Rural coworking spaces have yet to see the business benefits of remote work.
Overall, many of these issues explain the current business situation and why coworking spaces in small towns and rural areas are doing particularly poorly right now. Only 25 to 30 percent report that business is good.
They are also recovering more slowly from the effects of the pandemic than their counterparts in large cities, where 60 percent currently report a good business situation.
These results are also surprising in light of the remote work trend. Many companies relaxed attendance requirements during the pandemic and allowed their employees to work outside the company office. For them, the alternative work location during the pandemic was mostly at home.
Once the pandemic was over, the trend was expected to persist. However, since the home office is not a permanent ideal work location for many employees, it was also expected that they would increasingly use coworking spaces as an alternative work location on some days of the work week, especially for employees in smaller cities and rural areas with long commutes to company offices.
In view of the lack of a sufficient number of members and the poor economic situation, this assumption cannot yet be confirmed. At least the economic situation has not yet benefited from such a trend.
On the other hand, a large number of coworking spaces have been founded in rural areas in the last two years. Overall, they are much younger than elsewhere and still in the start-up phase, with all the problems that entails.
Findings in a nutshell:
Those coworking spaces that still exist in large cities have recovered more quickly from the pandemic's economic upheaval, but are now facing particularly high property prices and inflation. However, as their economic situation shows, they are generally coping well.
Coworking spaces in rural areas and small towns do not have these problems, but they also lack enough members to be economically viable and create a vibrant community.
If the trend towards remote working has become sustainable post-pandemic, it has so far bypassed coworking spaces in these areas - at least to reach pre-pandemic economic levels. However, on average they are much younger than in other regions and therefore deal much more often with the problems that all very young coworking spaces face.
The survey is not a rating of individual coworking spaces
This survey provides an overall picture from which trends can be derived. However, it is not an assessment of individual locations. Successful and vibrant coworking spaces can be found in the countryside, just as some (so-called) community workspaces in big cities could serve as a suitable filming venue for 'The Last of Us'.
The survey will run until the end of May. Some of the questions on which this article is based will be replaced by new ones. If you are a member or operator of a coworking space and have not yet participated, we invite you to take the survey at CoworkingSurvey.com. The more people who take part, the more detailed the results we can share!
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278 individuals representing flexible workspaces, primarily coworking spaces, were included in the analysis of this report. Their responses have been received between February 9 and March 30, 2023. During this time, 64% came from Europe, 21% from North America and 15% from other continents.