meeting room

Elizabeth Hurt

One year later…how COVID has impacted the shared workspace industry

Back in December 2020, we shared mid-pandemic meeting room usage trends on our blog. At the time, meeting room bookings were (slowly) trending upward again after an 82% decline in April 2020 following initial shutdowns. At the end of 2020, we at Workspace Geek, the shared workspace industry’s most intuitive management software, noticed our operators booking about 50% of the meeting rooms they had pre-pandemic.

Roughly 13 months later, Workspace Geek is facilitating meeting room books at 65% of pre-pandemic levels. While it is encouraging to see booking rates continue to trend upward month after month, that statistic tell us the jury is still out as to what long-term impact the “Zoom effect” will have on this revenue stream and the degree people return to in-person meetings, particularly as vaccines become readily available and mask mandates are loosened.

Today, overall cash flow in centers remains down. By April 2020, receipts were down 19%, by September 2020, down another 5%, and have remained at a 24% decline since. Unfortunately, it is possible many centers did not qualify for the second round of PPP as they did not meet the greater than 25% revenue loss required. In states where governments enforced stricter policies around COVID, revenue has been down significantly more.

One area of the coworking space management industry that’s thriving, according to our internal data, is eCommerce, or the selling of meeting room spaces and virtual plans online. Virtual office service sign-ups are up 120% from pre-pandemic levels. We attribute the increase to a combination of centers becoming more internet marketing savvy as they attempt to attract new business online, and center customers searching for more remote options to cut costs as they run their businesses on smaller margins.

Despite the challenging times our shared workspace operators have faced over the last year, the data gives us hope for a slow and steady “return to normal.” Operators are getting creative and staying resilient, and as worker fatigue rises due to virtualized work design models, we believe the second half of 2021 will bring more workers back to the office, even if in a hybrid capacity. That’s good news for flex space operators.