By 2050, the idea of using a co-working space will be entirely mainstream, flexible work will be adopted by big corporates and the Internet of Things will be intertwined with working life.
That means over the next 30 or so years, co-working will evolve from niche to the norm.
Australia has witnessed an explosion in the number of co-working spaces in recent years – about a 400 per cent increase since 2013 – and Damien Sheehan, head of Regus parent company IWG in Australia and New Zealand, expects this to continue.
Sheehan says co-working will continue to sweep through the office space industry in Australia in coming decades, while saving businesses money, reducing their operating costs and boosting productivity.
“By 2050, we will see more businesses seizing the opportunity to become part of this workspace revolution, where one day co-working space and flexible working will just be called working,” he says.
Sheehan says shared office workplaces will become spaces for collaboration, both inside the office and remotely.
He says by using Internet of Things advancement like cloud computing, organisations will be able to decrease their office footprint and take advantage of the economic and social benefits of co-working and grow their workforce at the same time.
Sheehan also expects co-working to move outside the inner-city, thanks to improved transport infrastructure.
Co-working space to appeal to big business
Sheehan expects larger organisations to be drawn to co-working in coming years, as it allows them to “flex” up and down as needed.
He says they will look to co-working space to drastically reduce occupancy and operating costs.
“Beyond the economic benefits of co-working, there are many networking and community benefits that lead to enhanced productivity and motivation.”
Tech to be at the centre of the co-working space
While it’s difficult to predict what co-working spaces will actually look in 2050, Sheehan says technology will be key.
When Regus first opened its doors 30 years ago, offices had no computers, Wi-Fi or internet. “We could never have predicted many of the incredible innovations that now constitute a regular working day for most people,” he says.
The co-working spaces of the future will not only have to be equipped with the latest tech, but also designed around employee needs.
He says workplace and office design will continue to transform to allow employees to interact as part of their daily workflow.
“We can anticipate the mass downsize of physical office furniture and individual devices replaced with nimble, compact and efficient devices that are powered to do more.”