The last two years have been a difficult time for all of us. COVID-19 has restricted our daily lives and isolated us from friends, colleagues, and family.
The pandemic turned the world upside down, and just like the rest of us, the coworking industry was not prepared for the scale of this global crisis.
Will coworking spaces survive the pandemic?
The last few years have been an emotional roller coaster for the coworking industry, and it has made many people wonder if their local coworking space would survive the pandemic.
What started as a couple of weeks with COVID-19 lockdown turned into a two-year pandemic with extensive restrictions and consequences for society.
The situation has impacted the coworking industry due to the financial burden and the uncertainty about the future. When the pandemic hit, coworkers began fleeing the offices, and business growth in the sector stopped immediately.
Funnily enough, coworking spaces were not affected by restrictions in most countries, but the fear of this unknown new disease caused many people to avoid coworking spaces to limit their social interactions, thereby reducing the risk of becoming infected.
Coworking is still a relatively new concept, and it started as a blue ocean market, so many coworking brands have invested heavily in facilities, expansion, etc. the previous years.
The investments led to rapid business growth in the early years of their business journey, but they also made them more vulnerable when the pandemic came swooping in from the side.
But is there still hope for the future of coworking?
A shift towards Remote Working
Even though the pandemic has been challenging for the industry, it might also be the savior after all. What do I exactly mean by that?
COVID-19 has presented a post-pandemic opportunity for the coworking industry, as it has forced a shift towards remote working and showed companies the benefits of hiring a remote workforce.
The new shift towards remote working will most likely lead to an increase in freelancers and remote employees in the forthcoming year, and all these people will benefit from the services provided by the coworking spaces.
We are all tired of working from home by now, am I right?
So coworking spaces can look forward to an increase in members as the pandemic and its restrictions fades away. Coworking spaces will most likely experience a more diverse community; consisting of freelancers, entrepreneurs/start-ups, digital nomads, and people with remote jobs.
Because of this evolution, we are predicting more companies to offer remote jobs in the future to accommodate a better work-life balance and thereby attract more talent.
By now, most companies already have the structure in place due to the pandemic, so they will be more open to the idea of a remote workforce.
Remote workers' mental health
But wouldn’t people continue to work from home, now that they’ve gotten used to it? I don’t think so, for several reasons…
By now, we’re all tired of being isolated, and most people have a huge desire to get back into normality. We miss socializing with like-minded people and coworkers play an important role.
Some love to work from home while others hate it. But prolonged isolation will, for most of us, result in poor mental health. This was confirmed by The American Psychiatric Association, through an online survey last year, where they evaluated the state of remote workers’ mental health during the pandemic.
While the article by Forbes goes on to talk about how companies can support the mental health of remote workers, it focuses more on how companies can help employees battle mental health issues instead of preventing them from occurring in the first place.
That’s where we think coworking spaces come into the picture. A healthy work environment with social interactions can help reduce stress and prevent things like anxiety and depression.
From our experience, it’s important to get back into environments where you get socially stimulated. Some may do that by meeting with friends for sports, dinners, etc. But the easiest way to meet this need is by joining a coworking space. Most of us spend more than a third of our day at work, so a healthy work environment is the best investment you can make in your mental health.
The Future of Coworking
We already spoke about our thoughts and predictions for the future of coworking, and I believe the future of coworking is bright despite the recent years’ challenges.
Through the pandemic, I’ve often been dreaming about “the good old days” at the coworking space – a time I definitely took for granted back then.
I have personally experienced mental health issues as a result of being isolated for prolonged periods with a heavy workload. While we were forced into this situation by COVID-19, it’s still something that most digital nomads have experienced at some point along their journey and that we need to be aware of to avoid “digital nomad burnout”.
Even though traveling full-time is amazing, most of us still need some kind of structure in our days, as well as a sense of community, to avoid stress and burnout. This is where a coworking or co-living space can be super beneficial.
The pandemic has taught me the importance of slowing down and prioritizing certain things. I am looking forward to get back to the coworking spaces, where I can get inspired by like-minded creatives, stress off with a ping-pong game, and have a beer with my coworkers after a day of work.
We live in a time where productivity and extreme workload gets glorified, and this lifestyle can easily take a toll on our mental health, so be aware of the signals and make sure you have a healthy setup for your remote job.