Since the mid 2000s, coworking has been positively disrupting the commercial real estate industry. We say disrupting in the sense that it was a major change to the way businesses traditionally hunted for office space, but positively in that it offered much more affordable options for small businesses, freelancers, and others—the Creative Class—who were seeking a comfortable office space without breaking the bank.
While the business of coworking was once controlled by only a few private businesses, the concept of shared working spaces has expanded—especially in major urban areas like the Baltimore-Washington region. On the heels of this development is the concept of shared living spaces. While it might only seem like a temporary trend, if time has taught us anything in with coworking, it’s that it’s here to stay.
Retaining the Creative Class
We typically think of millennials as being the target demographic for shared living and working spaces. But author, researcher, and entrepreneur Richard Florida instead identifies the Creative Class as being the reason for the rapid growth of these buildings. Specifically, the Creative Class is a group of 40 million American workers whose creativity and innovation lead to economic growth and development. As a result, it’s vital for communities to attract and retain creative workers—otherwise, they risk falling behind in terms of development.
As recently as five years ago, the United States was home to 95% of the world’s venture capital upstarts, including big names like Google, Facebook, Microsoft, and Uber. Around these headquarters, neighborhoods have experienced increased productivity and higher standards of living. Recently, though, the US has dropped to 50%, with China, Canada, and India gaining speed. If this trend continues, the commercial real estate industry may be affected by the lack of Creative Class members seeking flexible living and working spaces.
All About Community
Part of the reason that coworking and living spaces are growing in popularity is shifting consumer needs. Rather than wanting to live in one area and work in another, those seeking flexibility and convenience thrive in town centers that offer housing, work, and play all in one location. The sense of community and its importance is on the rise, and this is especially the case with the Creative Class.
Communal spaces—even in commercial real estate—give tenants the opportunity to build a real community. Even if a person is working alone, they can still mingle with other, like-minded people and develop meaningful relationships and professional networks. Furthermore, being able to accomplish tasks like running errands helps the Creative Class save both valuable time and money in the long run—no more needing to worry about transportation costs (or the time-consuming traffic that comes with it). Convenience and flexibility are the keys to retaining the Creative Class.
Between June 2016 and June 2017, WeWork’s coworking spaces grew by 90%. And while startups, independent workers, and smaller companies have been the leading users of these work environments, larger, corporate companies—including certain offices of Amazon, Microsoft, and AirBNB—are also following suit.
As noted on their website, WeWork plans to open a Baltimore location soon. But for those who don’t want to wait, a quick online search returns a variety of coworking opportunities available in this region. For those who are interested in pursuing this opportunity, Murphy Commercial Real Estate can provide valuable advice on this kind of decision with its decades of professional commercial real estate experience.
Contact us today for more information on coworking and coliving spaces in the Baltimore-Washington region.