As the world emerges from the pandemic, the coworking industry is facing a dynamic landscape. The general public is seeking flexibility in work arrangements, and companies are increasingly exploring new ways to optimize their office space. In this context, understanding the evolving trends in coworking is essential for companies that want to remain competitive.
One way to gain insight into this industry is to analyze web search trends. In a recent study of coworking market trends, CoworkingCafe examined search interest on four related topics: “coworking,” “virtual offices,” “shared office spaces” and “private office spaces.”
In addition to a 12-month overview of the search trends, the study also provides insights into the geographical distribution of search interest for each category, as well as a historical overview of how the concept of coworking entered the mainstream.
Coworking’s Steady, Two-Decade Rise
The search interest in coworking has been on a steady upward trend for more than two decades, with sudden surges in popularity occurring in the years leading up to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In fact, data from Google Trends showed that the term “coworking” began to gain attention in 2004 and has been growing ever since, with notable spikes in 2017, 2020 and most recently in 2021.
Specifically, between the late 2000s and early 2020, coworking experienced a significant increase in interest. As such, the search interest for coworking was already well ahead on its upward trajectory prior to the pandemic. Moreover, apart from a brief drop during the worst of the lockdown periods, the crisis undoubtedly accelerated the trend even further.
More precisely, June 2021 holds the all-time high for “coworking”-related searches. At that time, demand from remote workers had picked up considerably after more than a year of social isolation, and a wave of office downsizing was also underway amid the economic uncertainty.
Combined, these factors brought optimism into the coworking space industry and new locations were also being announced nationwide by then.
Search Term #1: “Coworking”
Search interest for “coworking” remained high throughout the last 12 months, peaking in late July 2022.
In this case, the overall stability of the “coworking” keyword’s high popularity suggests that coworking spaces are becoming a widely accepted option for businesses and individuals looking for flexible workspace solutions. Furthermore, it also indicates that seasonality has minimal influence on the public’s interest in such working arrangements.
According to the report, the interest was highest for coworking in Washington, D.C. It was followed by Hawaii, Colorado, New York state and Oregon.
Search Term #2: “Virtual Offices”
The search interest for virtual offices began at a high level last February, then further increased until mid-March, when it reached its highest point within the last 12-month period. After this, interest decreased steadily until November, briefly interrupted by two prominent spikes in July and August.
Once again, the top regions for search interest in virtual offices were led by Washington, D.C.; Georgia; New York; Virginia; and Maryland.
Accordingly, this trend suggests that virtual offices are gaining popularity as a viable alternative to traditional office spaces. That’s because this subscription type caters to remote businesses that require phone/mail services and an address in a prominent location, but who don’t need to use the physical office space regularly.
Search Term #3: “Shared Office Spaces”
Search interest in shared office spaces has remained steady in the last year with a peak score in July, coinciding with the peak for the generic “coworking” query.
However, it’s not a coincidence: Although shared office spaces are a coworking subscription type in which all clients share the same open-layout office space and amenities, the expression is also commonly used as an alternative term for the wider concept of coworking spaces. Thus, given the significant overlap in search intent, a similar interest pattern was expected to emerge.
The top regions for search interest in shared office spaces were New York; Colorado; Washington, D.C.; Virginia; and New Jersey.
Search Term #4: “Private Office Spaces”
Meanwhile, search interest in private office spaces remained relatively low during the last year, just recently peaking in January. Interestingly, the low overall search volume amplified the relative fluctuations, drawing more pronounced spikes on the interest-over-time chart. What’s more, for this keyword, there were also three weeks during the last 12-month period that registered no noteworthy activity.
That said, the CoworkingCafe analysis suggested that these gaps should close as coworking topics gain more attention in the future.
The top regions for search interest in private office spaces were New York, Illinois, California, Texas and Florida.
This trend suggests that private office spaces are not as popular as other coworking options, but nevertheless remain a viable alternative for businesses seeking a higher-end coworking solution for a regular office presence for their small- and medium-sized teams.
Clearly, Google search trends can provide valuable insights into the coworking space industry. The data analyzed in this article suggests that coworking spaces and the virtual office niche, in particular, continues to attract the public’s attention as we settle into the “new normal.”
At the same time, the industry is stabilizing and thereby maintaining consistent levels of interest for the most flexible membership types.
Of course, it’s important to note that these trends vary in different regions, but the study confirms that most of the search activity — therefore, presumably, the core of the demand for coworking spaces — is concentrated in the large business hubs, especially those with a highly active startup scene.
This article first appeared in Coworking Insights here.
FLEXIBLE WORKSPACE AUSTRALIA
Flexible Workspace Australia is the peak body for coworking and flexible workspace providers and partners across all cities and regions of Australia.