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WeWork is probably the globally most well-known brand that is associated with coworking. That is despite the fact that only a small part of the areas comply with the coworking space concept and most desks are located in private offices. With the roughly seven billion dollars they have so far collected in venture capital, WeWork has the potential to start a fierce competition with other coworking spaces. That is why in the latest Global Coworking Survey, we have asked how coworking spaces view the effects of the activities of WeWork on their own businesses.
By Carsten Foertsch - Tuesday, 16 January 2018

Half of all coworking spaces worldwide think that their economic perspectives are unaffected by WeWork. A fifth reported positive influences and a tenth reported negative influences. Around 20% of all coworking spaces hasn’t formed an opinion on this topic yet.

The PDF results of this article can be downloaded here.

The result isn’t really surprising, as WeWork only has a small global market share, like any other competitor, and is only represented in around 60 cities with their 250 locations. The relatively high share of positive opinions can probably be explained through the attention in the media that introduces the 'coworking' term to a wider audience.

WeWork is harming 40% of all coworking spaces in its close vicinity, however…

Reduced to the cities that WeWork is already active in, the coworking spaces there view their situation differently. Even though positive opinions are actually slightly on the rise, negative reports are more frequent here. Every third coworking space views WeWork as a threat to its economic perspectives.

However, this opinion depends on the concrete vicinity to the WeWork locations. Overall, the vast majority of the coworking spaces that report positive influences through WeWork are those that aren’t located in the direct vicinity to WeWork locations, but also not too far away.

Among the coworking spaces based in direct vicinity, within 1 km of the WeWork locations, negative opinions (40%) clearly outnumber the positive ones (26%). It’s impossible to derive an exact distance, as this depends on a number of factors, especially on the traffic link of the individual coworking spaces.

Profitable coworking spaces aren’t worried

On first glance, the general profitability of other coworking spaces isn’t affected by WeWork. Other coworking spaces in their vicinity even post above-average profits. Presumably, WeWork is opening locations in the most promising places. On the one hand, coworking spaces that are only mildly profitable often see their perspectives affected negatively by having WeWork in their vicinity. Already profitable coworking spaces on the other hand mostly report positive influences, even if another quarter of them sees their profits dwindle.

Older coworking spaces and those that have other locations themselves often feel more threatened by WeWork. Still, due to the fact that they are often already profitable, a larger number of them thinks WeWork will improve their perspectives.

The activities of WeWork are viewed especially critically by operators that think that there are already too many coworking spaces around, or where a sufficient market saturation is already established.

Two developments can be derived from those numbers. First, the closer the coworking spaces are to the WeWork locations, the worse they view their activities on their own business. Second, the more profitable a coworking space is, the more positively they view the influence of WeWork – although at least older coworking spaces often feel more threatened. In cities where WeWork is active, these developments overlap. With growing distance, the influences decline strongly. A minority of coworking spaces even views the presence of distant WeWork locations as significantly more positive than negative.

Next page: WeWork as the bogeyman – why WeWork is part of the Global Coworking Survey

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