Though WeWork is notorious for having one of the most spectacular implosions in business history, it and other coworking providers are having a moment.
Amid a global shift to hybrid work following the COVID-19 pandemic, WeWork and other coworking companies have experienced a boom. In March 2022, WeWork said it was projecting a 30 percent increase in revenue due to an increased demand for flexible office space.
Coworking has long been popular in the startup space, as new businesses need to grow quickly without having a lot of overhead like facility leases or mortgages. But with the pre-pandemic increase in remote work that’s only accelerated and the ongoing shift to hybrid arrangements, demand for coworking spaces is on the rise across much of the U.S.
We wanted to understand what people who spend at least some of their time coworking like and dislike about their spaces. To determine the biggest benefits and drawbacks of coworking, we spoke with 500 U.S. adults who are currently in coworking arrangements. Here’s a look at our key findings:
- One in two coworking professionals said their income has risen since they began coworking. Nearly half saw an improvement in their work skills, work quality, and collaboration, and 45 percent said their mental health improved.
- Coworkers are essentially split down the middle on hybrid models. 47 percent work out of their coworking space at least 5 days a week, and 53 percent only use the space for a few days each week.
- Many coworking spaces offer their patrons convenient amenities. Nearly 40 percent of coworking professionals said their facility offers free (or included) parking. Networking events, snacks, and even reception services were also popular bonuses.
Top Benefits of Coworking
In general, the coworking professionals we talked to feel that since they made the jump to coworking, many aspects of their careers have gotten better. The single biggest benefit people pointed out was income; just over 50 percent of people told us that since they started a coworking arrangement, their income has improved.
Whether this is related to coworking itself or simply is coincidental isn’t clear. After all, coworking is quite common in the startup space, so it may be that many of the people we talked to had moved to a new job that had a coworking model.
However, some improvements are more clearly tied to coworking, particularly as it compares to working from home. Forty-seven percent of coworkers told us that their work quality has improved, and by the same percentage, they said collaboration with colleagues has gotten better.
After all, if you’re working from home, collaboration with colleagues is usually done through email or messaging apps like Slack rather than through face-to-face interactions. And collaboration may have a positive impact on work outcomes, as workers may feel it’s easier to ask for help to improve what they’re producing.
Percentage who say aspects of their work have improved since joining a coworking space
|Collaboration with colleagues||47%|
|Number of clients||45%|
|Ability to focus||41%|
* Includes respondents who said aspect of work had “somewhat improved” or “greatly improved”
And while more than three-quarters of remote workers say their own preference is a major reason they’re still working from home, according to a Pew Research Center analysis, these arrangements aren’t without their drawbacks.
A 2021 survey by the American Psychiatric Association found that nearly two-thirds of remote workers said they feel lonely or isolated some or all of the time as a result of working from home. Particularly for newly remote workers, a flexible coworking arrangement may provide a necessary bridge from the old world to the new.
That’s not to say coworking doesn’t have its potential drawbacks. For example, while 41 percent of coworking professionals told us their arrangement had made it easier for them to focus, 30 percent said it made it harder. Similarly, 43 percent said coworking made work-life balance better, while 31 percent said it worsened that aspect of their careers.
Still, in all cases, a greater percentage of people said coworking had made aspects of their work better versus making them worse.
Most Desirable Coworking Features
Few of the coworkers we talked to touted lavish amenities offered at their coworking spaces, but some perks were fairly common. About 38 percent of people said their coworking spaces offer free parking or parking that’s included in their fees, while the same percentage said their facilities offer WiFi.
And while more than one in three said they are offered coffee or tea in their coworking space, beer and wine are much less common with only about 27 percent of people saying adult beverages are on offer at their coworking facility.
Most Popular Coworking Perks
Percentage of workers whose coworking spaces have various amenities
|Parking (free or included)||38%|
|Conference rooms/meeting spaces||37%|
|Coffee or tea||36%|
|Access to other coworking spaces||33%|
|Mail service/P.O. box||31%|
|Discounts at local businesses||27%|
|Access control systems||27%|
|Beer or wine||27%|
While childcare and learning/growth cohorts were among the least common amenities offered, demand for these services could grow in the near future. Currently, coworking spaces that offer childcare are more popular in Europe, but they are starting to pop up in cities across the U.S., such as Portland, Oregon. For professionals who are hoping to strike a healthier work-life balance and juggle parenting and career growth, in-house childcare could be a major selling point in what may quickly become a crowded coworking market.
Learning and growth cohorts could also draw a lot of ambitious remote workers to the coworking model. A 2022 study from Buffer found that 45 percent of remote workers found it more difficult to grow their careers outside the office. Without facetime with executives in meetings or even casual conversations with managers over lunches, many remote workers may not know how to make key connections in their companies. Learning cohorts at coworking spaces could provide the career development and networking opportunities that remote and solo workers are longing for.
The Future of Coworking
Partially due to the pandemic, coworking is expected to continue growing across the U.S. and the world. The market for coworking facilities should grow by nearly 10 percent every year through 2028, according to one analysis.
While coworking remains popular in the startup space, where minimal overhead is necessary for rapid growth, coworking is attractive for more traditional companies and workers.
Firms that downsized their facilities during the early days of the pandemic may be interested in using coworking spaces to enable a hybrid work environment in which people work at home part of the week and in a shared space for the rest of the week.
Not all coworkers work in their shared office every day, which illustrates the flexibility of coworking arrangements. While one in five of the professionals we talked to spend five days per week in a coworking space, more than half (53 percent) are there for fewer days than that.
Whether they’re pouring their passions into a startup or simply want a workspace that’s not also their dining room table, most of the coworking professionals we talked to have found the arrangement to be a net positive. That’s good news considering coworking is likely to continue to become more common over the next several years.
We surveyed 500 U.S. employed adults who work at least one day a week in a coworking space about their experiences with and attitudes toward coworking. Our survey was conducted online in May 2022.