In 2022, we experienced very high inflation rates due to various factors, including rising energy prices and the stimulus response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Decisive action by central banks is managing to drive rates down, but overall inflation still remains relatively high.
In this article, we will explore some of the major ways inflation affects the shared workspace industry and how coworking businesses can deal with it.
Inflation and the spread of hybrid work are increasing the demand for flexible workspaces
The ongoing shift towards hybrid work models was already a powerful drive behind the increasing demand for flexible workspaces, which allow businesses to quickly scale up or down their physical workforce capacity without any long-term commitment.
Mounting inflationary pressures are reinforcing these trends. Inflation is forcing businesses and organizations to consider more affordable alternatives by pushing up the cost of traditional offices.
All other factors being equal, coworking spaces are a cheaper solution than traditional offices, so it’s only natural that they are one of the primary options businesses look at when looking for ways to save money without disrupting their operations.
Inflation is having an impact on coworking space fees
While coworking spaces remain a more affordable solution than traditional offices, the increasing inflation impacts the usage fees coworking businesses need to charge. This means that for businesses and individual workers already using the spaces, the overall workspace cost may increase.
Rising energy costs may be one of the primary drives behind the fee increase. However, coworking spaces also offer several amenities that may have become costlier for coworking businesses to offer due to inflation. Some of the main examples are an internet connection, printing services, and food.
Inflation may impact the number of available amenities
Coworking spaces may also offset inflationary pressures without increasing their usage fees by reducing the number of amenities included in a basic membership.
For example, a coworking center may have previously offered unlimited coffee to its members, but this option would now be available only to those who subscribe to a more expensive plan.
Those who decide to pay the original price will have to buy their coffee separately.
This could also apply to the number of prints, scans, photocopies, and physical mail forwardings that are included in the basic subscription. Some coworking centers may have also offered mailboxes and lockers before, but this would now be available only to those who upgrade their plan.
Occasional members may use coworking spaces with less frequency
Coworking spaces have become one of the primary places where freelancers, small digital entrepreneurs, and remote workers work. Many don’t subscribe to a monthly plan but buy daily tickets to access the workspace and its flexible desks.
As inflation pushes the prices of these daily tickets up, some of these occasional members could begin using coworking spaces with a lower frequency than before. For example, they may reduce the number of daily passes they use each month from 15 to 10 to contain costs on a 30-day basis.
They may also start purchasing fewer additional services. For example, they could bring lunch from home instead of buying it at the coworking space’s cafeteria.
Coworking spaces could reduce the number of networking and social events
One of the reasons shared workspaces have become so popular is that they allow remote and independent workers to benefit from an environment where they can socialize with other workers and even network in the search for opportunities.
Coworking spaces are known to host various events a month. Some are just aimed at bringing people together for a small chat, while others may revolve around a topic, industry, or business opportunity.
As inflation rises, coworking spaces may see events as the most sacrificable costs and offer fewer of these happenings throughout the month. This may allow them to continue offering their services without increasing membership fees and daily passes excessively.
However, this is also a risk, as coworking businesses also risk losing those members who signed up for the coworking space primarily because of the opportunity to participate in events.
Coworking spaces may offer fewer discounts and special offers
One of the factors businesses, flexible workers, and freelancers look for when choosing a coworking space is whether it offers promotions and other special offers. These may come in many forms, such as a lower fee for the first month, a seasonal discount, or a referral fee.
As inflation rises and operating costs increase, coworking centers may be forced to reduce the number of discounts and special offers to prevent their basic membership fees from rising.
However, they may add some incentives on their upgraded membership plans or expensive amenities that workers can buy separately.
Coworking spaces may continue to offer the same rates only for yearly subscriptions
In order to battle the effect of inflation, coworking businesses may offer the same rates only to those members who subscribe to a yearly plan while increasing them for those who prefer a monthly or quarterly plan.
Yearly plans make future income streams stabler, which allows for better financial planning. For example, if the coworking space knows it will receive the same income each year from a certain number of clients, it can plan its operational costs more accurately.
The effectiveness of this measure depends on how regular the coworking space’s current clientele is on average. Some coworking spaces may have many members who want to decide on a month-by-month basis whether they will continue using the space or not. In this case, offering the same rates only for those who subscribe to a yearly plan may be counterproductive.
However, if many coworking space members are regulars who plan to use the premises over many months, this could be the right incentive to convince them to switch to a yearly monthly subscription.
To Sum It Up
Inflation can be challenging for coworking centers, as it increases operational costs and threatens their potential income streams.
In order to counter rising expenses, coworking spaces may have to resort to various measures, such as increasing fees, reducing amenities, making certain amenities available only to those who sign up for an upgraded subscription, or keeping the same rate only for those members who switch to a monthly plan.