According to research from PwC, Millennials are expected to make up 50 percent of the global workforce by 2020. Born at the end of the 20th century, they are a generation that grew up immersed in technology and social media.
They – and we generalise – have no qualms about being digital nomads, travelling frequently or relocating for work. They seek out experiences and value being part of a community. They are also highly adaptable and much more willing to share facilities: at the end of the day it doesn’t matter if the pantry is doubling up as a working area and networking spot – it’s all worth it if you can feel like you belong and have the possibility to hang out with like-minded people.
The rise of co-living
And so it’s no surprise that co-living, defined as a modern, urban type of accommodation with shared living spaces, is beginning to gain traction. The demand for co-living stems from similar reasons to the rise in co-working – a mobile generation of young people who demand flexibility, openness and collaboration and blur the boundaries between business and pleasure, work and play.
More than serviced apartments
Major hospitality players are taking note of this new and growing market segment. In New York, the co-working specialist WeWork launched its co-living apartments WeLive last year, while the Ascott group has created a new co-living brand called LYF and is trialling the concept in China and Singapore whilst building a data reservoir of user preferences and space usage patterns to influence its further developments. Closer to home, London is home to The Collective’s Old Oak, the world’s largest co-living scheme. The communal residents’ facilities include a cinema and sports bar, gym, games room, library and a secret garden. Home to over 500 people, the scheme is marketed as “a way of living focused on a genuine sense of community”.
Tackling urban life
As our cities become denser and more expensive, co-living addresses some of the key issues of urban living, such as loneliness exacerbated by over-reliance on technology and social media. A lot of the people living at Old Oak had just moved to London; many went through major life changes such as divorces and moved there in an attempt to revamp their lives. Being part of a community helps them settle in quickly and find friends.
The demand for co-living is growing from the corporate side as well. Multinational corporations and start-ups alike want collaborative living spaces with high quality facilities and office-standard technology for their project teams and interns wherever they are in the world. Having access to a variety of ‘public’ spaces also makes working from home much easier.
Co-living: here to stay?
Co-living is a neat solution to several demographic trends, creating a fresh mode of accommodation for the next generation of inhabitants. And while there will always be a demand for condominium apartments or traditional serviced apartments, especially for people with families and for those who are settling in for the long run, there is no denying that co-living has a role to play as millennials come to dominate the workforce.