23 October 2023

The Rising Trend of Coworking Spaces in the UK: A Look at the Numbers and Challenges

Coworking spaces in London

The demand for flexible workspace solutions is rising in a rapidly changing business landscape. We at Sketch Labs have conducted a study and as we are an office search agency, we can reveal that searches for ‘coworking space’ in the UK have increased by a staggering 100% from 2018 to 2023.

Our study shows that this surge over the last five years reflects the changing dynamics of work in the country, driven by the growing popularity of remote and hybrid working models. Let’s delve into the numbers and trends reshaping how we think about workspaces in the UK.

The Coworking Explosion

The data gathered shows that the search for ‘coworking space’ has doubled over the last five years, indicating a profound shift in how individuals and businesses approach their work environments. This trend aligns with a global perspective, as it’s estimated that by 2024, the number of people using coworking spaces worldwide will reach an impressive 5 million, marking a twofold increase from 2021. In 2018, there were approximately 18,700 coworking spaces worldwide, and this number is expected to surge by 125% in the next year, highlighting the rapid growth of the industry.

Challenges in the Coworking Landscape

While the exponential growth in coworking spaces is exciting, it also brings certain challenges to the forefront, especially for startups and freelancers. Historically, coworking spaces attracted these demographics due to their affordability and the wide array of amenities they offer. However, the increased appeal of coworking spaces has piqued the interest of larger corporations, resulting in greater demand. This shift can create challenges for smaller businesses, including concerns about overcrowding and service quality.

Mark Knops, Founder and CEO of Sketch Labs, explains, “Pairing smaller offices with coworking passes benefits larger corporations through cost savings and flexibility, but poses challenges for service providers. Managing overcrowding, complex contracts, operational efficiency, and taking a proactive and client-focused approach becomes essential when navigating this hybrid model.”

Coworking spaces taking premium spot in london

Benefits for Companies Opting for Coworking Passes

Despite the challenges, there are numerous benefits for businesses that choose to incorporate coworking passes into their office strategies:

  1. Cost Savings: Renting a smaller office reduces real estate expenses, offering a cost-effective solution for remote or occasional office work.
  2. Flexibility: Employees can choose when to work in the office, enhancing job satisfaction and work-life balance.
  3. Resource Efficiency: Smaller offices and coworking passes optimise resource allocation, fostering productivity and cost-efficiency.
  4. Community and Networking: Coworking spaces provide access to diverse professionals, leading to valuable networking opportunities and knowledge sharing.
  5. Hybrid Work Models: This aligns with the trend of hybrid work, accommodating diverse employee work preferences.
  6. Talent Attraction and Retention: Offering flexibility and choice in work arrangements can help attract and retain top talent.

Challenges for Office Providers

Office providers may face several challenges when catering to businesses using coworking passes:

  1. Overcrowding and Availability: Overcrowding during peak hours can impact the client experience, necessitating vigilant space monitoring.
  2. Contract Management: Managing complex contracts for a hybrid setup, including office space rental and coworking passes.
  3. Operational Complexity: Handling billing, space management, and tech infrastructure in a hybrid setup.
  4. Communication and Coordination: Effective communication and coordination between clients are crucial to resolve issues promptly.

Top 10 Independent Coworking Spaces in the UK

While coworking chains like WeWork, TOG, and IWG dominate the market, there are many smaller and independent coworking spaces that offer top-notch features at affordable prices. Sketch Labs conducted a comprehensive assessment of independent coworking spaces in key cities across the UK. Here are the top 10 independent coworking spaces:

  1. Floe, Newcastle
  2. Raw Space, Bristol
  3. Alpha Works, Birmingham
  4. Collabor8te, Glasgow
  5. Huckletreet Ancoats, Manchester
  6. Cubo, Sheffield
  7. AvenueHQ, Leeds
  8. The Melting Pot, Edinburgh
  9. Tramshed Tech, Cardiff
  10. The Ministry, London

Floe in Newcastle secured the top spot due to its affordability and consistently high Google reviews. AvenueHQ in Leeds and The Melting Pot in Edinburgh also stood out for their cost-effective memberships.

As the business world continues to evolve, coworking spaces have become a significant part of the equation, offering companies the flexibility and resources they need. However, the industry must address challenges such as overcrowding to ensure that the coworking trend remains a viable and productive option for all types of businesses. With the right approach, coworking can continue to thrive and redefine the way we work in the UK.