Over the past 10 years, co-working spaces – serviced offices available on short-term agreements – have been the domain of solopreneurs, freelancers, contract workers and remote workers. But not anymore. Large corporates are fast seeing the advantages of co-working spaces, and integrating their use into everyday operations to benefit both their business and their bottom line.

The move, known as corporate co-working, has gained momentum overseas in the past year, where corporates have been increasingly using co-working spaces to provide their staff with access to stimulating environments outside their standard workspaces.

Co-working venues are seen to be vibrant, fresh and creative spaces that encourage collaboration, networking and innovative thinking. Corporates are hoping to tap into this, breaking down traditional work silos and encouraging new creative thinking among staff.

It’s not uncommon in some companies for idea-generating teams to spend a couple of days each week in a co-working space, or for specific project teams to set up shop for the duration of a project in such centres. Aside from the creative stimulus, companies report increased productivity from these employees.

But fast overtaking this trend is corporates using these flexible workspaces as satellite offices. There’s a major push the world over for companies to cut costs, and one of the most attractive offerings of the co-working space is low overheads.

These venues offer all the amenities of a traditional office but on short, adaptable terms and at budget-friendly prices. Corporates branching into new geographical areas, and those looking to reduce existing office space costs and cut back on employees’ commuting time and costs, are turning to co-working venues for the solution.

One Californian-based electronics company redesigned their corporate workspace to accommodate just 60% of their head count at any given time, with the rest using co-working spaces. The move resulted in a cost saving of around $4 million.

In South Africa, we’re seeing large companies using the co-working offering as a cost-effective alternative to leasing expensive office space in highly sought-after business centres as they expand into new provinces.

Dieago, a leading Cape Town-based beverage company, recently took up space at our brand new co-working business hub at Waterfall Park in Midrand as a stopgap while its new Joburg offices were being completed. The solution was so affordable, it allowed the company to grow its requirement from 30 desks in the first month to 60 desks in the second month and 90 desks in the third month, as more staff were brought on board.

Not only did this substantially reduce costs and offer the company a flexible, short-term agreement, but it enabled it to ensure continuous operations with a zero drop in productivity, resulting in sustained profitability.

With the screws on our economy being tightened even more in light of increasing living, infrastructure and running costs and interest rate hikes, there has never been a more appropriate time for big business to look beyond the traditional workspace model for more cost-efficient options.

And with co-working spaces being touted as the workplaces of the future, there’s no doubt this innovative solution is top of the list.