The sharing economy: workplaces must adapt to thrive

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The sharing economy is gathering tremendous pace and is set to radically alter the way we use commercial buildings in future. Those business that can embrace this trend and adapt ahead of the rest, are sure to thrive.


The sharing economy: workplaces must adapt to thrive
Picture waking up in your shared rental apartment, pulling on your hired work clothes and catching your self-driving ride-share to your co-working hotdesk which is leased by minute. Far from being science fiction, this scenario could be fact for many of us sooner than we think. The movement towards sharing resources rather than owning them, or the “sharing economy”, has progressed in leaps and bounds over the last decade. Neither Uber nor AirBNB, two darlings of the sharing economy, existed 10 years ago. They are currently valued at $68 billion and $30 billion respectively. Not bad for companies that sell no products and own no stock.

Co-working has taken hold
It is not just taxis and hotels that have been impacted by the sharing economy. Commercial buildings too have been disrupted. Thanks to companies like WeWork, a global provider of co-working space, the concept of a shared workplace has now taken hold. Originally designed with entrepreneurs, freelancers, start-ups and small businesses in mind, big businesses have been quick to realise how flexible, shared office space could benefit them too. This is however just the beginning. The next wave of co-working will reset the boundaries of established thinking once again. Take co-working provider Ziferblat, for example, which charges users per minute and throws in a load of perks from coffee and cake to well-equipped meeting rooms – and all for free.

The gig economy is on the rise
Broader changes in the way we work brought on by the sharing economy will shake up commercial real estate further. Flexible working is on the rise in the UK and the gig economy is changing the way in which businesses use talent. A growing number of companies are seeking experienced independent workers for their projects; PwC’s Talent Exchange, launched in 2016 is one such example. As the convenience and cost-effectiveness of a more flexible and “on demand” workforce become clear, others will be quick to embrace it. By 2030 we predict that 30% of all corporate space will be flexible and able to adapt as required to accommodate a shared workforce that is in constant flux.

Further disruption ahead
In almost every way the sharing economy has the potential to radically alter our relationship with commercial buildings. For example Philips recently introduced pay-as-you-go lighting, signalling a move towards selling services rather than just products. In fact new concepts tailored to the growing sharing economy are popping up all over the place. Just recently Sweden opened the first ever shopping centre to sell only recycled, upcycled or repaired goods, rather than new ones. As society embraces the sharing economy in more walks of life, all types of real estate will need to evolve accordingly.

Adapt to thrive
The sharing economy is gathering tremendous pace. Some concepts will catch on, others will evolve but the general direction towards a shared-economy is now obvious to see. We have reached a point of no return; the question is no longer when it will affect us, but how. Those business that can embrace this trend and adapt will thrive.

Article written by Tom Duncan in JLL’s UK Corporate Real Estate research team.

2 Replies to “The sharing economy: workplaces must adapt to thrive”

  1. Nick Vaughan says:

    I can see that only informed clients will embrace this method of working and it is the obvious antithesis to vacant desks and half empty floor plates within today’s ageing offices. I know of two science parks here in the south west where they are looking to provide a workplace derived from the sharing economy. They need flexible lettable space for their incubator units and the option to expand and contract on a weekly basis depending on how many staff are around at any moment in time.

    1. jlltransform says:

      Many thanks for your comment and it is interesting to hear about how this trend has implications not just in global office hubs like London, but for all urban centres. At the local or regional level, it maybe that offices become concentrated in gateway cities and hubs which have superb public transport, outstanding broadband and cutting-edge amenities, sometimes centred around academic institutions.

      Many Thanks

      Philip Hirst
      Director – Upstream Sustainability Services JLL

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