Publications

- November 1, 2019: Vol. 13, Number 10

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Drawing in the crowds: How far can the co-working phenomenon go?

by James Wallace

Co-working has blurred the boundaries of the roles performed by traditional office landlords, managers, investors and operators. It has also turbocharged the space-as-a-service movement within the office sector.

On the one hand, major co-working operators such as sector behemoth WeWork have become direct real estate owners. On the other, traditional office landlords are increasingly filling vacant office space with co-working and flexible space solutions, hiring in the operational expertise from co-working operators.

While both sides are encroaching on each other’s territory, it is the strategy of late-convert landlords that is more curious. Is the strategy a proactive part of a wider long-term office play, or a rearguard action? In other words, are these landlords playing attack, or defence?

In a global survey commissioned by Ropes & Gray earlier this year, the international law firm asked the same question. It found that almost nine out of 10 (89 percent

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