It's no secret that coworking spaces are now springing up all over the country, and that their regional expansion is gathering pace. Encouraged by government initiatives and the desire of companies to offer their employees ever more alternative solutions, the major coworking brands are continuing to expand. A case in point is Groupe IWG's new Spaces space opened in Montpellier last December. Coworking spaces are helping to revitalize neighborhoods, stimulate economic renewal, forge social links, attract talent and support local businesses, making them genuine levers for economic revitalization. Their flexibility, their ability to bring together mixed professional communities and their impact on the economic fabric make them key players in strengthening local economies. We explain why and how in detail!

Coworking: a model that's conquering new territories!

Developments in the world of work are going from strength to strength. While coworking is now a widely-adopted and widely-recommended way of working, models are constantly evolving.

In Paris and the Île de Lea, the model is moving upmarket, offering high-end services for employees of major groups. In Belgium, the phenomenon is also gaining momentum, particularly in cities such as Brussels, Antwerp and Ghent, where coworking is developing at a rapid pace, driven by a growing demand for flexibility and innovation in the workspace.

In the regions, demand is booming. Large regional metropolises such as Lyon, Lille and Bordeaux are boosting the market and becoming the new playground for coworking. IWG, Startway, Flex-O, Hiptown, Now Connected, Newton Offices... all the major players in coworking are there, and are making it a priority for their development.

The same enthusiasm for coworking can be observed in Belgian cities, where local and international players such as Silversquare and Office Center are increasingly establishing their spaces, reinforcing the dynamism of the Belgian market.

In a recent interview,Christophe Burckart, IWG France Managing Director, confided that " we estimate our potential for France as a whole at 1,100 centers ", before confirming his desire to expand into the 15 largest French cities.

Indeed, while the IDF accounts for 37.08% ofFrance's coworking offer (+3.37%), the regional metropolises are showing very encouraging growth. The pandemic has had a considerable impact on companies' real estate strategies, prompting them to refocus some of their offices in Paris, while seeking to establish new spaces in the regions. This movement is fuelled by the desire for easy access to the rail network, to enable rapid travel to the provinces. This shift is reflected in a significant increase in demand for flexible office space in Paris, up 20%, while La Défense is down 8%.

Expansion of Le Bureau Flexible: Regional metropolises on the rise

Metropolises located one to two hours by train from Paris are the main beneficiaries of this trend. Lyon and Bordeaux, in particular, have seen a significant increase in demand.

This dynamic also extends beyond France's borders, with cities such asAntwerp and Lea in Belgium benefiting from this development. The key challenge now lies in multiplying the number of players offering flexible office solutions in the French provinces, in order to meet growing demand and expand the offer rapidly and massively.

This development reflects not only an adaptation to the new preferences of workers, who favor flexibility and diversity of workplaces, but also a strategy aimed at attracting talent from outside the Paris region. By concentrating their efforts on regional metropolises, companies can offer their employees a choice of location while stimulating local economic development. The flexible office market in the provinces is set to expand further with the emergence of specialized players in these regions.

How is coworking supported by public action?

In February 2018, at the initiative of the French Ministry of Territorial Cohesion, the Fondation Travailler Autrement initiated the first "Mission Coworking: Territoires, Travail, Numérique". The main challenges were to identify the most successful business models on the territory and initiate a transition towards renewal of the professional world, while supporting regional development.

In Belgium, similar initiatives were set up to encourage the development of such spaces, recognizing their value in supporting regional economic growth. A few years later, and in view of the exponential growth of coworking in France and Belgium, the initiatives continue. In Belgium, similar initiatives have been put in place to encourage the development of such spaces, recognizing their value in supporting regional economic growth.

In 2019, for example, the government launched the "New Places, New Links" project, recognizing coworking spaces as a public service. The aim this time being to support brands wishing to set up in the regions. Nearly 46% of coworking spaces today are located outside metropolitan areas. This highlights the crucial role played by coworking spaces in the development of local interaction and prosperity throughout France and Belgium. These spaces have become key players in the ecological and digital transition in the regions.

In 2023, a Conseil National des Tiers Lieux was also created as part of the Fabrique des Territoires project, and a permanent €45 million AMI was launched. The challenge? Accelerate the development of 300 new spaces, including 150 in priority neighborhoods.

Coworking spaces in the regions do much more than simply organize work. They make a real contribution to local development. La Maison du Coworking points out thatby 2030, 8 to 13% of jobs will be associated with flexible workspaces.

We've listed a few other interesting figures, but rather than choose just one or two, we'll leave you to discover the economics of third places and coworking thanks to the highly instructive infographic by France Tiers Lieux.

What if regional coworking didn't exist?

If coworking didn't exist, the French and Belgian regions would face several significant consequences. Firstly, local economic dynamism would be impacted, as coworking spaces are engines of activity, fostering entrepreneurship, innovation and job creation.

In the absence of these collaborative spaces, talent and skills could be less attracted to regions, as coworking offers an environment conducive to collaboration and creativity, essential elements for economic growth. This could make regions less attractive to professionals seeking a work-life balance.

What's more, coworking plays a key role in the digital transition of regions. By offering modern, connected infrastructures, these spaces contribute to the growth of local businesses in a context of digital transformation. Without coworking, regions could be less well equipped to meet the challenges of the digital world.

The absence of coworking facilities would therefore have a disastrous impact on economic activity, the attractiveness of regions and the ability of territories to adapt to the challenges of the digital revolution.

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