In 2011, there were 1,130 coworking spaces with 43,000 members. Now there are an estimated 3,800 spaces around the world, with more than a million people coworking. In that time, coworking has gone from a small movement to a global industry.
We spoke with Liz Elam, executive producer of the Global Coworking Unconference Conference (GCUC) and founder of Link Coworking in Austin, Texas, about the current state of coworking, where the industry is headed, and the changing nature of work. Here are the highlights of our conversation.
Cat Johnson: We know that coworking is experiencing incredible growth around the world. What does that look like on a practical level? Who is building spaces and why?
Liz Elam: We’ll see the biggest surge coming from corporate America. It will be directly tracked back to disengagement of workers. It’s an innovate or die moment. If companies don’t include coworking into their business, people will vote with their feet. They don’t have to work for you—they will go where they want to be.
By corporate coworking, do you mean spaces for corporate employees or spaces that are owned by corporations?
All of the above. And also corporations turning their spaces into what feels and looks more like a coworking space.
How is that growth impacting the workplace industry and coworking movement as a whole? What kind of changes are you seeing in the industry?
We’re seeing a lot more competition than we’ve ever seen before. For a long time, the mantra was, ‘You can’t build them fast enough for the growth coming your way.’ But in little Austin, Texas, we’ve got two million people, 55 coworking spaces, and more on the way.
There is a lot more competition, so it’s starting to drive change in the industry. I don’t necessarily think that’s a bad thing. You have to become more nimble; you have to look at other sources of income; you have to produce events. You can’t just open a space and think people are going to come in. That’s never worked and that’s more so now than ever.
To read the rest of this awesome piece by Cat Johnson click here!