While coworking is seen as a relatively new concept, serviced offices have been around for decades ad both are closely related. Serviced offices are offices that already come with all the amenities that clients need. They are essentially fully-equipped and furnished offices that you use on a pay-as-you-go basis instead of a traditional office lease, although the method and terms of renting the space can vary. Serviced offices have been around for decades, with OmniOffices Group, Inc. being founded in 1962. Compared to coworking, there are many similarities with the serviced office model, since coworking spaces are also fully-furnished and equipped. These spaces, however, add an element of community and other features.
When you look at the definitions of coworking and serviced offices, you will notice many similarities. Both let you avoid traditional leases and instead rent a space for shorter periods of time of your choosing. In both the serviced office and coworking business model, the offices are fully furnished so you do not have to worry about buying desks, etc. Coworking spaces, however, provide more amenities like coffee and events, setting their business model apart somewhat.
One of the biggest differences between the serviced office model and coworking is the element of community. With the serviced office model, you pay for the space you use and do not necessarily have additional expectations. With coworking, however, you also expect to enjoy social activities with other members. There will be networking events, collaboration, and more. Coworking spaces also tend to have more unique features, like phone booths, video conference booths, bike racks, and an assortment of seating areas instead of just traditional desks. Essentially, it seems that coworking has adopted portions of the serviced office concept but added more features to meet slightly different needs.
There are even similarities between what powered the popularity of the two models. In the 1960s, the idea of serviced offices took off thanks to the computer industry, which had been nascent. Today, the coworking industry receives a great deal of its power and interest from the tech industry. In both cases, technology was a major contributor.
Today, a quick online search will show you hundreds of options available both for companies following the coworking business model and serviced offices. There are mixed opinions about the future of the coworking industry, but most experts familiar with the model agree that it will still exist for the foreseeable future. Some feel that it will become so prevalent that people will just refer to it as an office instead of coworking in the future, while others feel that the term will persist. Experts also agree that national players will continue to expand, bringing coworking into the areas of the world where it is less prevalent at the moment, such as the middle of the United States.
At the moment, it seems that coworking certainly meets the needs of those in search of office space. Time will tell, however, whether companies will continue to use serviced offices as well or opt for coworking instead.