Why Coworking Works

Written by Jeff Hainer, Senior Research Analyst at Colliers International |West Michigan

Back in 2012, when real estate investment firm Franklin Partners purchased the Campau Square Plaza Building located at 99 Monroe in the heart of downtown Grand Rapids, the team had a unique vision — one that was born from the firm’s past experience in the big-city office market of Chicago. Part of that vision included building out a suite and partnering with a company that would manage a “coworking” space for mobile workers and tenants in need of lease flexibility. The idea was originally met with some skepticism, but eventually the right partner was found.

The rest, they say, is history. Five years later, Worklab by Custer just increased its footprint in the building by 20 percent and is as in-demand as ever. Having been involved from the beginning, I wanted to dive in and figure out what turned this interesting concept into a thriving reality and take a look at what’s ahead.

Photo Credit: Markus Spiske

The Mobile Worker

It’s now almost a cliché, but the new-age workforce is as mobile as ever; and with competition for talent reaching a fever pitch, many companies are choosing to accommodate mobility rather than restrict it. Coworking spaces give employees a home base to plug into as an individual or small group, without needing to be located in the same building — or even country — as the rest of their team.

Lease Flexibility

Coworking spaces allow companies to ride the inevitable ebbs and flows of the business cycle, rather than locking into an agreement on price and square footage for a long period of time. Commercial leases can be complicated and confusing, and ultimately restrictive, so the flexibility that coworking spaces offer is a much-needed breath of fresh air for some organizations. It makes it easy to expand when business is booming, and easy to scale down when a lull hits.


Yes, coworking spaces are dynamic by nature and offer a variety of layouts for small groups to collaborate in, but what makes these spaces even more beneficial is the co-tenancy collaboration that occurs organically between tenants. Sharing a physical space (and the ancillary amenities like break rooms and multi-media tools) with other companies is great for fostering mutually beneficial relationships. Often times these companies are at or near the same point in their growth or transition stages and experience many of the same challenges and triumphs. Being located amongst peer organizations has its (sometimes unintended) benefits.


Future of Coworking

According to findings from deskmag’s 2017 Global Coworking Survey, more than 1.2 million workers are expected to use coworking spaces this year. Many of these users are millennials, who by the year 2025 will make up an estimated 75 percent of the workforce. In addition, coworking managers surveyed anticipate more members (86 percent), higher income (81 percent), more events (71 percent), and a greater sense of community (84 percent) in 2017. These findings lead us to believe that not only is coworking a popular alternative to the traditional office space, but it is likely a trend that is here to stay.

At Colliers, we understand the unique challenges mobile workers and entrepreneurs face when it comes to finding a flexible office space. We work alongside our clients to find solutions that meet their unique needs and accommodate their growing team of mobile workers. Learn more about our office solutions and leasing services at colliers.com/en-us/westmichigan/services/propertytype/office.

Jeff Hainer | Senior Research Analyst