Co-working was a topic explored by many of the CoreNet Global Hackathon teams, and the part of corporate real estate that may remain unchanged from the  pandemic is the ongoing debate over the future of co-working. 

A quick assumption would be that COVID will kill co-working spaces, according to Dane Stangler, writing in Forbes. “Any place or activity that brings together a sizable number of strangers is a top candidate for irrevocable disruption and lasting harm. Shared desks and offi ce space and common areas, which require people to leave home, could permanently lose their allure. Or, at least, demand won’t return to what it was just a few months ago.” he wrote.

Indeed, cultures promoted by co-working companies may need to be rethought, some Hackathon team members reported. Co-working spaces are known for their shared areas and amenities including hot desks, where multiple users can use the same desking station in the course of a day. COVID-19 will challenge co-working operators moving forward to institute greater cleaning practices and rethink their space offerings. 

Tenants will unquestionably want more control over who is coming in and out of the common areas. Some teams predicted reduced co-working at sites with high density, low individual space ownership.

 And yet others anticipated that commercial landlords will have more co-working operators, and that there will be an up-scaling of co-working operators for the handling of future outbreaks. 

Stangler points out that there are three reasons justifying the continued life of co-working: 

  1. Remote Workers Have to Work Somewhere
    “But that doesn’t mean all those remote workers will work at home forever. After a couple of months of lockdown and working at home, my guess is that millions of people will be eager to work from somewhere else, anywhere else.” 
  1. They serve as a resource coordination location for small businesses 
    Co-working spaces are a lifeline for small businesses that “operate on the periphery” of local economies. For many of them, working at home doesn’t provide a solution, and the burden falls especially hard on those in lower income quintiles. 
  1. Community is Key to Recovery Entrepreneurs, business owners, and workers will need social networks and local connections more than ever to regain their footing