It is unsurprising that the pandemic has battered the coworking industry. “Come work near other potentially contagious people in an unventilated space” is something not even WeWork’s Adam Neumann could’ve sold as a good idea. Beloved spaces have been forced to shutter, some have managed to eke it out with reduced capacity, and the venture-backed behemoths are waiting it out, ready to capitalize on the accelerated move away from the traditional office.
But the way people work has forever changed. And it’s time to rethink what coworking is. Because even before the pandemic, it lost its way. As Neumann helped push it from community to commodity, coworking fell out of step with the modern worker. Now that most people have figured out how to get things done at home, the game has changed. Post-pandemic, we need spaces that understand the emotional life of professionals and facilitate an environment that actually improves their work.
It’s time to reimagine what our shared spaces can be. In other words, it’s time for Coworking 3.0.
A decade ago, coworking spaces were experiencing a burst of popularity—among workers and big companies. Coworking spaces could command up to five times the revenue per square foot of a traditional lease. As a result, venture capital dollars flowed into the system.