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How coworking in DC reflects the latest RTO push

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Redefining office spaces for the future

According to a report by ResumeBuilder in August 2023, approximately 98% of employers are planning to require their employees to return to the office by 2024. This mandate has been influenced by President Joe Biden’s push for federal agencies to increase in-person work, setting a precedent for the private sector, especially in the Washington, D.C. metro area.

However, this shift raises questions for employees in the district and its surroundings, especially those whose companies no longer maintain physical offices or whose roles can be performed remotely but find their home environments uninspiring. Some individuals and companies are turning to coworking or flexible office spaces to address these challenges.

In the D.C. coworking landscape, pre-pandemic favorites like The Wing’s Georgetown location have closed their doors, while other spaces like Mindspace on K Street, Hera Hub in Tenleytown, The Yard in Eastern Market, and Spaces in NOMA have gained popularity and positive reviews. WeWork, despite its turbulent history, remains a prominent player in the coworking industry, with locations throughout the D.C.-Maryland-Virginia (DMV) area.

Former WeWork CEO Sandeep Mathrani highlighted the changing dynamics of office spaces, emphasizing the value of flexibility in real estate arrangements for companies of all sizes. He acknowledged the evolving business needs and the need for intentional office design.

Adam Finch, Industrious’ Area Manager for the DMV region, echoed these sentiments, noting that companies are now competing to create appealing office environments that encourage employees to return voluntarily rather than out of necessity.

Industrious has adapted to the evolving demands, offering private phone booths and comfortable common areas to cater to various employee preferences. They’ve also observed a desire for more privacy in office spaces, leading to changes in office layout and design.

While experts debate the impact of return-to-office (RTO) policies on productivity, coworking spaces continue to gain popularity. WeWork, for instance, reported significant revenue growth, but also expressed concerns about increasing competition in the flexible workspace industry.

The question remains: is returning to the office worthwhile, and how do we measure its value? Surveys suggest that a significant portion of employees would consider quitting if required to return to the office or face RTO mandates.

One distinctive feature of flexible office spaces is their ability to foster connections not only within individual companies but also across different organizations. For instance, Industrious hosts happy hours that encourage networking and personal connections among members beyond the typical workday, strengthening bonds and friendships beyond office walls.

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