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Most coworking spaces have more members than desks, yet the effective use of their desks is just under 50% since not all coworkers work at the same time. The majority of workspaces therefore seem to have room for more new members. This is particularly good to know at the end of summer, which is the time most coworking spaces sign up the majority of new members. This article in the series of the global coworking survey results looks at the development within coworking spaces themselves.
By Carsten Foertsch - Monday, 17 January 2011

The coworking survey asked respondents which month they started their membership. From this, we were able to pinpoint the most popular time of year for new coworkers to begin. Most new coworkers sign up in September, shortly after the summer holidays. Another somewhat smaller peak occurs in April. There are two smaller waves shortly after the start of the year and at the start of summer.

It doesn't look so different in the southern hemisphere. In countries such as Australia or Brazil most new members also come in September, followed by August. There, it is not late summer but early springtime.

As was revealed by a Coworking study of Entreprise Globale - a Belgian think tank - most spaces have more members than desks. However, the global survey showed that the average desk utilization is just under 50%. How to explain this apparent contradiction? Quite simply, not all coworkers are present at the same time. Up to 30% drop in to work at very sporadic times. And most of coworkers don't work 24 hours in a row.

The smaller the coworking space, the higher the desk utilization load factor - unsurprisingly caused by the very restricted number of desks. Smaller spaces have also an higher number of coworkers renting permanent desks, and who come to work regularly. At least they pay more often for a fulltime ticket according to the global survey.

The bigger the coworking space, the lower the desk utilization load factor. Larger spaces have more flexible desks, so they need to provide more empty desks. Interestingly, there's a slight exception for spaces with 50 to 99 desk spaces. But with a utilization rate of around 50%, most of spaces have a lot more room for new coworkers.

Just under a third of all coworking spaces have desks for less than 19 coworkers. The average coworking space provides desks for 38 coworkers at the same time. A quarter of all spaces offer desk spaces for more than 50 coworkers.

How does this affect the organization of work spaces, and who makes the decisions? In small coworking spaces, either managers or coworkers have a higher say over how things are run. As the size increases, it becomes more likely that important decisions are made by coworkers and managers together.

And how good do coworking spaces sell their concept to the general public? 70% of all coworkers think they are doing a good job. And personal contact seems to be the most important factor.

When asked how they heard of their coworking space for their first time, 50% report they came in touch with them by friends or colleagues. One in four read about it for the first time in a newspaper or an online article. Direct searches via search engines such as Google currently play a minor role (17%). Advertising seems to reach the least number of people, which is not surprising for such a new market, and will change in the future as more coworking spaces open, as more normal and professional they will become and as more difficult it will be to attract media attention.


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