Coworking study A Regus studyshows a shift in jobs and capital moving out of city centers intosuburban areas (credit: Austin Distel).

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DALLAS—The increasing migration of flexible office space andco-working locations to areas outside of major metropolitan citiesglobally is creating a flex economy that could contribute more than$127 billion to US local communities in the next decade, accordingto the first comprehensive socio-economic study of suburbanworkspaces from Regus. This global migration could contribute morethan $254 billion to economies around the world during that sametime period.

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"This study reveals a shift in jobs and capital growth movingoutside of city centers, where it has been focused for the last fewdecades, into suburban locations," said Steve Lucas, report author."This can benefit businesses and people, from improvingproductivity and innovation, to reducing commuting time, whichleads to improved health and well-being."

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The study uncovered several interesting observations. Onaverage, 161 new jobs can be created in US locations that contain aflexible workspace, higher than the global average of 121 new jobs.Opening a flexible workspace in the US can account for up to $18.88million going directly into the local economy per year.

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Aside from the direct financial impact, co-working has beenfound to benefit workers and local regions in other societal ways.In the US, this means a reduction in the time spent commuting. Thatis, access to a local office space can save up to 21,783 hours peryear (or 908 days), of which 10,892 hours (or 454 days) are assumedto be used for personal purposes, the most time of any of the 19countries analyzed in the Regus study.

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Co-working also stimulates businesses and services in the nearbylocal areas by generating more than $28 million in gross valueadded each year in the United States, the largest of any countryanalyzed in the study. Moreover, creating shorter commute times hasbeen shown to reduce stress levels, and increase staff morale andresilience, as well as mental well-being.

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"When people commute into major cities, their wallets commutewith them. Working locally keeps that spending power closer tohome," said Mark Dixon, CEO for Regus' parent company IWG. "Whatthis study shows is that providing more opportunities for people towork closer to home can have a tremendous effect not just on them,but on their local area too. Businesses also recognize the benefitsand we are seeing increasing demand from companies of all sizes forflexible space in smaller cities and towns."

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This rise in local working is being largely driven by bigcompanies adopting flexible working policies, moving away fromrelying on a single central headquarters and increasingly basingemployees outside of the major metropolitan hubs in flex spaces.Most are doing so to improve employee well-being by allowingworkforces to work closer to home, and also to save money and boostproductivity.

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One metro that is getting in on the co-working craze isDallas-Fort Worth. This changing mindset is due to the growingworkforce and sprawling infrastructure of the DFW region,precipitating the need for flexible workspace.

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"The perception and the concept of co-working continue to growin a positive manner. People love the diversity in the IWG brands(Spaces, Regus) and the local convenience," Michael Berretta, vicepresident of network development with IWG tells GlobeSt.com."Corporate customers also favor the speed and ease of entering anew market for a regional headquarters or the cost savings fromflexible terms for remote or field sales personnel. Considering ourUS headquarters is also located in Dallas, we expect to continueour growth in the region and will look for ways to expand ourportfolio in DFW."

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IWG opened three Dallas-area Spaces locations in 2019 with threemore scheduled to open in the first half of 2020. IWG will open itsfirst Signature Regus location in Dallas in 2020 and currently hasmore than 130,000 square feet in the metro.

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"As we continue to grow Spaces, we are always on the lookout forcommunities that have a solid demand for flexible workspace and DFWis a prime example of that," Berretta tells GlobeSt.com. "We'reexpecting to see continued growth in the area and the industry as awhole for the decade as corporations make adjustments to their realestate portfolios, and as demand grows for shorter commute timesfor environmentally conscious and work-life balance focusedworkers."

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The analysis, commissioned by Regus and conducted by independenteconomists, studied key countries to delve into the economic andsocial impact of flexible workspaces in secondary and tertiarycities, as well as suburban areas through 2029.

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Lisa Brown

Lisa Brown is an editor for the south and west regions of GlobeSt.com. She has 25-plus years of real estate experience, with a regional PR role at Grubb & Ellis and a national communications position at MMI. Brown also spent 10 years as executive director at NAIOP San Francisco Bay Area chapter, where she led the organization to achieving its first national award honors and recognition on Capitol Hill. She has written extensively on commercial real estate topics and edited numerous pieces on the subject.