1/18/24 · Economy

Businesses significantly reduce costs with coworking spaces

Companies are replacing offices with coworking spaces
Young people working in a coworking space

In Spain there are a total of 1,400 such spaces (Photo: Adobe Stock)

Spain is the fourth country in the world for coworking in terms of number and capacity, behind only the United States, India and the United Kingdom. In Spain there are a total of 1,400 such spaces, while in Catalonia the figure is between 450 and 500. Carles Méndez, a researcher at the UOC's Faculty of Economics and Business, explained that there are many reasons why such places are popular in Spain. "First, the Mediterranean climate and lifestyle attract professionals looking for a high quality of life. And, as well as attracting tourists, cities such as Barcelona (home to 80% of all such spaces in Catalonia) and Madrid attract tech companies."

In fact, the provinces with the highest density of coworking spaces apart from Barcelona and Madrid are Valencia, Malaga, Castelló and Granada, which are also the most important cities in Spain in terms of the creative and tech industries. This comes from the research that Méndez is carrying out at European level together with other international researchers as part of The Geography of New Working Spaces and the Impact on the Periphery, which will result the book Evolution of New Working Spaces to be published by Springer in Open Access in April 2024.

What changes have been experienced by this business sector as a result of the pandemic? Have the geographical locations of these types of places changed? As with practically all sectors, the pandemic has also affected the coworking sector. One of the most significant changes has been the growth of what is known as "urban corporate coworking spaces" or, in other words, the fact that many companies, especially those in large cities such as Barcelona, Madrid, Malaga and Valencia have chosen to replace their offices with rented coworking spaces.

The benefits of this step are numerous: "It allows them to adapt their operating space from one month to the next and reduce office costs such as utilities or rent, as well as adapting to the needs of their employees." Likewise, it's an attractive option for employees who do not feel comfortable teleworking all the time. "It is a subsector that is growing exponentially, and small and medium-sized companies are starting to see it as a great opportunity," said Méndez.


Increase in the metro area

The other major consequence of the pandemic, thanks to the rise in teleworking, is the proliferation of such spaces outside large cities too. There has been demand in other parts of Barcelona's metro area such as Sant Cugat del Vallès, Sabadell or Terrassa, as well as in rural areas. "In fact, it is gaining traction in depopulated areas, because many people want to move away from overcrowded cities in search of a better quality of life and cheaper spaces," said Méndez

But there have also been changes within the facilities themselves. "Many coworking spaces provide more flexibility and security, with larger spaces to allow for social distancing, more hygiene measures and telecommuting options." In addition, early on in the pandemic, when going to work in person was not allowed, the sector started to offer packages of online services, such as subscriptions to business services, receipt of goods, and distance training courses, among others.

As for the profile of users, the research study has found a growth in demand from new generations, including millennials and Generation Z. They're generally professionals with a university education working mainly in the creative industries, such as web development, graphic design and programming, or new media. The number of freelance and self-employed professionals has also increased. "They value flexibility and collaboration," Méndez said.



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