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Global study reveals co-working is here to stay

A new global study shows co-working is not a passing fad, revealing flexible working – often done in shared office space – is the new normal from Melbourne to Mumbai.

The International Workplace Group’s 2019 Global Workspace Survey of more than 15,000 professionals across different industries in 80 countries showed that more and more organisations are allowing staff to work where they want, in remote locations, and in co-working spaces.

The survey also showed an increasing number of organisations rely on more flexible workforce arrangements, such as freelancers and contractors, who often base themselves in co-working spaces.


The 9-5 working day is increasingly being replaced by one shaped by individual employees. Picture: Annie Spratt/Unsplash

In this multi-faceted environment, the “regular 9-5” is a thing of the past, according to IWG.

Many different types of workers are using various combinations of “workplace solutions” – home working, business lounges, remote offices, traditional office locations and co-working – rather than just a single solution.

Flexible working is the ‘new norm’

Mark Dixon, CEO and founder of IWG, says the world of work has changed dramatically.

“In last year’s report, we talked about reaching a tipping point in the uptake of flexible working and the workspace solutions that facilitate it. In 2019, with half of businesspeople globally reporting that they work outside one of their main office locations half the week or more, it is safe to say that we are way beyond that. Flexible working is the new norm,” he says.

While flexible workspace has a number of “strategic and financial” benefits for businesses, Dixon says it’s a people-driven movement.

Home office

The report found an uptick in people working from home offices, co-working spaces and airport lounges. Picture: Roberto Nickson/Unsplash

“Business leaders worldwide told us about the need to attract and retain the best talent, while four out of every five respondents stated that, given two similar job offers, they would turn down the one that didn’t offer them flexible working.”

It’s certainly the case in Australia, where the report found 74 per cent of people consider flexible working to be the new normal and 71 per cent of businesses currently had a flexible workspace policy.

Australia is also “particularly likely” to use flexibility to attract and retain top staff in an increasingly competitive talent market, with 85 per cent of Australian businesses, well above the global average of 77 per cent, reporting that they were using that strategy.

co-working space

According to the report, 58 per cent of Australian businesses have experienced a 20 per cent or above increase in productivity as a result of introducing a flexible workspace policy. Picture: Al Ghazali/Unsplash

‘Generation Flex’ – a new age of productivity

Dixon says there has been in a power shift across the globe. In many sectors, he says bosses no longer dictate what a regular working day looks like; rather, the employees, dubbed “Generation Flex” by IWG, are calling the shots.

“Business leaders have fully acknowledged the further benefits achieved by early adopters and are keen to get in on the action; not only are they fully aware that flexible working has made their business more productive (85 per cent), but a remarkable 67 per cent think that flexibility can improve productivity by at least a fifth.”

In Australia, 58 per cent of businesses report seeing a 20 per cent or above increase in productivity by having a flexible workspace policy.

Dixon says the evidence is stacking up that modern businesses must embrace a flexible working culture on at least some level to stay competitive.

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