The rise of the gig economy and the ‘on demand’ nature of our changing world have already had a major impact. In everything from local businesses to car manufacturers we are seeing the effects. The way in which we work is changing and it’s having a perceptible impact on office work.
This is set to impact on local businesses too. With co-working spaces more and more common, those businesses that cater to workers may see a fall in business as the office rental market compete to house workers by providing more and more facilities.
For instance, the company ‘Wework’ which recently acquired app-based community planner Meetup, is looking to expand from its 235 offices across 54 global cities. WeWork began working with geo-data specialist Factual recently to work out what locations might be best situated to serve the kinds of people and entities that would have a natural affinity for co-working spaces hoping to attract independent professionals, small start-ups and community groups.
However, there is a chance that such enterprises will impact positively on local gyms, bars and restaurants.
Recently, in New York, a ‘roundtable discussion on the ‘Future of Work’ hosted at Wework discussed the current shape of the professional and creative class’s gravitation to coworking spaces versus the stereotypical laptop toting worker hunkered down in a Starbucks or cafe for an entire day.
“WeWork and places like this make the most sense,” said journalist and author Abby Ellin, “I’ve always liked being autonomous and avoiding office politics and things of that nature. The ways we work will continue to change and I think the ones who will continue to suffer the most are the cafes because people aren’t working in them as much anymore. So, the Starbucks revolt is coming,”
Will the changing ways in which we work have an impact on cafes? For some cafes, there has been a love/hate relationship with freelancers and telecommuters who take up space, ordering minimal amounts of coffee and pastries – low spend customers- whilst at the same time soaking up valuable Wi-Fi access.
Some think not,
Alexis Tryon, VP, Strategic Initiatives at career advice site The Muse said “Cafes were here before Wi-Fi and I think they’ll be here after. As remote work and co-working becomes more common, the “third space” to gather will continue to be critical in our communities. We will also see more of these spaces embrace workers in new ways – such as restaurants partnering with Spacious for day time co-working hours.”
Marlon Litz-Rosenzweig, CEO of MyLittleJob has said “In the future, workplaces will be both physical and virtual, but, increasingly, virtual. By going virtual or “distributed,” companies benefit from decreased infrastructure costs, greater flexibility around workforce and diminished costs around onboarding and “offboarding” employees.”
Workers too will see many benefits to working virtually. Not least of which will be the flexibility about how much, when and where they will work.
There is, however a continuing need for workers to convene in physical spaces, ideally for those individual groups to share different talent and skill sets in close proximity.
For Local businesses, the need to innovate around the way that work is moving could be the way forward. For instance, restaurants and cafes could market services like ‘co-working’ as a benefit to customers. They could bring in wellness coaches and speakers more regularly. Embracing technology to augment their business offerings, like online ordering and enhanced customer support, should become the norm.
If local businesses do embrace the changes in the workplace they will be well placed for future success.