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Why Shared Workspaces Are More Important Than Ever

Date: 03/02/2021
In March 2020, when the workforce was rapidly adjusting to a global pandemic, one focal point in the discourse concentrated on solo offices. There was a collective assumption that all would want to be isolated.
However, at The Economist’s Innovation @Work Virtual Week, WeWork CEO Sandeep Mathrani spoke of the unexpected shift that we at LMHQ have noticed as well: an increasing interest in open, flexible spaces. Having been isolated for so long, individuals are recognizing the importance of in-person collaboration. As people have grown accustomed to this new way of living and working, they have realized that this kind of work can be done safely, and if folks are still going to be remote for part of their workweek, further isolation seems to be counterproductive. 
Covid has forced everyone to reconsider the ways we work. Companies have recalibrated daily operations. Office managers are amending their leases, and human-resource departments are reconsidering their employees’ needs. At a cursory glance, it may appear that coworking spaces have been rendered obsolete. According to the real-estate investment firm CBRE, Manhattan office-space providers who leased 4.7 million square feet in 2018 had only leased 300,000 square feet in 2020. With The Assemblage, Knote, and Breather closing their physical spaces and several others, including The Wing, closing at least temporarily, it would certainly seem that way. But, as shared-workspace experts ourselves, what we have witnessed repeatedly is that these spaces are needed now more than ever. 
Companies are undoubtedly looking for more flexible solutions to maintain their businesses. After months of quarantining in shoebox apartments, particularly here in New York City, staffers crave a sense of community, and, with increasing operational costs and more companies shifting to hybrid work models, many may question the need to commit to the full-time lease. Even in the coworking world, contracts have moved to a more flexible model. We’ve frequently heard how the hub-and-spoke model is the way of the future, because, while companies want relief from their long-term leases, their workers still require a physical space where they can come together and collaborate, or even just have a spontaneous conversation across teams, departments and management levels at the coffee bar.  
We’re all still searching for answers to what the future holds, but we’re sure that the desire to collaborate and connect with one another is going to be even more necessary. Shared workspaces are the solution, providing the need for flexibility and financial stability while giving employees room to work remotely at their leisure — and have a space to meet when they need it.