This week Regus, a very large global operator of business centers, issued a press release claiming that they are the world's largest provider of coworking facilities. They also claimed they pioneered the concept of coworking two decades ago.
Not surprisingly this caused quite a stir in the coworking community. They don't think Regus even offers coworking, much less invented it.
I find this press release interesting because Regus is basically validating the coworking trend. We recently posted that we believe coworking is at a growth inflection point, and that coworking facilities are rapidly gaining traction as a work location option.
Obviously Regus agrees.
And it's not just Regus. The business center industry in general is starting to embrace coworking. This is quite a switch. They've been very skeptical about coworking. Their view has been that coworking only appeals to a very small group of techies.
It's always a two-edged sword for startups when a big, incumbent competitor recognizes and reacts to them. The good news is awareness among potential customers goes up. The bad news is big competitors usually have a lot of market power.
We think this move is a net positive for both Regus and coworking facilities. While office centers and coworking facilties do compete, in most cases they serve different market segments. See Tony Bacugalupo's (the founder of the New Work City coworking facility) excellent post on how office centers and coworking spaces are different for more details (he also covers startup accelerators).
Since they serve different segments, both can thrive - especially given the overall growth in demand for flexible, shared office spaces.
As we pointed out last year, coworking is rapidly expanding, evolving and mutating. There is almost a Cambrian Explosion of new types and forms of coworking spaces. Business centers embracing coworking will lead to even more shared workspace diversity.
For those not familar with coworking and coworking facilities, take a look at our Voices of Coworking video to hear coworkers describe coworking and its benefits.