The Bulgarian capital city Sofia ranks 19 in Europe by the stock of coworking spaces, followed by Bucharest, according to the European Coworking Hotspot Index by Cushman&Wakefield. Flexible shared offices account for around 2% of all the office space in the city and by this indicator, Sofia is comparable to Stockholm and Warsaw. An interesting fact is that all the spaces are developed and operated by local companies. Betahaus, the first coworking space in Sofia, is the only one related to an international player but it is also operated by a local company.
London, Amsterdam, Paris, Stockholm, and Berlin lead the European coworking space market. London is Europe’s largest coworking market measured with close to 5% of all spaces operated by coworking companies. In continental Europe, the real estate consultant estimates that coworking space accounts for no more than 2% of the overall stock. The greatest exception is Amsterdam, where 6% of the total office stock is operated as coworking space. Other major cities with over 100 000 sq m of coworking space are
Berlin, Brussels, Milan, Moscow, Munich, Paris and Stockholm. Among the global top 20 coworking markets, there are six European cities.
Ambitious local players
The volume of the three largest co-working spaces in Sofia (Puzl, Campus X, Work&Share) is around – 27 000 sq m. The three long-established local coworking brands have generated just under €1.4M in revenues in 2017, the financial reports of Puzl CowOrKing, Betahaus, and Work&Share show. And this was even before another large hub – Campus X with its 1.3K desks and 18 000 sq m, was opened.
Apart from the biggest players that host rather tech-oriented companies and communities, we’ve counted around 15 other spaces with diverse concepts and sizes. These are hubs dedicated to specific sectors and activities such as social entrepreneurship (The NGO House, Coworking by MOVE.BG) or creative ones (Soho, Cosmos, Generator). At the end of this month Missia23, a new space dedicated to creative industries with over 1000 m2 will open in the center of the city.
Generalists & special interests
Cushman&Walkfield report further states that while many coworking operators started with the simple aim to create a place for like-minded people to work collaboratively and took a role as a generalist property owner, other operators took roles of specialists.
In the first case, the leading factors are the coworking spaces as alternatives to home offices, coffee shops or conventional spaces. In the second, the operators try to catalyze the forming of communities and content as part of the strategy. Some aimed to appeal to tech or creative fields, acted as a host and put themselves at the center of the fastest growing industries. These operators have expanded their services to include business administrative support and some have developed successful corporate event businesses.
The specialist approach is harder to scale-up across cities but scale can come by running larger sites, the report states. On the one hand, the growth in tech justifies such moves. In addition, the tech transformation in sectors such as finances and life sciences might turn FinTech and MedTech into the major drivers for specialized coworking spaces shifting towards research centers and science parks.