The coworking sector was hit particularly hard by the pandemic. With employees laid off, furloughed, and offered remote opportunities, the need for these flexible office spaces diminished overnight. Other sectors in the property industry are bouncing back around the world, but the coworking sector is seeing continued struggles.
WeWork has experienced a number of obstacles even before the pandemic began. It has come to light that the flexible workspace aggregator has nearly 9 million square feet of office space in New York City, alone. Of that space, 1.9 million square feet is available for rent.
Filling these spaces is going to be difficult. The company has reached out to the city’s commercial leasing industry in hopes of filling some of that space and making back some of that lost revenue.
Leasing has been on the downward tick since the pandemic began and those looking to fill in these spaces have had a particularly difficult time, according to Ted Skirbunt, the National Director for Workthere, the flexible workspace department of Savills.
"I think everyone was hoping that we would have a quick, linear type of bounce back from the pandemic. It's pretty clear at this point that the reality in the near term, the next 6 to 12 months, is we're in for a much more uncertain type of recovery."
Across the pond, another company has done its own research on the likelihood of coworking spaces gaining relevancy in a post-pandemic world.
Faisal Butt, CEO and Founder of Pi Labs, explained that innovation is what will save the sector. That those who fail to develop solutions for the problems that have arisen from the COVID crisis will fail before they even begin.
The company predicts that the future of coworking will rely on providing tenants with cleaner, more sustainable venues. Transparency and health should be the main goals for coworking companies if the sector is to make a comeback.
Most recently, WeWork Chairman Marcelo Claure stated that the company has high hopes for the future with a solid plan for 2021, predicting that by then, the demand for coworking spaces will be back in full swing. The main question is, will there be changes in the company’s model to meet the new societal norms based on a pandemic-ravaged world?