ from September, for at least 2 terms. Yet many young people will be making life-changing decisions as they choose GCSE options or A levels, without opportunities to explore the world of work which are too often classed as ‘enrichment activities’.
We need long-term funding strategy and the Government must, absolutely, make this an integral part of its much-touted economic stimulus package – for the benefit of both our nation’s future generation and economy.
But there is no need to wait. Employers need to know there is a pipeline of talent to see them into this uncertain future, and young people need to know there are opportunities awaiting them beyond this crisis. Schools can play an important part in bringing them together locally to build a better future for their communities.
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