Image credit: Luis Alvarez | Getty Images
This article was originally published by Entrepreneur on June 12, 2018
Co-working is often considered a millennial venture — strictly for those who are young, starting out and crave the unstructured work environment.
While co-working may have begun in this demographic, this is less and less true as co-working becomes increasingly popular. All kinds of workers are realizing they can have a flexible and diverse working environment without sacrificing the professionalism of the office.
As someone who has been in the game for a while now — we opened our first co-working space in 2010 — I have seen the change firsthand.
Each year, we survey our members to find out how we’re doing — and how they’re doing. This year’s survey came back with a clear message about the health of the co-working community. In short, co-working spaces are proving to be economic engines that produce prosperity for owners, employees and service providers alike. Below are some recent findings that shatter the perceptions of co-working spaces.
Not just for solo artists.
More and more, co-working is becoming group-oriented. It is a common misperception that co-working spaces are filled with solo entrepreneurs desperate for some social interaction. Our most recent member survey demonstrated that this is definitely not the case. Of those surveyed:
- Only 50 percent self-identified as individual workers (consultants, freelancers, or telecommuters)
- 40 percent categorized themselves as employees (people who work for an employer at a coworking space)
- 10 percent classified themselves as employers (business owners or business unit managers who had employees)
Co-workers are thriving and hiring.
Another co-working myth is that co-working members are small operations who intend to stay that way. Reality? Co-working spaces act as accelerators for business growth. The constant interaction with outside companies allows for natural networking opportunities, helping businesses find new clients, customers, talent and collaboration opportunities that fast-track growth. Out of our survey respondents, roughly 3/4 of employers and 1/3 of individuals expect to add new employees in 2018.
- 40 percent expect to hire 1 to 2 people
- 27 percent expect to hire 3 to 5 people
- 10 percent expect to hire 6 or more people
Co-working members are big spenders.
Co-working members contribute significantly to their local and regional economies by spending on business services internally with other members and with local restaurants and other businesses. At Fueled Collective specifically, nearly 40 percent of employer members reported spending money (cash or barter) in 2017 with other Fueled Collective members for services, with a median transaction amount of $5,000 to $9,999. Employers spent more money with companies outside of Fueled Collective, with a median spend of $50,000 to $99,999. More than 1/3 spent more than $100,000. Individual members also have an economic impact. More than 1/4 (29 percent) of them reported spending money (cash or barter) in 2017 with other Fueled Collective members for services, with a median transaction amount of $1,000 to $4,999.
Age of business.
As mentioned before, co-working is not just for the fresh-faced startup, as is a common perception. Members often include a considerable portion of experienced business owners. From our survey, among employer respondents:
- 38 percent reported being in business for 3 to 5 years
- Nearly 1/4 of employer respondents and 28 percent of individual respondents reported being in business for more than 10 years
- Only 12 percent of employer and individual respondents report being in business for 1 year or less
Enterprise is making a showing in co-working.
Larger corporations are increasingly making use of co-working. Gone are the days of co-working spaces filled with companies you have never heard of. Corporations have been finding value in co-working spaces for different reasons, including improving recruitment efforts, lowering real estate costs, gaining flexibility and boosting employee satisfaction.