How flexwork contributes to the local economy

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A new report shows the positive impact a new coworking space can have on its neighbourhood 


All around the world, the trend for shared offices shows no sign of slowing down. From a company and a worker point of view, the benefits of coworking spaces are plain to see. Firstly, they allow a company to cut overheads by doing away with cleaning and maintenance costs, and to keep a tighter rein on the desk-space/headcount ratio with the ability to adjust numbers as demand dictates. Secondly, they allow a worker the freedom to manage their own schedule and to spend the day their way – in a pleasant environment with likeminded individuals. But what about the benefits for local economies?

Take coworking in New Zealand, where a healthy business climate and a buzzing start-up culture have led to a surge in demand in recent years. An independent report commissioned by Regus and compiled by Development Economics found that, by 2029, the country will have around 13,900 flexworkers providing net additional employment of more than 7,600 jobs per area. Furthermore, flexwork is predicted to create NZ$1.7bn per annum in value alone based on the total annual amount of commuting time saved. The overall average gross value added (GVA) per flexible workspace is NZ$26m a year, of which an average of NZ$15.1m a year is likely to stay in the local economy.

According to Pierre Ferrandon, Regus New Zealand country manager, flexwork is here to stay. “Flexible working has already become a standard business practice for millions across the globe,” he says, “and how we are able to more closely analyse how the benefits of flexible working – from lower overheads for businesses to healthier workers and reduced commuting times – are translating to improved gross value added (GVA) to national economies.”

Coworking spaces in Auckland can be seen as something of a test case for other cities in New Zealand – and around the world – all of which are predicted to reap similar benefits. The research suggests that, on average, every time a new workspace is launched, it generates 217 permanent jobs at a national level, 119 additional local jobs and a local GVA of NZ$14.2m a year from the building’s occupiers. It’s a staggering finding, and it’s set to be compounded as coworking trends continue.

For Ferrandon, coworking isn’t restricted to major cities but is a way of working that suits towns and suburbs too: “This comprehensive independent report by Development Economic analyses in detail the effects of flexible workspaces across multiple competitive economies, and shows that with New Zealand belonging squarely in the pack, we have a great deal to gain from a flexible working model that invests not only in central cities but in secondary cities and towns and suburban areas over the next decade,” he says.


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