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The Shared Workplace in The Sharing Economy

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Macrotrends. Two big changes in the U.S. economy are colliding and complementing each other: the notion of the “sharing economy” and the rise of the “shared workplace.” A big, multipart report explains the trend.

The source is commercial real estate giant CBRE (free registration required), who summarizes their findings as follows:

The shared workplace is undergoing a rapid and unprecedented transition. Co-working, a type of shared workplace, is an emerging model which provides many of the amenities of traditional serviced offices but places a much greater emphasis on designing space that creates a community and an experience for users. This model has proven to bring a unique energy and connectivity to the shared workplace that previously had not existed.

Let’s get that into plain language: the way we work is changing. And if you read the rest of the report, the way we make things and buy things is changing. This is a big deal.

Coworking Space

© Flickr user Clive Darra

First, what is a co-working space? The website coworking.com offers a handy definition:

Coworking is redefining the way we do work. The idea is simple: that independent professionals and those with workplace flexibility work better together than they do alone. Coworking answers the question that so many face when working from home: “Why isn’t this as fun as I thought it would be?”

(They’ve also got a list of core values, tons of resources, and active blog, and more. It’s a neat site.) But what do the data wonks at CBRE have to say about this trend? They write in their report:

To date, co-working spaces are largely occupied by independent workers who have sought a cost-effective place to work outside the home. However, large occupiers seeking flexible, lower-cost and attractive solutions are beginning to show interest in this emerging space. In fact, the CBRE 2015/2016 Americas Occupier Survey, which provides a consensus view on the strategies and priorities of 226 Americas-based corporate real estate (CRE) organizations, found that more than 40% of respondents are using or considering shared workplaces.

If two-fifths of the major commercial real estate brokers in the country are looking at coworking, then the industries they serve can’t be far behind. CBRE offers the following figures for tenants/occupiers. These numbers come from surveys of the executive at companies responsible for real estate decisions:

  • Companies currently using or considering serviced/furnished offices: 18%
  • Companies currently using or considering co-working spaces: 14%
  • Companies currently using or considering business incubators: 7%

That’s a big deal considering the word co-working didn’t exist until 2005. So what does all this mean?

Coworking from Coffee Shop

© Flickr user Andreas Kontokanis

We’ve said it before. We’ll say it again. Work isn’t a place you go, it’s a thing you do. Having an office might have made sense when it was really hard to work from anywhere except an office. And lots of work—such as manufacturing, retail services, types of healthcare, and more—require specialized equipment and facilities. But more and more of us are doing more and more work with a screen and a telephone, which means it can be done from anywhere.

Here at AccelaWork, that’s what we’ve always done. We don’t tell our team members when and where they have to work. In fact we don’t try to control much about their work at all. Our focus is on quality, not on being at the office.

One pull quote from the CBRE report stood out:

In this economy, there is a shift from valuing status to valuing performance…places and spaces need to reflect this. -Thom Mayne

Performance is what matters, not the corner office. If the real estate market is starting to realize this, imagine what is coming next.

Find out more in our coverage of part two of this report.

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Robby Slaughter
Robby Slaughter is a workflow and productivity expert. He is a nationally known speaker on topics related to personal productivity, corporate efficiency and employee engagement. Robby is the founder of AccelaWork, a company which provides speakers and consultants to a wide variety of organizations, including Fortune 500 companies, regional non-profits, small businesses and individual entrepreneurs. Robby has written numerous articles for national magazines and has over one hundred published pieces. He is also the author of several books, including Failure: The Secret to Success. He has also been interviewed by international news outlets including the Wall Street Journal. Robby’s newest book is The Battle For Your Email Inbox.
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