Behind the hottest office trend: The Shared Workplace

To read CBRE’s full report on shared workplaces,  click here .

To read CBRE’s full report on shared workplaces, click here.

The shared workplace is one of the hottest trends when it comes to modern office design. And while it may seem like an option for only small businesses and entrepreneurs, that’s not the case. In CBRE’s recent survey of large global occupiers, more than 40 percent are using or considering shared workplaces.

But many companies are shying away from the trend, assuming these kinds of facilities are distracting, costly, and geared only toward the post-millennial generation. But new research from CBRE Group is telling a different story: that a coworking space can be a feasible, cost-effective alternative for any type of user – even large occupiers.

“There are a number of ways large occupiers can use shared workplaces to meet their needs, including to access new markets, attract and retain talent and introduce innovation,” said Julie Whelan, CBRE Americas head of occupier research. “Contemporary shared workplaces can be powerful tools to enhance the culture and values of an organization. Whether it be to promote innovative thinking or access a better work experience for employee retention, contemporary shared workplaces offer diverse ways to support the needs of occupiers of all sizes.”

As part of a four-part series on U.S. Shared Workplaces, CBRE dissects the common misconceptions about this new type of office and highlights the advantages for companies big and small.

Of the users surveyed, 31% are using shared workplaces, while 15% are exploring its merits.


A shared workplace reflects a company’s culture by giving insight into the norms a company operates within – intentional or not, the report says. Serviced offices have a more formal, private and customary culture, while coworking facilities reflect a more progressive, transparent and modern culture. The choice in environment is “a lens into the type of values a company employs,” CBRE says. The office can reflect a company’s mission to be new and innovative and draw on the expertise of other organizations within the space.

Large organizations are starting to use the coworking model for specific departments or project teams within their organization that don’t fit the cultural mold of the legacy office space, the report says. Today’s labor force wants a great work experience that’s functional, provides freedom of work style, and promotes a sense of community among related organizations.

Today’s labor force wants connectivity, flexibility, plenty of amenities, and public transport accessibility, among other factors.


The benefits of community within a collaborative environment cannot be understated. After all, connectivity to peers, clients and partners is critical to the success of any business, large or small. Connectivity today is assumed through technological advances and social networking, but the physical environment must be intentional too, CBRE says.

Even landlords are catching onto this desire for community and networking. They’re turning the office building into a connected ecosystem of diverse uses, rich programming and amenities.

“The primary objective is to improve the occupier experience and promote retention, but the outcome is vibrant campuses that serve a greater purpose than simply a place to work,” the report says.

Landlords and investors are now partnering with coworking organizations to achieve their goals of a more diverse, connected tenant community. An impressive example of this phenomenon is occurring right in our backyards as Lenexa-based Plexpod teams up with Kansas City Sustainable Development Partners to turn Westport Middle School into the largest coworking campus in the world.

A look at the interactions between organizations using the shared workplace highlights the perks of a collaborative community.


The shared office place was born from the needs of a cohort consisting of solopreneurs, consultants, part-time and remote workers, project teams, startups, companies with short-term horizons, and public institutions looking to access new markets. Because this group does not lend itself well to full scale offices, a shared workplace can be far more cost effective versus the traditional office lease, offering flexibility, agility, and an innovative cost approach.

It’s an especially cost-effective option in major gateway markets, but has a number of other intangible benefits as well, including built-in amenities and the ability for an organization to scale as needed. Compared to a traditional office space lease, a shared workplace lease removes the negotiating process, which improves speed to market, flexibility to scale the requirement as the occupier’s needs grow.

Read more by downloading the full report.