There are approximately 31m people employed in the UK.
The mindset of the majority of employers is to retain a hybrid model - with 2-4 days a week spent working from home - and 85% of the workforce expect to work that way going forward.
That's nearly 12m people spending a significant amount of time away from an office.
The co-working sector has not been slow to embrace the opportunity this affords. More and more aesthetically pleasing building refurbs aimed at casually attending workers and teams are offering to bridge the gap between home and the traditional office.
The prevalence is to put them in city centres, which kind of makes sense as about 80% of the population live there and the concentration of offices has traditionally been in those hubs.
However, the pandemic saw an interesting migration away from the cities into villages and rural areas as people sought to cash in on remote working and enjoy the lifestyle and finacial benefit of dialling down the pace of living.
So there is a population - about 3-5m strong - living outside of cities, operating remotely with no desire to unecessarily commute, for whom local meeting and workspace would hold real appeal.
Now co-working is a tricky model to make work. The lack of long term commitment to use the space doesn't align well with fixed overheads and costs. So creating built for purpose space out of town is a risky proposition.
However, our local towns and villages are full of existing spaces that already offer, or can be easily spruced up to offer small meeting, collaboration and workspace. Council venues, community, school, college and church halls, sports pavillions. All local assets, all under utilised, all offering the opportunity to create much needed revenue from a new customer group seeking local workspace solutions.
By making some small investments to make these spaces appealing, engaging with local businesses, marketing them in a manner that speaks to this specific opportunity and making booking and payment super simple, local bodies can meet the needs of a population of workers looking for a break from home, a place to catch-up with nearby colleagues or a venue to learn and network.
And, as more and more local service businesses emerge as a reflection of Monday to Friday demand growing due to remote working, 3rd party partnerships can be put in place to provide tea, coffee, buffet lunches, 'after work' drinks packages and even broader lifestyle benefits like on location personal training, or bicycle servicing while you wait.
There is an opportunity to be the beating heart of a localised eco-system for remote and hybrid workers, and the assets required to deliver this are already at the disposal of councils, schools and other community bodies.
Ambitious councils are already taking action and creating a new community service that meets the new needs of their residents. Rushcliffe Borough Council in Nottinghamshire, for example, has made a big investment in providing hybrid technology at its headquarters for the benefit of local businesses and groups.
A market has emerged, and our local community organisations are in a unique positions to serve it.