The Home/Office Hybrid: The Impact of COVID-19 on Coliving and Coworking

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The following article has been included in the third edition of Coliving Insights: Impact and Sustainability in Coliving in the section "Social & Economic Impact". Download your full copy of the publication by clicking this link.

With alternative work styles such as remote work being accelerated by the recent health pandemic, the concepts of the office and the home are blending. In this article Spatial Experience explores this trend and gives a few case studies that were already ahead of the game before COVID-19. They share how these concepts are having a social, environmental and economic impact and how they are helping both the coliving and coworking sectors scale.

The global pandemic has revolutionised how we conceive working, as millions of people around the world have had to experience remote working for the first time in their life. This adjustment has profoundly impacted the strategies of most companies around the world but has also sped up the process of digitalisation that was already happening in recent years. As mentioned in our previous article on SPX Lab: Remote working during coronavirus - a blueprint for the future of work, this means that public spaces should also adapt themselves to provide a solution to the emerging necessity of working from anywhere. According to projections from a JLL study, the traditional office environment will continue to evolve and therefore lose importance, in lieu of more flexible concepts that empower individuals to choose more efficient and flexible ways of working, such as coworking.

Parallel to the rise of coworking, people are also changing their living preferences due to a number of factors such as housing affordability, international mobility, the shortage of space and flexibility needs, not to mention the loneliness epidemic. New generations have different needs compared to the previous ones, and they expect more and wish to engage with a community that is truly meaningful.


The Rise of Blended Concepts

As a result, Purpose Built Shared Living (PBSL) concepts are on the rise in most areas of the globe, emerging as one of the most resilient asset classes in real estate, which is by many experts such as JLL, CBRE, PWC and The Class of 2020 projected to keep growing in the near future. Since the core offer of coliving spaces is to create an environment where tenants can not only live but can also be entertained, connect with like-minded individuals, and share services and facilities, the hybridisation of coworking and coliving seems to be the natural direction we are heading towards.

Coliving and coworking models produce an important positive societal and environmental impact by optimising available space, giving a platform for people to network and form sincere relationships, as well as sharing resources that were previously owned, therefore reducing emissions and waste, amongst many other benefits. Moreover, these spaces have a pivotal role in placemaking and in urban development, which will ever more connect buildings, communities and experiences. As mentioned in the SPX Lab article Cities of Tomorrow - How to re-imagine Urban Development, to ensure the wellbeing of urban dwellers, operators, developers, investors and architects have to forge human-centric environments that engage people on a personal and professional level, besides implementing modern tech solutions and measuring their sustainability and impact.

The high demand for these solutions has been embraced by a variety of developers and operators around the world, which set up the base for the above-mentioned hybridisation between living and working. The economic impact of blended coliving and coworking spaces relies on its scalability, since successful models can be easily reproduced in multiple locations of the world, both in central and rural locations. In order to prioritise global expansion it became strictly necessary to take into consideration impact and sustainability, since now not only guests perceive those topics as requirements, but also investors and other stakeholders.


Our Selection of Innovative Home/Office Hybrids

Below we present some of the most relevant coliving and coworking concepts worldwide. These concepts can set the stage for what is to come in regards to this accelerated work-life ‘co’ space model.

  • The Student Hotel (TSH) is a hybrid hospitality model where long-term student housing meets short-term guest accommodation. TSH is an all-inclusive solution that targets both students and travelling professionals and its vision is to “create state-of-the-art facilities and colourful experiences that will change the way people live, work and travel”. Their TSH Collab model offers a coworking program that enables members to work in all of their locations across Europe. From small meeting rooms to large auditoriums, coworking spaces can be requested by both individuals living within their spaces  and external companies or entrepreneurs seeking a dynamic place to work. TSH is embracing the circular economy as a whole by actively working on different sustainable projects to reduce their carbon footprint, eliminate plastic, plant trees in different countries, and minimise waste and energy consumption. Moreover, TSH is helping to solve societal issues through its Changemakers Challenge, a competition amongst students to work on innovative business solutions that could have a real impact on society. 
  • Sun and Co. is a coliving and coworking space located in the historic town of Javea in Spain that targets freelancers, solopreneurs, digital nomads, and in general remote workers seeking a work/life balance. Guests have three accommodation options, of 7+, 14+ and 30+ days, which all include access to various coworking areas and the possibility to reserve a private “Skype Room” for webinars and team meetings. The space is also available for team retreats. Sun and Co. has a mission of promoting work-life balance, while forming meaningful connections and growing as individuals. In addition, the company organises retreats focused on environmental consciousness, sustainability and ecology in relation to the digital nomad lifestyle, such as the “Green Digital Nomads Unconference” in partnership with Green Coworking.
  • Mokrin House is a premium coliving and coworking hybrid space located in a beautiful rural area of northern Serbia. This is the perfect place for people wishing for a getaway from the city to enjoy a living and working experience in the countryside for either 2 weeks, 2 months or 2 years. The space also offers coworking and a separate office that can provide full privacy for a team of 10 people. Their dedicated in-house team provides plenty of after-hour activities and includes three delicious homemade meals every day during the stay. Mokrin House is also starting its own foundation to focus solely on events connecting the coliving space with the countryside and supporting the development of the local community. A few social initiatives worth mentioning that they have already been hosting throughout the years are their creative recycling workshop for kids,  their women’s rights seminars and a series of TedxMokrin Conferences  on topics such as sustainability.

Source: LiveZoku


  • Zoku defines itself as an home-office hybrid, providing a coliving type of accommodation and workspaces for both holiday and business travellers. Their model specialises in city placemaking and relocation. Due to their combination of short-term and long-term guests, Zoku offers different ways to access their coworking spaces: the WorkZoku membership, which guarantees a monthly access to the coworking facilities with free lunch and additional discounts, the self-explanatory Day Pass and a private WorkLoft solution for maximised privacy. It is important to mention that Zoku is a BCorp Certified company, who ensures that their (not so) corporate social responsibility (as they call it) efforts are focused on the sustainability of their buildings, measuring social impact, educating residents on environmental matters and partnering with aligned suppliers. 
  • Outsite is a coliving and coworking hybrid operating in 18 locations around the world, mainly offering a workation type of experience. Their model is focused on creating connections between professionals and providing team retreats for companies focused on skills acquisition and bonding exercises.  Beyond working and living, the house managers also organise unique experiences designed for team building such as surfing or skiing. Outsite also has sustainability at heart and is promoting several environmental initiatives such as planting a tree for each booking received, avoiding disposable products and effective waste management,  the careful choice of responsible suppliers and organising series of events to aid environmental education and awareness.
  • Unsettled is a different kind of hybrid concept as it is location independent and could be described more as a platform for global mobility. Unsettled organises coworking retreats in unique destinations in an attempt to build new relationships among professionals and to discover new growth perspectives. The retreats usually last 15 to 30 days and provide a coliving-type of accommodation with shared workspaces, paired with a variety of travel activities. This model is a perfect fit for any individual looking to merge work, travel and social life altogether. Unsettled focuses on processes to dig deeper into your biggest questions and has started a dedicated mindfulness program, designed to develop your own toolkit to inspire a more meaningful, intentional way of living.


What are the Advantages of Coliving and Coworking Hybrid Models?

The benefits of including a coworking area under the same roof of a coliving space can be advantageous for several reasons. First, an open and always available work environment can give an unprecedented sense of freedom and be perceived as less stressful than a traditional office. Not having to commute to an office has a two-fold effect of reducing emissions and granting more free time during the day, which can lead to higher happiness and productivity levels.

Moreover, the connections formed within the coliving building and coworking area can lead to finding new potential business partners, gathering original viewpoints and designing innovative ideas. Such bonds can help to establish a healthier approach on how to make businesses, based on knowledge sharing and mutual collaboration. This mindset could potentially be extended at a broader scale, shaping modern work frames and impacting the journey of the future leaders and entrepreneurs of this world.

From a company perspective, allowing employees to move their activities to a coworking space will profoundly reduce multiple costs. Lastly, this impact could be extended to a complete revision of the working model from a time-based framework to a result-oriented one as people would be able to self manage their tasks when they prefer. Providing the tools and spaces to achieve work-life balance will not only improve job satisfaction but also increase productivity and the overall quality of performance.


Key Takeaway

According to what has been mentioned above, such models can drive a crucial impact on the scalability of coliving concepts, which could be seen as an answer to both the accelerated preferences of a new generation of residents, as well as addressing the evolution of the post-pandemic work environment. Moreover, the differentiation of offers and models will help to diversify the overall coliving and coworking landscapes. On the other hand, as mentioned by Dror Poleg in his article The office won’t budge“The fact that people can work and access services and experiences from anywhere creates an abundance of choice that will alter the distribution of human communities within and between cities. Latent demand for office space can now be unlocked.”

From centralised systems we are moving back towards local environments that are often more functional and meaningful for the wellbeing of citizens. Coliving and coworking hybrids address this unprecedented change by empowering the new remote worker through flexible solutions, enabling the creation of unprecedented business connections, while fostering personal development. Moreover, due to the young character and enhanced responsibility on social and environmental issues of their main target group, coliving and coworking concepts must be driven by sustainable values and address challenges such as climate change and loneliness.

As the demand will continue to grow, “co” companies have the chance to scale up and build meaningful communities. The expansion of these hybrid models will play a crucial role in shaping the society of tomorrow, but an efficient transition can only be possible by blended a profit-driven approach with one that has people at his core. Our society needs to rethink how we conceive living environments and work frames, adapt from traditional models to flexible ones and re-learn the most efficient way to merge personal satisfaction and productivity. As we said in our last edition of Coliving Insights, we strongly believe that the coliving (and coworking) sector is here to stay.

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