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Many Americans are still skeptical of co-working spaces: Poll

Melody Hahm
·West Coast Correspondent
Ping pong in a co-working space (Source: Haus)
Ping pong in a co-working space (Source: Haus)

While individuals living in metropolitan areas might come across co-working spaces frequently, the reality is still that most Americans view shared workspaces with skepticism.

Eighty two percent of Americans have never worked in a co-working space, according to a new joint survey from Emerge212, which operates three high-end co-working spaces, and The Harris Poll.

The survey of 2,000 people found that many Americans view the co-working industry in a negative light. Forty-three percent of respondents described the spaces as lacking privacy, 38% perceive them to be noisy and 31% say they feel crowded.

“What many people don’t realize is that while flexible or co-working spaces have been around for a while, the segment has only recently evolved and broadened significantly,” said Emerge212 Director James Kleeman.

“The majority of Americans still view co-working as this open-concept, loud, and distracting environment, when in reality it’s a vast and varied category. We’re not just catering to tech start-ups and freelancers anymore. There are co-working spaces out there for every type of company big or small, regardless of industry and price point, with dedicated amenities and features to fit your business’s specific needs,” he added.

2017 Forecast of Global Number of Co-working Spaces (Global Co-working Unconference Conference)
2017 Forecast of Global Number of Co-working Spaces (Global Co-working Unconference Conference)

Unsurprisingly, the millennial generation is much more embracing of the co-working phenomenon, with 35% saying working in a shared space would be great for collaboration.

A Harvard Business Review article last year argued that co-working spaces were beneficial because of the networking opportunities for startup founders and entrepreneurs.

WeWork, which is currently valued at $20 billion, is perhaps the company to have popularized co-working spaces the most globally. Founded in 2010, the unicorn currently has 390 locations — and counting — across 72 cities.

Appetite to use co-working spaces is still on the rise, though at a slower pace than the trend that has swept both startups and corporate America over the last few years. GCUC, the largest co-working conference in the world, estimates 5.1 million members will be working in 30,432 spaces by 2022. The industry has seen an average annual growth rate of 16.1% since 2007.

Melody Hahm is a senior writer at Yahoo Finance, covering entrepreneurship, technology and real estate. Follow her on Twitter @melodyhahm.

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