There was a point when it seemed like the COVID-19 pandemic would be the death knell of co-working spaces. With stay-at-home orders and restrictions implemented on a national level, many prospective users of co-working space have instead spent the bulk of 2020 locked up in their own homes. But that could actually be a positive thing for co-working as the COVID-19 health crisis improves.
Why co-working is about to take off
Co-working spaces have long served an essential need. An estimated 16 million Americans were self-employed in July 2020, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data. As technology continues to evolve, it will become even more feasible for workers to do their jobs outside a traditional office.
But the COVID-19 pandemic itself could actually spark a major co-working boom in the not-so-distant future. In some areas of the country, the outbreak seems to be reasonably under control, and on a national level, the surge of cases we saw earlier this summer seems to be tapering off. Granted, the U.S. is not out of the woods on the COVID-19 front, but if the situation continues increasingly improving, co-working could quickly become a safe, viable option again. And at that point, remote workers could end up rushing to capitalize on it.
For months, self-employed Americans who would normally do their jobs from a local coffee shop or public space have instead been cooped up in their home offices. Similarly, a large number of salaried employees have been doing their jobs remotely, what with many offices being shut down in the course of the pandemic. It's these very people who will no doubt be itching to rejoin society once it's safe enough to do so, and co-working spaces could fulfill some very essential needs in this regard: human company and a change of scenery.
Let's also not forget that as more companies adjust to having mostly remote staff, they may seek to make that a more permanent model. That's bad news for investors in office buildings, who may find that lease renewals plummet in the coming year or so. But it's good news for those who opt to invest in co-working spaces, because remote employment doesn't work for everyone, and many people who aren't given an office to come back to might instead take matters into their own hands.
Is now the right time to invest in co-working spaces?
While there's no guarantee co-working spaces will really take off once the COVID-19 pandemic draws to a close, there's a good chance we'll see an uptick in worker demand for them. Co-working spaces often provide more than just a desk and an internet connection. For many workers, they're a social outlet, and one that an increasing number of people will crave even more as the monotony of COVID-19 living drones on. As such, now could really be an optimal time to start investing in co-working spaces -- or, at the very least, to not give up on them.