- ‘Coworking’-related searches began their sustained climb in mid-2007 and peaked in mid-2021.
- The search interest for ‘coworking’ was strong and relatively level in 2022, suggesting stabilizing demand — interest levels peaked in July but seasonal fluctuation remained modest.
- ‘Virtual office’ searches dominated the niche keywords, maintaining high levels of interest throughout the last 12 months.
- New York State; Washington, D.C.; Virginia; and Colorado stood out in the rankings for several generic and niche keywords, signaling strong interest for a wide range of coworking services in these areas.
The coworking phenomenon has experienced tremendous growth in recent years due to the increasing demand for flexible office space solutions among startups, small and medium-sized businesses, enterprise clients, and the steadily growing freelancer community. As coworking spaces gain more interest and recognition, web search trends can help operators and investors make better decisions as they’re a good indicator of market stability, and an upward trend can signal future demand.
In this report, we analyzed Google search trends for some of the most relevant coworking-related keywords. Specifically, we’ve provided an overview on almost two decades, as well as a deeper dive into the past 12 months’ data. In doing so, we identified evolution patterns, geographical distribution and key events.
Coworking Consistently Gains Attention for 2 Decades, with Sudden Upswings Prior to COVID
The modern coworking concept and modern search engines are roughly the same age. However, coworking was still in its infancy when the dot-com bubble burst. Looking at web search trends, it wasn’t until the next big economic downturn from late 2007 into 2009 when coworking started to not only gather interest but also manage to sustain it and keep growing. More precisely, the first all-time-high was registered in June 2011, followed by three more record months roughly one year apart. Then, the frequency increased: from 2015 to 2017 each year recorded four historic highs.
October 2017 saw the first significant month-over-month increase, registering 25% more coworking-related searches than the previous month. By this time, commercial results from coworking space marketplaces had started to break the dominance of informational content on the first result page, ranking high for keywords like ‘coworking space near me.’ At the same time, stories such as WeWork’s dynamic expansion, Apple moving a small Berlin team into Mindspace, or a hot spring pool in Beijing being converted into a coworking space were making headlines. Even so, the concept still wasn’t widely understood, as the ‘people also ask’ section at the time demonstrated.
Key metrics used in this report
Interest over time
Interest over time scores are a percentage of search volume where 100 is the point of highest interest within the given timeframe — irrespective of actual search volume.
Interest by subregion
Similarly, the most popular region for coworking searches (as a portion of all searches) gets the 100 value, and all other regions are compared to this region.
For both metrics, a score of 0 means there was not enough data for the term.
Read the methodology section for more details.
Next, the second prominent spike was in January 2020, before lockdowns worldwide started to transform the ways of desk-bound work. Accordingly, it was the drop that followed that was more significant, bottoming out in April when headlines like ‘Will COVID-19 be the death of coworking spaces?’ and ‘We’re About To Find Out How Durable The Coworking Business Model Is’ started to find their way into the top results. By this time people also started having more targeted questions such as ‘Who needs coworking space?’ or ‘What are the benefits of coworking?’
The current record-holding period is June 2021: although the Delta variant of the coronavirus was releasing a third wave of infections, demand from remote workers and enterprises downsizing their traditional office footprints had picked up. In turn, the coworking industry was increasingly showing signs of optimism with new locations being announced almost daily. The general public was also taking notice of the new breed of office space, flooding Google Search with questions like ‘Why is coworking so popular?’
12-Month Trends — When & Where People Search the Most for Coworking
For a better understanding of the latest search trends, we selected four popular keywords for a closer look throughout the last 12-month period:
- ‘Coworking’ — to follow up on the high-level historical trend;
- ’Shared office space’ — to emphasize fluctuations in interest using a less common synonym;
- ’Virtual office’ — to analyze a popular subscription type;
- ’Private office space’ — to juxtapose the previous findings with a high-end coworking service.
1. Top Search Term: ‘Coworking’ — An Up-Close View on the Last 12 Months’ Trends
The search interest for coworking remained relatively stable in the first months of 2022. Later, it began to increase in mid-June and peaked in mid-July. It then remained largely above the pre-peak levels until late November, when it bottomed out at an interest score of 64. Still, this is only a 36% dip from the highest level. Thus, this consistency suggests that the industry is stabilizing, and that annual seasonality doesn’t have a significant influence on people’s intent to book a flexible workspace or learn about coworking.
In terms of locations, Washington, D.C. topped the list with the highest ratio of coworking-related searches in the last 12-month period, followed by Hawaii and Colorado almost neck-and-neck. Notably, the nation’s capital boasted the third-highest number of coworking spaces in the country. Likewise, the Hawaii flex space market was also heating up, with Honolulu registering the fourth-highest median price for dedicated desk subscriptions. Not to be outdone, New York state took 4th place with a score of 67 while the fifth position went to Oregon, where the popularity of coworking-related searches was half of that registered in D.C.
2. ‘Shared Office Space’ — Search Term’s Lower Popularity Accentuates Relative Fluctuations
Although shared office spaces are technically a type of coworking arrangement in which clients from different backgrounds share the same open-layout office space and amenities, the expression is commonly used as an alternative term for the wider concept of coworking spaces. Thus, given the significant overlap in terms of search intent, one might expect a similar interest pattern.
Granted, the curve is indeed comparable to that of the coworking keyword: it started at half of the peak popularity in February, culminated in the same week in July and gradually returned to similar levels throughout the following months. The lowest point was also registered in the fall — just a little earlier, in September. However, the difference was that, while ‘coworking’ had an average interest score of 81 throughout one year, ‘shared office space’ averaged only 59. This represented higher volatility and a lower base line — specific to less-popular synonyms that fewer users search for — which amplified the peaks and valleys drawn by the interest-over-time metric.
What’s more, despite its clear similarities to the ‘coworking,’ keyword, the leaderboard changed when we considered the more targeted ‘shared office space’ key phrase. New York jumped from 4th place to the very top; Colorado was runner-up after climbing one position; and Washington, D.C. just missed the podium by a hair, coming in fourth place. Virginia came up to third place and New Jersey completed the top-five with an interest-by-subregion score of 69.
Moreover, the lower popularity of the search term was also more apparent on the distribution map: clearly, there was interest in the high-intensity coastal, Southern and Midwestern office markets. That said, most of west north-central and mountain states, as well as parts of the South and Northeast — areas that did have significant search activity for ‘coworking,’ — showed no interest for ‘shared office space.’ And because the latter signals a more specific intent, it makes sense that areas with larger business communities would light up on the map.
3. ‘Virtual Office’ — A Niche Keyword with Consistently High Interest
The search activity for virtual office started at a high level in February 2022 with a score of 89. It then peaked soon after in early March, maintaining more than 80% of that interest until mid-May before it began decreasing and reached its lowest point in November with an interest over time score of 61, despite being interrupted by two brief upswings to 90+ levels in June and August. Later, interest for virtual offices bounced back and maintained similar levels during the winter months, although with lower spikes.
Of course, the consistently high relative search volume for virtual offices (with an average interest score of 80 throughout 12 months) could be attributed to a growing trend in remote work, as this type of coworking subscription responds to remote businesses’ need for a professional address and phone/mail services.
The same, uniform level of search activity was reflected in the geographical distribution, too, underscoring the widespread need for virtual office services. In particular, East Coast regions with significant business activity and lively startup communities had the highest interest for ‘virtual office’ queries. And once again, Washington, D.C. led the pack with the highest percentage of ‘virtual office’ searches. Georgia came in 22% lower, with an interest-by-subregion score of 78. New York also remained on the podium in this niche, followed closely by Virginia. Rounding out the top five was Maryland , where the popularity of ‘virtual office’ web searches stood at roughly two-thirds that of the Washington, D.C. level.
4. ‘Private Office Space’ — Interest Sparse Throughout the Year, Primarily in Top Office Markets
Meanwhile, the search interest for private office space remained relatively stable throughout the year. Although the graph shows steep increases and declines, the explanation coincides with what we saw regarding ‘shared office space’ above: with lower-volume keywords, the relative fluctuations were naturally higher.
More precisely, the peak activity was logged in late January, with similar levels registered in February, April and October. Conversely, the low points were in September and mid-December, when Google recorded no noteworthy search activity for ‘private office spaces.’ However, because these were only short periods, we can realistically expect similar hiatuses to fill in — provided that the overall search volume for ‘coworking’ and ‘private office’ queries continues to increase over time.
Here again, because private office spaces represent such a niche market segment, aimed at teams and individuals with high budgets and specific needs, it’s not surprising to see most of the map blank in the geographical distribution. In contrast, the buzzing startup scenes of the Tri-state area, the leading California markets, Chicago and the large Texas business hubs are fertile ground for such clientele to pop up. Otherwise, only three other states have saw any notable activity: Florida, Virginia and North Carolina with interest-by-subregion scores of 49, 46 and 16, respectively.
- To create this study, CoworkingCafe relied on Google Trends data as of February 22nd, 2023.
- Interest over time — Data points represent aggregated monthly scores for the January, 2004, through February, 2023 period as well as aggregated weekly scores for the Feb. 22, 2022, through Feb 22, 2023 period.
– The scores represent search interest relative to the point of highest search volume (score 100) within the analyzed timeframe.
– For example, a score of 50 means the respective time period had half the search volume registered in the peak period.
- Interest by subregion (U.S. states and districts) — Data points represent state and district-wide scores for the Feb. 22, 2022, through Feb 22, 2023 period.
– Similarly, the scores represent search interest relative to the location with the highest, 100 score. To adjust for population differences, interest by subregion reflects the share of related searches out of all searches within the analyzed region and timeframe — not the absolute search volume.
– Consequently, a small region like Washington, D.C. can get a 100 score as ‘coworking’ search queries in D.C. make up the highest share of all searches out of all U.S. regions. At the same time a large state such as Oregon can score 50 as this percentage is half of what was registered in the Capital.
- For historical ranking page analysis Ahrefs archives were used. Factual data — such as ranking positions, trending stories or commonly asked questions mentioned in this article — reflect the last available snapshot from the peak periods analyzed.
Fair Use & Redistribution
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