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Coworking spaces: The vacant office space opportunity?

coworking office space with biophilic design

Coworking spaces: The vacant office space opportunity?

Underused or vacant office space? Coworking hubs might just be the solution for your business. According to a 2022 report by commercial real estate brokerage Cushman & Wakefield, 87% of commercial landlords are considering offering coworking spaces across their portfolios. It’s clear to see that as companies adapt to flexible ways of working, both landlords and business owners are recognizing the potential benefits of providing coworking facilities and/or adapting to the hub-and-spoke office model within their commercial space. 

With thousands of workers switching to flexible working arrangements in the wake of the recent pandemic, many feel the home-working model is unsustainable for their long-term productivity and culture. Whilst coworking spaces were once the choice of small start-ups and freelancers, now all kinds of workers are exploring the opportunity to work in a space outside of their home that offers the essential comforts that a purpose-built workplace has to offer. 

What are coworking hubs?

Coworking is the use of shared workplaces by people who require flexibility. Members of a coworking space will typically share furniture, equipment and community amenities. There are key features that flexible workers expect from an effective coworking space: comfort, privacy, quiet zones, meeting rooms and rapid, reliable internet connectivity.

The Opportunities

As a result of changing working patterns in the wake of the recent pandemic,  many offices are not being used to their maximum potential. So with flexible working on the rise, some building owners and businesses are opting to convert underutilized office space into coworking space or to adapt to the hub-and-spoke office model.

What is the Hub and Spoke Model?

In the words of our client, Berdon LLP, the hub-and-spoke model is the idea to replace one large central office with several smaller ‘spoke’ offices spread throughout the area, supported by a small ‘hub’ office that serves mainly to coordinate the spokes. 

The Potential

Adapting your workspace can help alleviate two major challenges that building owners and occupiers currently face: vacant office space and untenable lengthy commercial leaseholds. But it’s important to recognize that the demand for flexible workspaces is on the rise too. With thousands of workers shifting to remote working, the provision of flexible working zones is hugely underserved.

Converting vacant office space 

Building owners and landlords who are struggling to lease traditional white box offices are faced with a new option: dynamic coworking spaces designed to attract membership contracts from small businesses and individuals. With traditional leases getting shorter and time spent in flex space increasing, creating a strong synergy between social and professional needs of hybrid workers presents a strong growth opportunity for landlords who are feeling the squeeze.

Subletting opportunities

Another opportunity that companies are beginning to explore is converting underutilized office or retail space for coworking purposes. Large corporations have been encouraging partners and suppliers to co-locate in their offices in order to cover the costs of idle space. Rather than subletting, Santander’s innovative Work Cafés encourage workers to take advantage of their coworking cafes free of charge, offering free meeting rooms in exchange for purchases of premium coffee and the promotion of their branded premises.

Key Considerations

Creating a successful coworking space requires a number of considerations: occupancy size, location, amenities, furniture, technology and security requirements will all have an impact on the scale and cost of the venture. 

Most coworking spaces begin with identifying a specific kind of sector or employee they want to attract. Whether you’re planning on developing a coworking space for tech start-ups, creative industries or corporate consultants looking for a space to focus, it’s critical to design a space that provides value for money for members. Some of the key expectations from coworking spaces include:

  • Quiet zones: putting concentration and productivity first 
  • Privacy pods: facilitating confidential communications
  • Comfortable workspace: ergonomic movable furniture, task-lighting and easy plug-and-play technology access
  • Formal and informal meeting rooms 
  • Secure premises: cameras, alarm system and secure networks
  • Amenities: good quality cafes offering a range of food and hot drinks are essential 
  • Wellbeing first: natural lighting, climate control and relaxation zones are key for creating healthy workspaces


Create a coworking space with RI today 

RI designs and builds functional spaces to foster productivity and build innovative, forward-thinking spaces for your business. We’re here to help you make the right choices and build a platform for future business growth and prosperity. Get in touch to discuss the future of your workplace.

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