The annual U.S. Global Coworking Unconference Conference (GCUC) was held last week in Los Angeles.
Based on what we saw, heard and learned, coworking is entering the mainstream. Our top 10 reasons why are:
1. The continued exponential growth of global coworking spaces and members: Carsten's Foertsch's excellent presentation on the coworking industry made it very clear our forecast at the 2014 GCUC that there would be 1 million coworking members by 2018 is woefully low. We'll be updating this forecast in the near future, but assume it's going way up.
2. Big Coworking is getting bigger - and more numerous: We first wrote about big coworking spaces in 2011, which at the time we defined as bigger than 20,000 square feet. Since then they've become much more numerous and much bigger, with spaces over 100,000 square feet increasingly common. WeWork is the obvious example, but there are now many, many more.
3. The real estate industry is embracing coworking: We regularly hear from real estate people developing shared spaces these days and they were active at GCUC. Since one of the industry's leading economists is suggesting that coworking's growth is "absolutely unprecedented", expect more participation from this giant industry.
4. Coworking continues to expand to new niches: Coworking continues to hybridize and verticalize with spaces being designed for a wide variety of target markets. A good example is MakeOffice's soon to be opened, 21,000 square foot space in Chicago targeted at health tech companies. Segmentation and growth into niche markets are clear signs of a maturing industry.
5. Business centers and coworking spaces have finally figured out they're in the same industry: The Alliance Business Center Network and GCUC are now partnering on these events . Also, the new executive director of the Global Workspace Association is a former coworking space owner. The recognition by each group of the value of the other will help the entire industry.
6. Successful coworking business models have emerged and exposure to the business center industry is making them stronger: Business centers have always been, on average, savvier and more sophisticated financially than coworking spaces. This financial knowledge is being transferred to the coworking industry.
7. Coworking's innovative approaches to space and community are making the business center industry stronger: Business centers/executive suites are also gaining from interactions with coworking spaces. In fact, it's time to get rid of the separate names and start calling them the flexible workspace or workspace-as-a-service industry.
8. Coworking is truly global. Conference speaker Jean-Yves Huwart discussed how coworking is taking off in Africa and Middle East. It's also booming in Asia and Europe. As we discovered last year on a trip to India and Dubai, there are coworking spaces everywhere. This is because the need for these spaces is universal.
9. Big corporations are moving into coworking: It seems almost everyday we hear about another big company getting involved in coworking. An interesting recent move by a big corporation is Verizon's partnership to develop workspace-as-a-service spaces with Grind.
10. WeWork continues to thrive: While other private "unicorns" are seeing their valuations get slashed (even Uber and Airbnb), both T.Rowe Price and Fidelity both marked up their valuation of WeWork last quarter. So even the tech slowdown is not (yet) impacting coworking.
Back in to 2012 we wrote about the Top 10 Signs Coworking is Growing Up. It's safe say coworking has entered adulthood. But at the same time it's still a nascent industry with lots of room for continued growth.