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Coworkers like their workspace to be small and interactive, flexible on opening hours and close to restaurants. Most work daily and prefer 24-hour access. A coworking visa with access to coworking spaces worldwide is of high interest for them. And the majority don't care much about the recreational activities on offer. Those are some of the findings of the first global coworking survey, which is being released over the next few days on Deskmag.
By Carsten Foertsch - Thursday, 06 January 2011

The survey shows that most coworkers (54%) prefer to share a workspace with less than twenty people, while 21% say they work well in a space with up to 50 coworkers. Large workspaces are widely disliked - less than 4% of respondents said they favoured a workspace with more than 50 users. The remaining 21% said size wasn’t important.

Coworkers were also asked about their preferred office design. For the majority, an ideal coworking space would have a mixture of open shared working areas, as well as smaller closed rooms for private conversations. In fact, workplace layout and design was ranked as the most important factor about which coworkers want to have more say.

The concept of using a shared flexible desk has caught on. Just under half (43%) of all coworkers rent a dedicated desk which they use exclusively. The remaining 57% are either happy with or don’t mind using a flexible desk which can be shared with other coworkers.

Regarding amenities, unsurprisingly 99% say that internet access is the most important service they require. Almost as important are printers and copiers (80%) and at least one meeting room (76%). Often coworkers would like a café (61%) and a kitchen (50%).

Coworkers don’t care about ping-pong

Often coworking spaces are portrayed as laid-back fun-loving recreational rooms, equipped with ping-pong tables and kicker (or fussball) games. But the global coworking survey shows that this image doesn’t match with the desires of coworkers.

Only a quarter of respondents say that recreational activities are important, half consider them neutral, and another quarter think they are unimportant.

When asked how often they use provided recreational facilities, the same responses appear – only a quarter of coworkers use them regularly, half say seldom, and a quarter never at all.

Other facilities considered less important are libraries (used by 26%) and parking spaces (used by 29%). However, on the topic of parking, opinions are significantly different between North America and Australia on one hand, and Europe, South America and Asia on the other. North Americans and Australians rank parking as a highly important requirement, while the opposite is true in the rest of the world (The differences between regions will be compared further in a future article).

So what draws people to coworking? Why don’t they stay at home, or work in an old-fashioned office? Because they want flexibility and interaction, the survey shows.

When asked about the most important factors for their work, coworkers rank flexible work times as the highest (86%). Equally important is interaction with other people (86%), and the ability to share knowledge with them (82%). Coworkers also place high value on the random opportunities and discoveries made through such interaction (79%).

Those factors rank ahead of concerns such as price - 72% say the low cost of coworking is important. Interestingly, only 42% say that having a quiet and secluded place to work is important.

Location matters, especially at lunchtime

When it comes to choosing a coworking space, coworkers give consideration to the surrounding neighbourhood. And for the majority (81%), having food options such as snack bars or restaurants nearby is highly important. Nearly two-thirds also want a supermarket in the vicinity. 34% look for office services nearby, but only 8% need childcare facilities in the neighbourhood.

Forty percent of coworkers work daily, 19% work three to four times each week, 16% come in once or twice a week, and the remainder drop in a few times each month. Just over half of all users (54%) have 24-hour access, 31% work during traditional office hours, and the remainder work a limited number of days per month. The survey shows that options such as half-day or evening use are unpopular, with less than 1% of respondents utilizing such arrangements.

As well as flexible working hours, respondents enjoy having flexible workspaces – those that offer the coworking visa, which allows users to visit other coworking offices. Almost half (43%) said they would be interested in having one membership that allows them access to many coworking spaces worldwide. Yet only 7% said they would like this option on a city-wide basis, and 15% on a country-wide basis, showing that the coworking visa concept has mostly international appeal.

People count more than infrastructure

So what is the main result of the survey? When asked what coworkers love about their coworking space, an overwhelming majority said it was the friendly atmosphere and other coworkers who made it enjoyable.

The survey attracted responses from 661 participants in 24 countries. More results will be released in the coming days and weeks.


All articles on the Global Coworking Survey:

Start: Why coworkers like their coworking spaces

Part 1: What coworkers want

Part 2: The Coworker's Profile

Part 3: The Coworking Space

Part 4: Female coworkers vs. male coworkers

Part 5: Coworkers in the U.S.

Part 6: MacOS vs. Windows - Firefox vs. Chrome

Part 7: Small Town vs. Big City Coworking

Part 8: The Non-Coworkers

Part 9: North America vs. Europe

Part 10: The changing needs of coworkers over time

Part 11: The strenghts of small and big coworking spaces

Part 12: The Age Groups

ssfCoworking Statistics