WeWork’s acquisition signals further shift to mobile office work

Ucommune, formerly URWork, offers shared office spaces to small businesses and entrepreneurs. These activities are similar to U.S. firm WeWork, which provides shared workspaces, technology startup subculture communities, and services for entrepreneurs, freelancers, and small businesses. Both of these companies have been engaging in mergers and acquisitions.

According to TechCrunch WeWork has entered into a a merger with Naked Hub and Ucommune is slowly picking up smaller rivals, such as Workingdom for 300 million Renminbi ($45 million). The Ucommune move adds over 11,000 square meters of co-working space in the commercial capital of Shanghai. The company has also recently acquired Wedo, Woo Space, and New Space.

Interesting as these deals are, it is the sign that mobile forms of work are continuing to grow that are of greater significance. Take Central London, for instance, flexible workplace providers have taken around 20 percent of office space, and competition in is intensifying. The biggest driver for this, according to a report from Cushman and Wakefield called ‘Coworking 2018’, is the growth in self-employment and the growth in small business models, invariably entered around startups.

A further driver comes from a different report from Regus titled “The workplace revolution“. This driver is about the changing

workforce, where younger entrants into the world of work are now expecting to be able to communicate cheaply and rapidly from anywhere in the world, and it is up to office space providers to meet this need. A second driver is mobility, where the young self-employed want to move around a city and set-up a connected work environment for as little as a few hours.

Also linked to this style of working is the hybrid-office, which Fortune defines as: “The next-generation office combines private offices, cubicle banks and truly open floor plans (in which even cubicle dividers are dismantled) as well as communal areas and sound-proof rooms where employees can go to concentrate on solo work. … The end result is a hybrid office, which incorporates a range of spaces and gives employees the autonomy to move between them throughout the day.”

Meeting these demands, especially in the technology and startup sectors, is a lucrative area for companies like WeWork and Ucommune. The continuing growth of these co-working companies signal that the conventional approach to work and setting up business is significantly shifting.

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