The Evolution of the Shared Workspace Industry (and Where We’re Going Next)



Liz Elam has a unique, insider’s perspective on the global workspace industry. Executive producer of the Global Coworking Unconference Conference and owner of Link Coworking in Austin, Texas, Elam is in constant contact with coworking space operators around the world.

In November, Elam published The Coworking Megatrends for 2018. The article offers an insightful look into the near future of the shared workspace industry. The megatrends Elam sees coming down the pike include:

  • The demand for alternative workspace will continue to thrive.
  • WeWork will continue to open spaces at a dizzying rate with a seemingly endless supply of money.
  • Real Estate developers realize they need need coworking in their developments however, they’re not finding enough operators that are willing, and able to scale.
  • The biggest trend we’ll see in 2018 is a focus on health and overall wellness.

I recently chatted with Elam to dig a bit deeper into her megatrends. We talked about the ways corporations are entering the shared workspace market, coworking as part of a shift in, not just how we work, but how we live our lives, and how a focus on wellbeing is the future of coworking. As Elam explained:

“Health is the new black. That is the new buzzword because that is where this is going. Clients come in and show me everything and I ask them where the focus on health is. If you’re not focused on health, you are not going to be in business in a few years. People need that.”

This year’s GCUC USA will include what Elam calls a “really frank discussion” with coworking space operators. She hopes to help them understand that they need a solid business model in place to survive the onslaught of big coworking. As she puts it, running a coworking space is “not all sunshine and rainbows.”

“This is hard and you’d better have your act together. When WeWork does start to hurt you—and they will—you’ve got to be able to survive it. You just need to survive because members will come back, and they’ll come back in droves because you offer a more meaningful and smaller community…We have a very clear advantage, but you’ve got to survive to be in the game.”

What trends do you see coming for the shared workspace industry? What do you see from you unique vantage point?

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