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More than one million people will work in coworking spaces in 2017

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More coworking spaces, more members… These basic forecasts for 2017 are straightforward. The interesting findings of the Global Coworking Survey, compared with previous years, are once more shown in detail. Things are looking somewhat more restrained in the new year from the perspective of freelance and entrepreneur members. On the other hand, things are strongly looking up for members who are company employees. Coworking spaces are planning yet more expansion. As options multiply, though, members are also switching to new coworking spaces more often. And half of them care very little about Donald Trump being in the White House - for the other half, the dominant sentiment is dread.

By the end of the new year, nearly 1.2 million people worldwide will have worked in a coworking space. This is driven principally by clear growth in coworking space membership numbers. Notably, the number of small spaces, with fewer than ten members, has declined dramatically (from 23% to 12%). At the same time, nearly one in five coworking space boasts 150 or more members; one year previously, this number was only 13%. Despite the extreme shift in numbers from small to large facilities, the membership share of coworking spaces in the middle has undergone little visible change.

According to operators, an average of 129 members currently work in a coworking space. But considering the lack of balance, as this average is only one characteristic, it does not constitute a solid foundation. Therefore, the Global Coworking Survey is introducing a new value in addition to the median (the 50% value) this year. With this new so-called trimmed mean, the average number of members rises to 74, from 49 in the previous year.

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The independent survey and analysis of the Global Coworking Survey was performed in collaboration with Social Workplaces and was supported by Nexudus Spaces, Essensys, and Communitas.

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New members, who first worked in a coworking space within the previous 12 months, still make up the majority (56%, versus 57% in the previous year). On the other hand, the percentage of coworking spaces that have been in existence less than 12 months was lower (from 34% to 29%). For this reason, the projected expansion rate of memberships is higher than that of coworking spaces themselves.

Simultaneous occupancy rates in coworking spaces remain stable

Even though more and more people are working in coworking spaces, if you look around, it is unlikely you’ll notice the increase. Many members work at different times. Around 40% use a coworking space at least every work day, and 30% show up three to four times a week. During an average week, members come a little less often than before. And over the course of an average day, one in five members work at very irregular hours. Overall, though, the average simultaneous occupancy rate of coworking spaces has remained stable, at just about 60%.

By the end of the year, around 14,000 coworking spaces will be in operation worldwide. Most operators are currently seeing the increase taper off. It’s clear that fewer operators are saying there’s still demand for more coworking spaces in their area (21%, versus 27% in the previous year). In contrast, only 15% wrote that there were too many spaces in their area, about the same percentage as the previous year. Among currently unprofitable coworking spaces, though, one in four say there are too many. Overall, an increasing majority say that current supply is just right to meet demand (62%, versus 56% in the previous year).

Slightly more coworking spaces plan to expand, particularly by opening new locations

This overall situation has little effect on individual operators’ expansion plans. In 2017, two out of three coworking spaces intend to expand their floor space, a little more than in the previous year. Nearly 40% plan at least one new location, also slightly more than in the previous year. The larger or more profitable the current coworking space is, the more likely it is to have expansion plans. Nevertheless, even half of unprofitable coworking spaces plan to expand.

Coworking spaces anticipate more members (86%), higher income (81%), more events (71%), and a greater sense of community (84%) in 2017 — in all these areas, the numbers were almost exactly the same as in the previous year. There is little difference in outlook between larger and smaller spaces. The younger a coworking space is, the more likely it is to anticipate strong growth in all areas.

►►Next page: Problems in coworking spaces as members look to the new year, and what they expect from Trump

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