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The Members: How, When & Why Do They Work in Coworking Spaces?

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Who are the biggest competitors of coworking spaces? During which months do the highest numbers of members sign up? And what should coworking spaces provide for their members? We have already covered some questions about members in our last article on the Global Coworking Survey. In this part, we will summarize their answers on when and why they are using coworking spaces. Additionally, you will find out how members are using coworking spaces or how they would like to use them. As always, you can download a free report of the statistics presented in this article.

How did coworking members find their current coworking space before they signed up for a membership? A third of members found theirs through word of mouth, a quarter via internet search and around a tenth through other sources, such as social media. As more employees start working from coworking spaces, the amount of members who found their coworking space through employers also increased. This makes employers a significant new lead source for coworking spaces.

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The independent analysis of the 2017 Global Coworking Survey
was performed with Social Workplaces & was supported by
NexudusEssensys & Communitas. Download the free report.

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Peak season for new members: January and September

The weeks after Christmas are not just a time when many new members sign up at the gym, it’s also a time when new members join coworking spaces. The reason why so many new members join after Christmas is not to make up for the fatty holiday food they ate, but it is instead to make up for the amount of reduced working hours throughout Christmas. Every year, December is the month with the lowest number of new memberships around the world.

This dent in the graph is evened out with a significant rise in new members after the holidays. It also explains why, after the traditionally slow summer, September and October are always among the second and third strongest months regarding new memberships. This is at least true for the northern hemisphere, where most members live and which thus dominates the answers.

In the southern hemisphere - at least in the western cultures - Christmas overlaps with the summer holidays. From December to February, coworking spaces are usually rather empty, unless they are located in vacation destinations. Most new members here sign up in March and during the spring months of August to October. Things probably look a bit different around the equator. Independent of the cultures and geographical location, new members usually sign up in the weeks following popular holidays in their regions.

Home offices remain as the biggest competitors

Almost half of all members worked in a home office (45%) before switching to a coworking space. This share reflects the same numbers as last year, where as five years ago it was significantly higher (58%). This is another question we changed slightly for the 2017survey, which is why the results cannot be compared directlyto previous years. In the previous years, we had only asked where they used to work before signing up for a coworking space for the first time. This time, the question only covered the previous workplace, which also included other coworking spaces.

Only 10% of all members switched coworking spaces. This means that the spaces are only partly in direct competition to one another when accepting new members. However, employers are particularly more likely to change from one coworking space to another. And direct competition among coworking spaces is stronger in larger cities. Besides that, the biggest competitors are still home offices, followed by traditional offices where around a quarter of the members used to work before making the switch. Coffee shops (6%) are a long way behind in fourth place.

Popular coworking spaces attract more members

Are you also more likely to visit a restaurant or bar that already has people in it? In coworking spaces, this trend is even more pronounced. A social atmosphere (59%), interaction with other members (56%) and a strong community (55%) are still the most important deciding factors for coworking spaces. They are followed by the proximity to the members’ homes (51%), good value for money, good transport link (each 41%) as well as a basic office infrastructure (38%).

However, compared to last year, the numbers for most criteria dropped, including the social factors. Despite this, the order remained largely the same. Only the proximity to the place of residence increased in significance! The office infrastructure and good internet connection  suffered the biggest drops in significance. The reason for this is that they were probably taken for granted given the large selection of coworking spaces, which makes them, just like other criteria less important as distinguishing characteristics - except for the proximity to the place of residence.

▶ Next page: How are the members working in the coworking space? And who is paying for the membership?

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