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What we learnt in Porto

19th December 2023

It’s been nearly three weeks since the Shared Access team returned from the 2023 Coworking Europe Conference in Porto. As sponsors of the event, we hosted the pre-conference meetup drinks and Sam Jackman, our Chief Development Officer, was invited to take part in two expert panel sessions. We had the opportunity to meet some of the best coworking world experts and practitioners during the three day event and heard from numerous expert speakers as they shared their thoughts, insights and ideas on this fertile sector.

So, what did we learn?

Firstly, demand for coworking and flexible spaces continues to grow across Europe. Tom Sleigh, Head of Flexible Workspace EMEA Colliers, spoke with passion about the journey that companies and coworking  operators are facing as we mature into this new way of working. There are many factors (such as T&Cs) that are not yet in full alignment, however, it’s an area of huge demand because it allows companies to grow and flex their space requirements without making large investments and long-term property commitments.

Coliving was a huge topic throughout the event and many coworking companies are extending their offer to include coliving. One company that we spoke with managed to achieve 50% occupancy throughout Covid using this model. We heard in multiple sessions and through numerous conversations that having a multi-use space for coliving and coworking is the future focus for most operators.

It was really interesting to learn about the different types of coworking companies that are now operating in this market. There are spaces available that specialise in specific sectors, such as therapists, dentists, doctors and lawyers. Each sector has its specific demands from the space itself and the smart operators are offering softer services alongside, such as the availability of accounting services to support time poor professions including dentists and doctors.

There was a palpable sense of community amongst the operators, with collaboration rather than competition being the goal. Above all, there is absolute consensus that meeting the needs of members has to come first – and, as one of the attendees admitted to us, ‘technology is one of the first challenges for any flex space…’

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