Co-working Spaces: The New Normal in a Post COVID-19 World
Segun has not stepped foot in his office for more than a year now. After the Nigerian Government imposed lockdown measures last April, the creative agency he works for quickly activated a business continuity plan which saw everyone working from home. This remote working model has so far worked out well for Segun and his colleagues, such that when the company’s rent expired in December 2020, there was no immediate urgency to renew it. The company decided to do away with the office space.
At the moment, Segun does not have an office. Meanwhile, the nature of his job requires him to occasionally meet with clients. So, how does he do that now that he does not have an office? Well, co-working spaces have been serving that purpose for him recently. Apparently, Segun’s company has an arrangement with one of the leading co-working space providers whereby he and his colleagues can occasionally walk in and use the facilities in a shared office whenever they need to use an office.
Segun is just one out of the thousands of Nigerian employees whose companies now prefer to use co-working spaces instead of paying full rent for their own offices. Such is the new normal in the aftermath of the COVID lockdown. Agreed, co-working spaces have long been in existence before now. But the lockdown helped to amplify their relevance.
At the moment, a lot of Nigerian business owners (especially MSMEs) have come to the realisation that they really do not have to pay exorbitant rent; at least not when there are more affordable options like co-working spaces. This same way of thinking informed ORYX Africa’s decision to “shut down our big office in August 2020. We figured that if we could function effectively for months working from home, there was no need to keep spending millions of naira in annual rents for a big office that we really do not need,” according to COO, oluseyi akinyoyenu.
Expectedly, the growing demand for co-working spaces has provided immense opportunities for those offering the service. An October 2020 report by Fortune noted that WeWork and notable players in the global co-working space world are taking advantage of these opportunities. Back home in Nigeria, some of the leading players in this space responded to the growing demand by slightly adjusting their prices. They also intensified their marketing efforts (mainly through digital advertising) in a bid to attract more customers.
“We noticed that our competitors have started increasing their prices due to rising demand for the services we render. So, we quickly adjusted our own prices. Surprisingly, this didn’t stop people from calling and booking. I guess people are really just tired of working from home but reluctant to return to their offices…” said Mathew, a spokesperson for one of the main co-working spaces located in Lagos Island.
Meanwhile, with businesses doing so well, the co-working space ecosystem is becoming more competitive. This is because a lot more people are going into it. These new entrants include landlords whose properties were hitherto rented by companies until said companies remodeled their operations due to COVID-19. In the meantime, it’s unclear how long this new normal will last. But for now, it seems to be working out just fine for all the parties involved…
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