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Predictions that a quarter of office space would be occupied by co-working operations within the next few years are looking shaky
Freelancers and flexible workers are shunning co-working spaces due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Renting a desk in a shared space had become an increasingly popular option for flexible workers. Some choose to do it because they work better out of the house. Others find it a good way to beat the loneliness that can come with being a sole trader. It’s an arrangement that allows freelancers to retain an office atmosphere, get out of the house and be part of a community.
However attitudes have changed. “Everyone wanted to be part of a community a month ago – now nobody wants to touch them,” according to Alf Moufarrige, founder of Australian company Servcorp which runs shared working spaces across the globe. He claims business has dropped by 30-40%.
Wing, a co-working start-up aimed at women workers and which has offices in the US and London, is to shut its doors.
Other companies are emphasising cleaning and hygiene steps they are taking in the hope of actually attracting freelancers looking for somewhere that is guaranteed to be clean. The most high profile co-working company, WeWork, is keeping its doors open.
However companies that offer virtual office services are reporting an uptick in business. Companies that supply technology to allow people to work remotely, dial into meetings and maintain the image of an office from home are apparently having to work hard to keep up with demand.