Skip to main content
Erschienen in:

Open Access 2023 | OriginalPaper | Buchkapitel

The Booming Growth of Coworking Spaces During the COVID-19 Pandemic in Turkey

verfasst von : Tüzin Baycan, Meltem Parlak Mavitan, Gülfiye Özcan Alp

Erschienen in: European Narratives on Remote Working and Coworking During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Verlag: Springer Nature Switzerland

Aktivieren Sie unsere intelligente Suche, um passende Fachinhalte oder Patente zu finden.

search-config
loading …

Abstract

The rise of teleworking and coworking has been remarkable in Turkey, especially in the last decade. Nevertheless, the country has experienced a boom in coworking spaces (CSs) during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the number of CSs has increased dramatically from 71 in 2020 to 162 in 2022; therefore, the increase is more than doubled. This chapter investigates the reasons behind this dramatic increase, the rising demand for CSs, and the response of CSs to the implications of COVID-19. The narratives in this chapter highlight the changing demands of coworkers, the challenges that CSs face, and new coworking concepts that have emerged.

1 Impacts of the COVID-19 Pandemic and the Rise of Coworking Spaces in Turkey

The first case of COVID-19 in Turkey was observed on March 11, 2020, the day before the World Health Organization declared a global pandemic. It then rapidly spread across the country through metropolitan cities, such as Istanbul, Ankara, and Izmir. Following the first case, the government developed and implemented different policies and several regulations depending on the number of cases, deaths, and vaccinated individuals to keep the pandemic under control. These implemented policies and regulations can be classified into the five main periods of the pandemic process:
1.
First Case of COVID-19 and First Restrictions (March 2020—May 2020): Implementation of strict regulations, including curfews, restriction of public transportation use, working from home, and online education. The slogan of this lockdown period was “Life Fits Into Home.”
 
2.
Controlled Social Life (May 2020—November 2020): The Controlled Social Life Program, with the slogan of “mask, distance, and cleaning,” encourages people to return to social life.
 
3.
New Precautions for the COVID-19 Pandemic (November 2020July 2021): Increase in the number of cases and expanded curfew practices once again, limited vaccination for people at risk and priority groups.
 
4.
New Normalization (July 2021—May 2022): Widespread vaccination, resumption of face-to-face education, and the opening of social activity areas while obeying the rule of “mask, distance, and cleaning.” The slogan of this period having more flexibility was the “New Normal.”
 
5.
End of Restrictions (since May 2022): Removing all restrictions except using masks in hospitals. Back to normal.
 
During this process, several lockdowns and strict regulations have affected all businesses and companies, especially in densely populated metropolitan cities. The shift to remote or hybrid working has increasingly become a new working model in Turkey. The shift to flexible working conditions has also triggered the need for flexible working places, and the already rise of CSs has gained momentum with the COVID-19 pandemic.
While the rise of teleworking and coworking has been remarkable in Turkey, especially in the last decade [8, 9], the country has experienced a boom in CSs during the COVID-19 pandemic (Fig. 1). According to the registered CSs data from coworking.com, the total number of CSs has increased dramatically from 71 in 2020 to 162 in 2022; therefore, the increase is more than doubled [2]. Updated data with the non-registered CSs to coworker.com network, actually the total number of CSs has shifted from 86 to 170 in Turkey (Fig. 1).
Besides the hybrid working model and the need for flexible working conditions, the rise of CSs during the COVID-19 pandemic was also triggered by the sharp depreciation of the Turkish currency in 2021 and the major hikes in electricity and natural gas prices that have pushed many firms and freelancers towards a cheaper option. Therefore, CSs have become a cost-effective and innovative alternative providing a unique opportunity for their users to socialize during the COVID-19 pandemic and rising prices. These reasons have led Turkey to experience a boom in CSs in recent years.
Although the total number of CSs has increased in various cities in Turkey, a remarkable increase has been observed in metropolitan cities: Istanbul is leading with the total number of 125 CSs, Izmir and Ankara follow Istanbul with the total number of 12 and 10 CSs respectively. In addition to the top three metropolitan cities, the rise of CSs has been observed in the coastal cities of Antalya and Mugla, where 10 CSs are located (Fig. 2).
The rise of coworking has not been limited to the increasing number of spaces. Still, the demand for these spaces has also changed and diversified with new and increasing services offering: a ‘virtual office’ option based on providing legal company address, receiving cargo and telephone, networking opportunities; organizing ‘online events’; and even emerging new types of CSs such as ‘beach club’ or ‘surf house’. Recently, the demand for CSs has also increased internationally because of the war between Russia and Ukraine. Geographical proximity and Turkey’s position as a mediator have created attractive conditions for both countries’ employees escaping from war. The following section focuses on the reasons behind the rise and the response of CSs to the COVID-19 pandemic in Turkey.

2 The Response of Coworking Spaces to the COVID-19 Pandemic in Turkey

As mentioned in the previous section, following the first case of COVID-19 in March 2020, several regulations, including the closure of all workplaces except essential sectors, curfews, remote working, online education, and so on, were developed and implemented immediately by the government. The impacts of the first strict regulations were sharp on all businesses and also CSs. In the following periods, CSs have gradually developed their own strategies to respond to the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic and to meet the rising and changing demands of coworkers.
This study aims to investigate the reasons behind the booming growth of CSs during the COVID-19 pandemic in Turkey and to understand the response of CSs to the implications of COVID-19. To do so, a small survey based on semi-structured in-depth interviews was conducted with the CSs managers in Istanbul, Ankara, and Izmir, the biggest metropolitan cities where almost 90% of CSs in Turkey are clustered. In addition, the activities and visibility of CSs in social media, websites, and blog posts during the pandemic were examined to support the interviews. Different typologies of CSs have been selected for the survey, including international chain CSs located in different cities of Turkey; local brand CSs located in a single city with several locations; and mostly community-based CSs situated in a specific city; in order to understand their reaction to the pandemic comprehensively. The following sub-sections focus on the general COVID-19 precautions implemented by CSs in Turkey as well as their response to the challenges that emerged with the pandemic.

2.1 General COVID-19 Regulations in Coworking Spaces

During the normalization process, The Ministry of Family, Labor, and Social Services and the Ministry of Health announced regulations regarding re-opening offices. While some regulations were mainly related to physical space, some correspond to users and employees. Thus, COVID-19 restrictions have been implemented to have a safe working environment in CSs. Reducing the overall capacity, raising awareness of users and employees, and regular disinfection of CSs were other necessary COVID-19 precautions. Table 1 and Fig. 3 show general precautions implemented by various CSs in Turkey.
Table 1
General COVID-19 precautions implemented by CSs in Turkey
(Source [3, 5, 10])
Physical space
Reducing capacity by half for meeting rooms and lounge areas
Using plexiglass as a separator for the large tables
Social distancing signs in the working place
Using a thermal camera and a heat meter to detect people with a high fever
Users and employees
Compulsory face mask usage for users and employees
Health status information at the entrance (vaccination, recovery, or a negative PCR test result performed within 48 h)
Limitation of guest entries
Sanitization
Disinfection of the whole space frequently
Creating disinfection stations for hand sanitization
Increase the cleaning frequency of surfaces and work areas
Modifying the physical space according to the new physical regulations was one of the regulations that CSs quickly adopted. Ministry of Health announced 14 basic rules which regulate social distance rules, hygiene suggestions, and mask usage in closed spaces. A personal code called HES activated each citizen to enter various closed spaces, from hospitals to shopping malls. The CSs quickly implemented these rules, and most of them announced their regulations on their websites to inform their potential and existing members. In addition, they have implemented their own precautions, as summarized in Table 1.

2.2 The Response of the Coworkers

The first rapid effect of remote working was seen in the membership numbers of CSs. According to CSs managers, the first reaction of the members was to cancel or change the membership type. In response to this, all interviewees stated that they suggested different solutions for their members instead of cancelling. These solutions include: not getting a membership fee from the sectors with payment difficulties, no increase in membership fees; discounts; and freezing the membership status. However, these solutions comprise the short-term effects of the pandemic. Overall, the number of members increased during the pandemic, and one of the factors that affected the number of members in the long term has been the migration of coworkers to abroad or to other small cities in Turkey, as mentioned by one of the managers of CSs.
The second most common reaction, other than the cancelation, was the transition to a different membership type. Most of the CSs managers stated that with the first wave of the pandemic, many coworkers who actively use the physical space asked to change their membership to the ‘virtual office’ option. This membership option has different facilities for different CSs. Basically, it is a membership option based on providing a legal company address, receiving cargo and telephone, networking opportunities, and usage of the meeting room and common area for a limited time. The coworkers mostly changed their membership to this option.
Despite the decrease in membership at the beginning of COVID-19, the pandemic has positively affected the growth of CSs. After the adaptation process, both the number of members and the number of locations of CSs increased. According to coworker.com data, the number of CSs has significantly increased. Interview results support this positive trend. A CS manager from Ankara states that many universities switched to distance education during the pandemic, which caused a rise in demand for students who needed to have quiet places to study. According to the Sales Manager of a CS, they opened three new locations in Istanbul during the pandemic. This Sales Manager describes the need as follows: ‘As a result of the spread of the vaccine and the ease of treatment, we gradually started to get more demand since the beginning of March 2022. Our occupancy rate has been 80% since the beginning of March.’ Moreover, he attributes this positive trend to the changes in the perception of working. He continues: ‘Companies got used to flexible working methods during the pandemic. However, sometimes working from home cannot be efficient. In this case, companies are looking for a solution to provide a working space for their employees in the closest location. In addition, customer confidentiality is an issue that companies pay great attention to. It is difficult to provide privacy in areas such as cafes. Solution partners like us, who ensure this confidentiality and provide a space where people can focus on their work, are gaining more importance.’ Similarly, a CS manager from Ankara expects a new rise in demand since working at home is tiring for many people, especially those who do not have a proper working setting. Moreover, the co-founder of another CS, supports this idea. He expresses that ‘Hybrid working model is now becoming permanent. Demands from corporate companies that we receive are always in this direction. They want to register their employees for a type of membership that they can come and use at certain times.’ According to this co-founder, another reason for the increasing demand for CSs in Istanbul is the war between Russia and Ukraine. He states that there are too many employees from both countries in Istanbul due to Turkey’s position as a mediator. He added that they are looking for Russian-speaking staff for their locations.

2.3 Changing Daily Routines and Events

One of the basic services that CSs provide is knowledge transfer, informal exchange, cooperation, and forms of horizontal interaction with others and business opportunities for its members [6]. It creates a collaborative community that generates from sharing the same environment with other individuals. It also affects fostering information exchange and creating new business connections caused by the geographical proximity of those places [11]. However, pandemic regulations limited the opportunities that the physical environment provides. Because the government has cancelled all face-to-face events. In response to this regulation, CSs quickly transformed all their events to virtual instead of cancelling them. Basically, there are two types of events organized in CSs: the first type of events is organized for members, while the second one is open to the public. Events to socialize and share knowledge and experience among members have been held online by some CSs. This shift has been observed more in community-oriented CSs. In this context, members gathered virtually to provide psychological support to each other to cope with the difficulties the pandemic brings. On the other hand, all public events were immediately transferred to virtual environments for all types of CSs. In contrast, it has been observed that CSs with many branches tend to organize only online public events instead of member-exclusive virtual meetings. It is also observed that the content of the virtual public events adjusted for the pandemic situation. Most CSs organized specific events for the pandemic or shifted their regular events. Online hackathons and ideathons were organized for this purpose. For example, a CS changed their ‘New Creators’ event to ‘Creators at Home’ event.
When the obligation to use masks in closed spaces and public transport was completely lifted in May 2022, face-to-face events were gradually encouraged by CSs managers. Although summer break has a negative effect on organizing events, interviewees state that the frequency of face-to-face events increased after May 2022. Nevertheless, CSs managers are still taking advantage of virtual events and organizing hybrid events. A co-founder of a CS from Izmir states that: ‘Although we mostly went back to face-to-face events, we keep organizing virtual events. Virtual events allowed us to host speakers and guests from out of the city. We still use the advantage of this situation in some cases when it is more meaningful to organize it virtually.

2.4 New Concepts and Future of the Coworking

Coping with the crisis and adapting to different conditions are significant features of the emergence of the coworking concept. While the concepts such as: ‘hybrid work’; ‘remote working’; ‘flexible working hours’; spread globally thanks to the pandemic, flexible solutions created by CSs have become essential [47]. Moreover, the downsizing of the companies, demand for companies to decentralize employees to the closest locations to their homes to avoid traffic and changing working habits have increased the importance and visibility of CSs in the crisis environment. A CS manager summarizes this process as follows: “Emergence of CSs roots for their adaptability to the crisis. The future of our sector was about advertising our spaces and expressing ourselves with more people. The pandemic did it for us spontaneously without any extra force. We had a chance to reach more people we could not imagine before the pandemic.
The pandemic resulted in the transformation of working styles and triggered the emergence of new concepts. In Turkey’s case, new coworking concepts emerged in the coastal cities of the country. Some CSs brands opened seasonal branches close to the beach (Figs. 4 and 5). The Co-Founder, and CEO of Kolektif House, who is also one of the founders of coworking in the beach, stated in an interview that: “As Kolektif House, we are challenging the limits of traditional ways of working with the mission of leading this transformation in business life. We take the working experience to the highest level with new generation solutions that support the hybrid working system. In this context, we have added a beach office to the central office, which is used in rotation in business life, and to the satellite office options close to the employees’ homes. We launched our first pop-up location at OM Paparazzi Beach, the first beach club established in Çeşme’s Aya Yorgi Bay. Enjoy the sun above you and the sand at your feet and meet the new generation of freelance work with Kolektif House services” [12].

3 Concluding Remarks

The use of CSs has dramatically increased with the rise of hybrid working during the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result of the dramatic shift in work modality, space considerations have also changed, leading to the rise of CSs. The rise of coworking has also been remarkable in Turkey. The country has experienced a boom in CSs during the COVID-19 pandemic due to the rise of hybrid working but also negative economic implications of COVID-19 reflected in a sharp depreciation of the Turkish currency, dramatic rise in inflation and following a sharp increase in transportation, housing, energy, and furnishings and household equipment [1]. Given these circumstances, CSs have become a cost-effective and innovative alternative providing a unique opportunity for their users. Turkey, especially its metropolitan cities leading by Istanbul, have experienced a dramatic rise in CSs.
The rise of coworking has not been limited to the increasing number of spaces in Turkey, but the demand for these spaces has been also changed and diversified with new services and even emerging new types of CSs such as ‘beach club’ or ‘surf house’. Recently, the war between Russia and Ukraine has also led to increasing demand for CSs by both countries’ employees escaping war. Therefore, CSs in Turkey have faced so many challenges, including changing demands and emerging new types of working spaces.
Open Access This chapter is licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (http://​creativecommons.​org/​licenses/​by/​4.​0/​), which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license and indicate if changes were made.
The images or other third party material in this chapter are included in the chapter's Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the chapter's Creative Commons license and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder.
Literatur
1.
Zurück zum Zitat Baycan T, Tuysuz S (2022) Special feature on social, economic, and spatial impacts of COVID-19 pandemic in Turkey. Asia-Pac J Reg Sci 6(3):1041–1051CrossRef Baycan T, Tuysuz S (2022) Special feature on social, economic, and spatial impacts of COVID-19 pandemic in Turkey. Asia-Pac J Reg Sci 6(3):1041–1051CrossRef
6.
Zurück zum Zitat Mariotti I, Pacchi C, Di Vita S (2017) Co-working spaces in Milan: location patterns and urban effects. J Urban Technol 24(3):47–66CrossRef Mariotti I, Pacchi C, Di Vita S (2017) Co-working spaces in Milan: location patterns and urban effects. J Urban Technol 24(3):47–66CrossRef
7.
Zurück zum Zitat OECD (2021) Teleworking in the COVID-19 pandemic: trends and prospects. OECD, Paris, France OECD (2021) Teleworking in the COVID-19 pandemic: trends and prospects. OECD, Paris, France
8.
Zurück zum Zitat Parlak M (2021) New forms of the creative economy: creative hubs in Istanbul (unpublished doctoral dissertation). Istanbul Technical University, Istanbul Parlak M (2021) New forms of the creative economy: creative hubs in Istanbul (unpublished doctoral dissertation). Istanbul Technical University, Istanbul
9.
Zurück zum Zitat Parlak M, Baycan T (2020) The rise of creative hubs in Istanbul. Eur Spat Res Policy 27(1):127–147CrossRef Parlak M, Baycan T (2020) The rise of creative hubs in Istanbul. Eur Spat Res Policy 27(1):127–147CrossRef
11.
Zurück zum Zitat Spinuzzi C (2012) Working alone together: coworking as emergent collaborative activity. J Bus Tech Commun 26(4):399–441CrossRef Spinuzzi C (2012) Working alone together: coworking as emergent collaborative activity. J Bus Tech Commun 26(4):399–441CrossRef
Metadaten
Titel
The Booming Growth of Coworking Spaces During the COVID-19 Pandemic in Turkey
verfasst von
Tüzin Baycan
Meltem Parlak Mavitan
Gülfiye Özcan Alp
Copyright-Jahr
2023
DOI
https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-031-26018-6_10