Since many workers left their computers under their arms last year to continue their work activities from home, the health crisis has redefined many aspects of the classic relationship between work and office. Some have not yet returned to it and others will no longer. Or at least not like before. For the coworking, shared spaces where entrepreneurship flourishes, this situation has opened new and promising paths for the future, which pass, among other aspects, due to a change in the client profile, coexistence with teleworking in hybrid systems or the contribution to the welfare of the Username.
When some jobs ceased to be a go-to place for something that can be done from different places, and individual activity gave way to cooperation, challenges began to emerge. coworking. “Even within the companies themselves,” says Matías Rodríguez, director of Studio Banana, a multidisciplinary firm that designs and develops collaborative workspaces for other companies. “And it has accelerated a lot as a result of the pandemic,” he continues. “With a great nuance: now they are going to have to serve new audiences.”
The more numerous users of these work centers, such as entrepreneurs or freelancers, have recently been joined by more medium-sized companies. This is stated by María Calvo, business director of Impact Hub, an international network of coworking of social impact, with a presence in Madrid, Barcelona and Zaragoza, among other cities. These are companies “with more than 50 or 100 workers who seek to leave their traditional office or design a hybrid model that makes it possible to take advantage of the best of physical spaces and teleworking”.
This is not an isolated case. At The Shed, in Madrid, they also recognize a change in client and a growing interest in the hybrid model that, they believe, is here to stay. “Financially, they are going to see that having a fixed expense on a fixed asset in a space is something that does not make much sense,” says Carlos Llerena, manager of the space. “And from the performance point of view, these types of spaces, the activity, the energy, the environment, the characteristics … are more pleasant than in a conventional cold office.”
In the new path that the pandemic has opened, Rodríguez believes that these spaces will be a kind of fishing ground for corporate clients. “Some are already being conceived thinking that their largest occupants are going to be corporate and therefore they understand that there may be some needs that differ from those of the traditional user,” he says. The capacity for transformation and the strengthening of aspects related to technology and its use will be fundamental points.
“The space has to be like a void that we fill in depending on the needs,” says José Molina Talavera, manager of Be Working, located in Malaga. Before the health crisis, its main line of business was the jobs of coworking and now they see how the use of training rooms increases and how virtual office services, whose demand was almost nonexistent, are gaining ground.
A current that they have also noticed in Vortex, in Valencia. “These are companies that for the moment have chosen to leave their physical office and need a commercial and postal address and a reference space where they can hold their team or client meetings,” says Cristina Trilles, founder and manager. In this space, they have also seen how the foreign user, who accounted for 75% of their requests, has given way to the national.
Membership flexibilization is a phenomenon that has been seen mainly in larger spaces and cities. The monthly rates coexist with the daily or hourly rates, the fixed positions with the variable ones and new dynamics have been opened, such as the possibility of alternating between different members of a team. “For this we have had to rely a lot on technology. It has promoted the flexibility of the offer, the digital transformation and the improvement of the visual experience ”, asserts Calvo.
For those smaller, outside of Madrid or Barcelona, the trend seems to point in the opposite direction and stable clients gain weight. “95% of our positions are permanent. It was very useful for us to prevent outbreaks and to make people feel safe ”, says Iago Barreiro, founder, together with Tobias Lipp, of Modular Multiespazo, in Santiago de Compostela.
Most, however, agree that they do not establish bonds or long-term commitments, which leaves a lot of room for response and adaptation to users. “We do not have a contract of permanence, the only requirement is a month in advance. You can have three workers here and the following month not have them ”, points out Sandra Regueira, supervisor of The Roof, in A Coruña.
In general, in these spaces the well-being of their occupants has always been taken into account, but now that aspect is presented as something more and more important. “Things like nutrition or fitness or even psychological well-being come into play …”, says Rodríguez. “And, suddenly, there is a lot of operator that already has restaurants that offer certain types of food, or they have agreements with gyms or there are gyms within those same spaces …”, he adds. “We are going in a direction from coworking to the coliving. We want to create an ecosystem between people, that they help each other “, says Lipp,” we organize yoga classes, on Friday we have a little wine, we have projects in common … “.
In front of the spaces that could be defined as generalist, another variant emerges that seeks a more niche position. This is the case, for example, of Nolich, in Valencia, which was born as a project that sought to reactivate the audiovisual industry of the territory and which turned after the pandemic. “We concluded that, with digitization, a key factor for our community would be to create a hub of digital creative talents, going beyond the audiovisual sector ”, Hernán Pérez, CEO, stated in an email.
Despite the fact that many of these spaces were emptied because of Covid-19 and some have been left by the wayside, the forecasts are optimistic. Furthermore, teleworking is seen as an opportunity rather than a threat. “When working from home there are always distractions, be it children or chores to do. Come to a coworking it helps to disconnect from all that to be able to better connect with your work and with colleagues to regain the motivation that was lost, in many cases, during confinement, ”says Pérez.