by: Larry Alton
Have you seen a jump in the number of “shared” office spaces in and around your city? The “shared” office model is rising in popularity and has been for the past decade. Back in 2007, the trend was almost unheard of, with only 14 documented coworking spaces in the United States. Now, there are more than 11,100, and we’re projected to see more than 26,000 spaces hosting 3.8 million people by 2020.
One of the biggest drivers of this trend is the emergence of millennials in the professional world. They’re becoming entrepreneurs, building and joining startups, and are starting to shape the trends of how and where we work. But why are coworking and shared office spaces so appealing to millennials in the first place?
What Is a “Shared” Office Space?
In case you aren’t familiar with the idea, a shared office space (or “coworking” space) is an abstractly defined location where individuals from multiple businesses can engage in work. In many cases, members of a shared workspace will pay a monthly membership fee, almost like a gym, for regular access to the building, and premium charges for accommodations like meeting rooms or special equipment.
So how are these office spaces able to thrive with the millennial population?
Shared office spaces are almost always cheaper than their full-office counterparts. Buying a large office could set you back tremendously, and leasing a space will cost at least several thousand dollars a month (especially in an urban center). With membership fees potentially under $100 a month, shared spaces have a major advantage.
2. Fewer responsibilities.
Millennial entrepreneurs who partake in shared space also have fewer responsibilities to worry about. Things like cleaning and maintenance are taken care of by the building’s owners. This is one reason why millennials tend to prefer renting over owning; most of the annoying tasks and responsibilities are already accounted for.
3. Networking opportunities.
In a shared office space, there are usually dozens of other people—if not hundreds—occupying the same location as you, and those demographics will likely change every month. It’s a perfect place to meet new people in the professional world, which is advantageous to the social millennial who wants to expand their professional network.
4. Smaller commitments.
Millennials also like the idea that they don’t have to commit. Leases tend to cover periods of several years, and owning a building is an investment that can (or should) last for a decade or longer. Shared office space, on the other hand, can be reduced to a monthly, daily, or hourly If your needs change often, this is a must.
5. Support for startups.
Though the data has led to mixed conclusions, most millennials love the idea of starting their own business, and many are following through on that entrepreneurial drive. Thanks to the availability of online resources, and the fast turnover rate for tech startups, creating a startup from scratch happens fast these days, and can be done with smaller teams. That increased, rapid-fire demand for startup space has been a boon for the shared office space industry; shared spaces are ideal for entrepreneurs with small budgets, uncertain futures, and a need for networking with other business owners.
6. Urban-centric locations.
According to Nielsen surveys, 62% of millennials prefer to live in urban centers, where access to resources like grocery stores, restaurants, and entertainment are convenient and mutually accessible to others. Shared office spaces usually occupy urban centers, making them a perfect fit in millennials’ dream locations. Centrally located, millennials can either walk to work easily or use the opportunity to explore more of their home city.
7. Resistance to traditional offices.
Finally, remember that millennials are resisting the urge to comply with traditional office structures (for better or worse). They’re breaking down corporate hierarchies, dismantling 9 to 5 mentalities, and even redefining social norms in business interactions. Shared offices offer more opportunities for individual expression, and offer a counterpoint to traditional office culture. To put it simply, they’re new and they’re hip.
Shared office spaces do have some disadvantages, of course; you’ll be limited in terms of what you can do with the space, and if you need to upgrade, you won’t have much infrastructure to scale (you’ll need to start again from scratch). Still, for the remote workers, entrepreneurs, and other millennial professionals out there, shared office spaces are quickly becoming the dominant choice in work.
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