Investors and consumers alike are increasingly attracted to the idea of “disruptive” products or services, something that changes the way a traditional sector is run. This ranges from how we travel to how we eat, and in the past years one of the most innovative types of disruption seems to be how we work.
In recent years demand for co-working spaces services has increased dramatically, which in part explains why the idea of flexible offices has certainly caught the eyes of private equity firms. WeWork, one of the largest co-working providers, remains on the rise and received a $4.4bn backing from Softbank last year. The Instant Group recently reported that over 500 new flexible office spaces with 824,000 extra desks opened last year in the UK, bringing the total of these co-working spaces to 5,320.
Although the concept of co-working spaces is not something new, the trend remains positive in the industry. onefourzero looked at online searches for co-working in the past 12 months and the data confirms the consistent demand, with an increase of nearly 14%.
But we wanted to know what the people sitting in those desks thought of sharing an office space with other companies, rather than the more traditional option of working solely alongside those who are employed by the same firm. Will the appetite for shared working spaces continue or will the concept lose its shine? Looking at digital data we analysed online sentiment towards different options of workplace in the UK over the past year as a proxy for continued demand and customer cohorts.
As the above chart shows, online opinion about flexible working is much more positive than that about the other working environments. While 28.1% and 20.2% of online sentiment towards working in a traditional office and working from home were negative respectively, only 4.3% of sentiment was negative towards flexible co-working spaces such as The Office Group and Regus. When there is so much positive sentiment surrounding an idea and providers, it is a sign that the growth trends will only continue upwards.
Over the past year, online conversation about co-working spaces has increased by 7%. Such growth, along with the positive sentiment we found online towards these types of working spaces, shows that the sector is still expanding. This expansion makes it an excellent investment opportunity.