Editor’s note: Innovation Thursday is a regular series in WRAL TechWire focusing on thought-leading companies, entrepreneurs and trends.
RALEIGH – If you happen to be searching for Triangle coworking locations that offer single-day passes or regular, recurring workspace, you might be interested to learn that Tuesdays and Thursdays are most in demand. But demand for flexible space, whether coworking or fully-leased and occupied, continues to rise in the Triangle.
Space operator WeWork found that for the two locations in the Triangle, the most popular day for “all access” bookings was Tuesday while “on demand” bookings was Thursday.
It’s not just the Triangle, either, as WeWork’s study found those to be the most popular coworking days globally.
One thing is clear, said Suzie Russell, Territory Vice President of Atlantic, WeWork, in an interview with WRAL TechWire: the COVID-19 pandemic shifted how and why workers and companies use spaces.
The result, according to Russell, is that commercial real estate operators are observing a spike of interest in spaces and places that can provide flexibility and optionality.
“I’m not anticipating any slowing of demand for flexible space, whether for coworking, startups, or companies with large footprints in the Triangle,” said Nick Jordan, the founder and CEO of Durham’s SmashingBoxes and the founder of Durham Bottling Company, in an early August interview. “If anything, I expect we’ll see increasing demand as more people and companies wish to work in the region.”
Flex space in demand at Triangle coworking locations – and beyond
A January 2022 report from CBRE found that interest in more flexible space is appealing to organizations of any size, whether small, mid-size, or large. But large companies in particular are planning to make a “very significant” investment in increasing their flexible space, which the CBRE report noted would represent more than 50% of a company’s footprint. While about 4% of small companies and 12% of mid-sized companies planned to make this move in the next two years, 18% of large companies expect to add more flexible space.
One example of a recent firm that’s changed their existing space to provide more collaborative work areas is Eaton, which completely renovated its Raleigh office in advance of preparing to increase staffing levels by about 25% and provide that “very significant” footprint of flexible, collaborative spaces.
And a December 2021 report on flex space from JLL showed that demand in the commercial real estate’s office sector is moving toward flexible formats, and as a result, landlords are incorporating these offerings into their portfolios and plans.
Coworking increasing, too
But for those companies that don’t yet need a whole facility, every day, coworking spaces are a potential match.
“We’ve learned that when it comes to workplace strategies, one size doesn’t fit all,” Russell told WRAL TechWire. “While we’re still seeing many companies come to us looking for private offices with access to our shared amenities, we’re also seeing businesses leverage our flexible space solutions.”
Russell described the results of a blind survey conducted for the company, which found that employees are seeking to spend about one-third of their work time at a headquarters location, about one-third of their work time at home, and the final one-third of their work time at smaller satellite offices, flexible shared offices, or other public spaces known as “third spaces.”
And that’s where the company is seeing demand in the Triangle, with an increase of 35% in “all access” bookings and a 68% increase in “on demand” bookings of space between January 2022 and June 2022, said Russell.
“The Triangle is certainly a key market for us, in part because of the area’s strong appetite to get back into the office,” said Russell. “We are always looking for submarkets – that is, neighborhoods in metros in which we operate – for possible growth opportunities, especially as more and more companies embrace flexible workspace and seek hybrid solutions.”
Both Raleigh and Durham ranked near the top of a list of best U.S. cities for freelancers, released earlier this year. And the Triangle’s cities have also appeared ranked on lists of best places to move to in order to conduct remote work, as well.